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Print to many unsupported network printers System
If you have an unsupported, networked, non-PostScript printer, the instructions and files in this package MAY give you the ability to use it under OS X 10.1. The package walks you through some background on the Mac OS X printing system, the Darwin printing system, and installing GhostScript to get your non-PostScript printers working on your network. With a little bit of your own investigating, this package will potentially allow you to support your SERIAL printers, and possibly unsupported USB printers!

The hints and tips here will have potential applicability to any myriad of printing problems under OS X 10.1.
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Print to many unsupported network printers | 34 comments | Create New Account
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Authored by: mithras on Oct 26, '01 07:58:39PM

This is the best hint I've ever seen.

With my networked Epson 740, I've succeeded in printing a Windows-generated printer control file. Yay! Now I just need to figure out how to get Ghostscript to produce Epson-language files...

I wasn't sure I'd ever get printing to work.

Stay tuned for the update on networked Epsons.

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Hope this helps my HP LaserJet 5si
Authored by: Anonymous on Oct 27, '01 02:01:41AM

I just knew there had to be some information out there like this. Glad to see it posted.
I've got a networked HPLaserJet5si.. doesn't have postscript. I'm hoping this will help get me going.

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HP PostScript SIMM is another option
Authored by: Jaharmi on Mar 02, '02 06:50:54AM

Another alternative might be to get the PostScript SIMM for the HP LJ 5Si. The printer is capable of PostScript with that option.

It may be a few hundred bucks, but it gives you true PS support in the printer; if you already have it networked, then you're good to go.

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epson hack is back
Authored by: brodie on Oct 27, '01 07:54:48AM

the epson hack is back, i may be wayout with this, as i hacked before i tried- but i just downloaded the stylus 1280 driver release, hacked all the files within the package, changing 1280 to 1290, restarted and there it was, my1290 in the printer centre.
if anyone has the 1290 showing without need for a hack then i guess im wrong, and overzealous, but, if you cant see it in your print centre, then hack it to something similar.
a word of warning though, the 1280 is the same as the 1290 so i feared nothing, whereas others might want to wait. all the print profiles will be different, so although you may get your printer working, colorsync etc might be way out.

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Epson 1290 OS X drivers available from UK
Authored by: Zingano on Oct 31, '01 03:23:02AM

Go to EPSON's UK download library -

There you can find drivers for the 1290 with no hacking needed. Worked for me.

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Epson 1290 OS X drivers available from UK
Authored by: osxe on Nov 01, '01 06:23:15AM

thank you Zingano. I dl-ed the 1280 driver via VersionTracker and read that someone had changed all 1280 instances to 1290 (plug-in and package contents) - I tried this but would always have Print Center crash on me. Now I have the official 1290 drivers! I'll test them out when I get home.

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epson hack is back
Authored by: eddyer on Nov 28, '01 03:10:38PM

I have an Epson 850Ne and would like to employ the hack listed here: , but I can't even see the Epson drivers for the 900N (closest match I'd guess) in the Epson folder (library/printers/Epson/). I installed the additional printer drivers from the 10.1 update CD, but nothing changed even after a restart. I also can't find anything on the web to download (additional drivers, whatnot). Any ideas?

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What Options?
Authored by: brodie on Oct 29, '01 04:58:54AM

i dont know about ghostscript, i've seen a lot of people recommending it, i hacked the driver (see above) but i've yet to figure out if i can specify resolution and colorsync, i dont seem to have that control although i saw relative files when hacking.

Does Ghostscript, which appears to need Devtools, give you the options of paper types, dpi, colorsync/photo-enhance, layout, margins etc?
if it does then this would be one step over the epson drivers and worth installing.

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What Options?
Authored by: balthisar on Oct 29, '01 01:17:47PM

The printing tutorial I've posted gets "basic" printing to work, but, I think with a little bit of Google research and man page reading, you'll be able to figure out quite a few options. I don't know how well you'll be able to integrate them with the Mac OS, though. I imagine you could define several "virtual printers" with different print filters using the GhostScript options you want. If you're particularly good at scripting, I imagine you could write a "magic filter" that encompasses all of your options.

