Cups / FreeBSD / Windows Domain

So as you may know, I’m working on secret PHP project using the Zend Framework. It’s coming along well and I have been taking some notes on the server which is on the local network. I was about to download my notes and print them when I decided that printing directly from the FreeBSD server to the printer in our office should not be a difficult feat.

Of course… it wasn’t difficult, but it was a bit tricky. Here are some things I just learned, in no particular order:

* When installing the port called ghostscript8-no_x11 , you are asked to configure it and set up some options via the usual curses menu interface. One of these options says “include X11 support”. Doesn’t it seem strange that the port is named with the no_x11 suffix, yet including X support is an option? I thought so. I don’t have X on this server and never will. I don’t want X there. I unchecked the option, and then the build failed. Oddly enough you need to leave this option enabled or you will run into bizarre build errors like “ert file not found”.  Don’t worry though, leaving this option checked does not build X! (I don’t think it makes sense but with the port as it is today, this is the case)

* If you didn’t think about installing CUPS early enough to set up the special options in make.conf to tell FreeBSD’s ports system to overwrite the default LPR printing base, you’ll have to move or otherwise disable /usr/bin/lp and /usr/bin/lpr and then either link /usr/local/bin/lpr and lp to /usr/bin or just edit your PATH.  I found that tidbit here: http://home.nyc.rr.com/computertaijutsu/cups.html

* The DELL 5110 printer we use has been added to our windows domain. The drivers for PCL and PS were added to the print server so that when the printer is being added there are choices. If you have the PS driver installed, just use that, trust me. You can add the printer in cups’ web interface and tell it to send the job raw. It’s much easier, in my opinion, than messing with drivers and ppd files. Using the PS driver and the raw queue I was able to print a test page the first try, which is saying something, believe me.

* I wasn’t able to print text files properly via the lpr command. I got strange stair-stepping on my printouts and they were totally unusable. Using the a2ps command to format and send the output directly to the printer worked amazingly. I never saw a printed text file look so good. a2ps is available in the ports tree and it works great even when you’re printing from a FreeBSD server via Cups and the samba/smb backend to some printer on a windows domain.

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