Now, GhostScript knows nothing about ColorSynch or other high-level, Mac OS color-matching technologies. However my hack generates PostScript code *from* the high-level OS, so the PostScript that is generated *should* reflect the color-matching done in the Mac OS. However, it's up to GhostScript to interpret this. I've found a lot of references to setting "gamma levels" in GhostScript. Once you find the correct gamma level, then what you see in the Mac OS should be what GhostScript generates. I can't guarantee that, and it's above my needs and abilities to determine if it actually works that way, but it makes perfect sense.

As per GhostScript's other abilities, try "man gs" in Google and you'll quickly get the GhostScript man page that describes all of GhostScript's parameters, including options, dpi, layout, and margins.

Finally, the DevTools are only needed to compile GhostScript under fink. There *are* other OS X pre-compiled GhostScript distributions available. Also, I now know that fink has a dselect utility that lets you manage pre-compiled binaries. I will change my instruction set to reflect this when I get a chance. This will obviate the need for the DevTools.

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External hard drive
Authored by: troykoelling on Nov 01, '01 10:42:01PM

I really really really want to be able to do this with my USB hard drive. When I started up X for the first time my 30 gig hard drive wasn't on the desk top and after a lot of searching, someone told me that Apple only supports firewire. The official website says it supports both but since my hard disk is not working I have to assume the former. Can anyone please please help me? either to figure out how to hack or if you have a USB drive tell me how you made it work


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Using this hack with DJ 870 over at
Authored by: bullcreek on Nov 26, '01 02:42:35PM

I'm trying to get this to work with a DeskJet 870cxi via appletalk (I don't have the print server -- under OS9, I simply selected the printer over appletalk using the Chooser).

I've gotten as far as setting up the printer definitions. For the "lp" printer, an entry for "rm" is required. In the example, it's an IP address. I'm assuming to get to my appletalk printer, I'm going to have to enter something with an appletalk address, but I'm unsure of the form. Should it be something like <at://deskjet870C:DeskWriter>? The experiment given at the top of the document did work, BTW -- I was able to get the printer to print the sample pcl file using the commands supplied.

Anyone else gotten this config to work?

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Using this hack with DJ 870 over at
Authored by: balthisar on Nov 26, '01 06:04:47PM

Hi Bullcreek!

Try something akin to this:

Look at the lpd.filter file, the last line:
exec $GS -dNOPAUSE -q -dBATCH -sDEVICE=cdj550 -r600 -sOutputFile=\|/usr/local/lib/lpd/lpr_spooler -

If you make the -sOutputFile paramater look like this:


You should be able to get this to work. Don't forget the hyphen at the end of the line; that still needs to stay there (it's not part of the -sOutputFile parameter).

You'll need to find the path to atprint and put it in the file. I'm at a Windows box, so I can't find the path for you right now, but Sherlock ought to be able to tell you. Once you get this working, you can safely delete the printer lp from the print center and netinfo, since you won't be printing to lp (you'll use atprint directly).

Since you said the "trick" using atprint worked for you, good, that means you know the AppleTalk address. You *MAY* need to use the -sOutputFile parameter a little differently than I just said:
-sOutputFile=\|"/path-to-atprint/atprint deskwriter970:DeskWriter"
...where I used my own appletalk address and you should use yours. Note that I put in quotes for this line, 'cos I think they're needed due to the space in the parameter. Try the experiment with and without quotes (sorry I can't do this myself right now; I'm nowhere near my Macs!).

If you can't get it to work like this, revert back the original lpd.filter file, and change the the lpr_spooler file to chnage this:
/usr/bin/lpr -v -h -Plp
to this:
/path-to-atprint/atprint deskwriter970:DeskWriter

Please let us know if this works!

IMPORTANT NOTE: okay, I can't seem to make a backslash here, so be aware that in EVERY instance of the -sOutputFile= above, there should be a backslash right before the pipe character, to wit:

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Using this hack with DJ 870 over at
Authored by: bullcreek on Nov 27, '01 05:04:44PM
Yay! I finally got this to work! Thanks very much for your help. As it turns out, the second suggestion you offered, with the appletalk address appended and with quotes, worked. One problem with the config you had and the DJ870cxi. When specified for 600dpi output, things printed about twice normal size. When I changed the output resolution to 300dpi, things looked normal. Suggestion to all: Be sure to check the page setup before attempting to print. Unless the correct printer is selected and the output options are correct, you can get weird results. First thing I printed came out at like 14,000 x enlargement. I'm also getting some kind of weird blue background when printing from Entourage, but this doesn't seem to happen with anything else. Here's what my lpd.filter file looks like:

exec $GS -dNOPAUSE -q -dBATCH -sDEVICE=cdj550 -r300 -sOutputFile=|"/usr/bin/atprint deskjet870C:DeskWriter" -
Thanks again!

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HP Appletalk printers and CUPS
Authored by: anthonyseven on Nov 12, '02 05:38:26PM

I posted a procedure at

to fix a problem where HP Appletalk printers tend to hang. My post was in response to another post about how to get an unsupported Appletalk-capable HP DeskJet to work with CUPS & Mac OSX. Hope this helps.

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No luck w/ OfficeJet G85xi
Authored by: scottburton on Nov 29, '01 08:43:38PM

I could get the Sample.PCL file to print but I've had no luck with Print Center & the full GS hack with this HP OfficeJet G85xi. I've tried both IP and appletalk atprint methods without success (incidentally appletalk lists this printer with the space in the name; I've had success printing the PCL file with atprint by surrounding the full name with single quotes, as in 'OfficeJet G85xi:DeskWriter').

In any case, Print Center gives me an error after every attempt, and the error is listed in the print queue for "OfficeJet G85xi", the dummy NetInfo printer. I find this an unusual place for an unexplained error, given that (as I understand it) this NetInfo printer is supposed to pass along commands to lpd.filter, and not communicate directly with any physical printer or respond to errors.

I've checked all my syntax and everything's cool. Is there anything obvious I could be doing wrong?

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No luck w/ OfficeJet G85xi
Authored by: bullcreek on Nov 30, '01 12:19:36PM

How about going into Classic, picking the Chooser, hitting Options, and renaming the printer to something that doesn't have spaces? Then substitute the new name in the filters file and in NetInfo. Just a thought.

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No luck w/ OfficeJet G85xi
Authored by: balthisar on Nov 30, '01 03:57:34PM

I'm pretty sure that renaming the printer with the Chooser only changes the name of the printer for the computer, that is, the name you see in the chooser. The "real" name of the printer is in the printer or print server.

Is this printer attached to a print server? If so, use HP JetAdmin to rename the printer. Actually, it'll probably work if the printer is already network-supported. If not JetAdmin, try the normal HP tools (the name escapes me -- maybe DeskJet Tool or something?). These are Classic apps.

Also, did you do replace the LPRIOM file? That's why the Print Center usually faults out.

Are you working with the 29-Nov-2001 copy of the instructions? If not, try to download the package again -- I just posted it a few hours ago, and it may help.

Alternatively, if you CAN'T remove the spaces in the printer name for some reason, change the lpr.filter file like this:

#exec $GS -dNOPAUSE -q -dBATCH -sDEVICE=cdj550 –r600 -sOutputFile={backslash}|/path-to-file/otherscript

Don't forget that there's a backslash before the pipe in the -sOutputFile parameter that I can't write here for some reason.

Then, in the "otherscript" file, make it this:

/usr/bin/lpr -v -h -Plp <---- using TCP/IP
/usr/bin/atprint "deskjet970:DeskWriter" <---- using AppleTalk (use your printer name)

Then, quotes can be put around your printer name this way.

Hope this helps!

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No luck w/ OfficeJet G85xi
Authored by: Jaharmi on Jan 02, '02 04:58:03PM

You shouldn't be able to rename the printer in the Chooser. To do that, you'll need the specific utility for the printer, or perhaps a more generic one like the Apple LaserWriter Utility or the HP JetAdmin program.

And if you change *that* name with either of those utilities, that changes the name broadcast on your AppleTalk network, most definitely. Because that's what those utilities change.

It's much like changing the name broadcast by your computer when you turn on File Sharing -- you change that in the File Sharing control panel (OS 9) or the Sharing control panel (OS X).

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Balthisar, almost there....
Authored by: on Nov 30, '01 03:48:36PM

Great tip and instructions. I am using 10.1.1 and trying to print to a HP DJ 1120c with LPR. the instructions went just as you stated. (other than the fact that fink was not in the package ut I just went and got it from the website.) I went through all the steps and things work until it gets to the very end.

I can print and see the job spool through the Print Center but then nothing happens and I get

localhost lpd[690]: cannot execv /usr/local/lib/lpd/lpd.filter

in the console. I have double checked syntax, locations, and permissions and all seems right per instructions.

Any help is appreciated.

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Balthisar, almost there....
Authored by: balthisar on Nov 30, '01 08:53:57PM

Sometimes, I've been told by some users, that you have to change the ownership of the lpd.filter file. I didn't specify to set ownership of these files in the instructions, because I didn't have to. Apparently, this isn't working for you.

Try changing the permissions of the /usr/local/lib/lpd/lpd.filter file so that it's daemon.daemon. If that doesn't work, also try root.daemon, or shortname.shortname for the name of the account your trying to print from. It sounds like a permissions issue. You could also use chmod on the file to make the lpd.filter file executable by anyone.

Get back if this none of this works for you.

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Balthisar, almost there....
Authored by: druecker on Nov 30, '01 11:11:58PM

I also had trouble with network printing, but I eventually found the problem. Below is my reply to Jim Derry, author of the original document



After taking a few days off, I finally solved my printing problem. I want to let you know what I did so that you can help others.

1. I changed the ownership as you indicated below. I also used the Netinfo manager to verify that I and the other user are members of the wheel group. I am not sure if this mattered or not, because printing didn't work until step 2.
2. I discovered that the files (lpd.filter and lpr_spooler) that I downloaded from your website contained a spurious character at the end of each line. I know that Unix, PCs, and Macs use various combinations of return and line feed to denote the end of line. I think that is the origin of the problem. In any case, when viewing the contents of the files using "more", I didn't see the extra unprinted character (^M). I only discovered it when I used the vi editor to add some debugging code to look for the problem. Once I deleted the ^M character, my troubles were nearly over.
3. After step 2, the printer began to print. Unfortunately, it didn't print anything recognizable. By trial and error, I discovered that the printer resolution option -r600 didn't work with my printer, a DeskJet 895cxi. I simply deleted it. I don't know what the default is, but at least it works. I will do some more experimentation with this parameter.

The only remaining issue is relatively minor. When the print job finishes, the printer "error button" lights up. This button usually lights up when there is a paper jam or empty ink cartridge. I this case, the symptoms lead me to believe that the printer is still waiting for more data. I conclude this from the following observation. When the printer begins to receive data from the computer, the power light begins to blink. When the print job is finished, the light normally burns continuously. However, with your network printing solution, the light continues blinking for about a minute until the error light comes on. I think it times out while expecting more data. Have you heard any similar reports?

Thanks a lot for your help.


On Monday, November 5, 2001, at 09:58 AM, Jim Derry wrote:

Try setting the permissions to the files in the lpd directory so that the owner is still daemon, but the group is wheel. Here're the permissions on my system:

drwxr-xr-x 6 daemon wheel 160 Oct 13 17:21 .
drwxr-xr-x 4 root wheel 92 Oct 6 21:15 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 daemon wheel 6148 Oct 6 21:15 .DS_Store
-rw-r--r-- 1 daemon wheel 1704 Oct 6 21:15 GS_HP_LaserJet.ppd
-rwxr-xr-x 1 daemon wheel 218 Oct 13 01:38 lpd.filter
-rwxr-xr-x 1 daemon wheel 35 Oct 13 01:30 lpr_spooler

As root, you can change permissions with "chown -R daemon.wheel lpr_spooler" for example. The -R is really not needed unless you're changing directories' permissions.

I think it should work with the permissions you have, i.e., the daemon group and owner. But give this a try, and just hope that all your users are part of the wheel group.

--Jim Derry

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Balthisar, almost there....
Authored by: on Dec 03, '01 05:17:38PM

Thanks Rick and Jim. the permissions etc were not the problem. I went on the errant character hunt and fixed it by opening the file in bbedit and saving with unix line breaks. They showed up as DOS line breaks in BBedit. The HP DJ 1120c is now working. In the mean time I got it working on my HP DJ 850c over Airport and Localtalk bridge. Now that is what I call compatibility with old stuff. Thanks again. Now what I need to learn is how to share the queue first as a LPR printer and then over appletalk. has anyone ported the print server in ashare over to Mac OS X.

Note on the DJ 850c photos look better imaged using djcolor engine and drawings look better with the setting you chose.


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Why use AppleTalk, and not LPR?
Authored by: Jaharmi on Mar 02, '02 06:45:11AM

Why use AppleTalk?

If you've followed these instructions, you should have an LPR queue set up. Mac OS 7.5 can do LPR printing, if you install the right LaserWriter driver in classic OS. The right version (or latest version you can run) depends on what version of Mac OS you're running; the Apple Downloads pages for each LW version will tell you which OS they run on. You should be able to use LW 8.6 or 8.6.1, at least. (If you already have Mac OS 9, no upgrades are needed; it's all included.)

I've got basic directions for setting up LPR printing in Mac OS 7.x-9.x below, once you've got LaserWriter 8.5.1 (or later) installed.


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Why use AppleTalk, and not LPR?
Authored by: on Mar 27, '02 03:51:59PM

Tell me how to do it with no purchases and I am game. Here is the setup:
HP DeskJet 850c connected by Phonenet to the Printer Port of a Power Mac 5200 and shared using the Localtalk Bridge control panel onto ethernet. I am printing from my powerbook running OS X over an Airport connection. It works fine. There were some funky commercial products a decade ago for doing IP over Localtalk but they are long gone. I was just interested in preserving my investment in hardware that is working perfectly well (and is more durable than 90% of consumer printers now.)
This is a home network. I was just fascinated to get back into guts computing and rigging things to work when they are "unsupported". In my opinion that is the realm of most geeks with shallow pockets. Other companies (I won't mention any names.) Want to lock you into paying every time Bill coughs.......uh oops.... I just appreciate having tools to rig when necessary.

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Networked postscript printers
Authored by: Anonymous on Dec 03, '01 08:45:06AM

If you have a networked postscript printer then you only need the "old" LPRIOM.plugin that you can find in Baltishar's package.

Then you define your printer in NetInfo, make it visible in PrintCenter, e voila! Printing!.

Thanks btw.


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Networked postscript printers
Authored by: Jaharmi on Jan 02, '02 04:54:04PM

I don't understand. If you have a networked PostScript printer that supports AppleTalk or LPR, you should be able to get that to work via the Print Center normally. No need to fiddle with GhostScript and/or NetInfo. So I don't understand what you're meaning by this message -- and this is not a flame, just confusion.

Just like in Mac OS 7-9, where the LaserWriter 8 driver was the generic networked PostScript printer driver, Mac OS X supports networked PostScript printers out of the box.

The only problems I've had with Mac OS X with this respect have been with PPD files -- I've had to move them over from Mac OS 9, or wait for them to come with an update for OS X (before I figured out where they were stored in OS X).

Now, non-PostScript, networked or local printers -- that's a different story!

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Networked postscript printers
Authored by: balthisar on Jan 02, '02 10:40:27PM

You're right -- to get an AppleTalk or LPR PostScript printer to work was no problem, UNLESS there was a REASON to use a NetInfo printer (such as the desire to use filters for cover pages or other types of accounting). However, the LPRIOM.plugin file BREAKS the use of filters, so it's necessary to use the old one. Even the 10.1.2 LPRIOM.filter is broken.

And, of course, for inkjets, it's survival. :-)

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Unsupported Page Sizes
Authored by: rzdroj on Jan 24, '02 08:11:12PM

I've recently upgraded my copy of VectorWorks to 9.5 in order to be able to use it on OS X but found no way to print to my HP250C plotter without changing over to OS 9. The MacPlot Ultra Graphic Pack that I had been using doesn't have a version that works with OS X native.

I saw the Balthisar hint and implemented it but there was still a problem in printing to large page sizes. I usually use arch D (24" x 36"). I used the dnj650c driver included with the GhostScript package on the Balthisar site. Incidentally, the Balthisar guide was one of the most well written HOWTO's that I've ever used.

The problem was solved with not much elegance by modifying the file "/System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/PrintCore.framework/Versions/A/Resources/PaperInfo.xml" using PropertyListEditor while logged on as root. The PaperInfo.xml file was mentioned by gerryclarke on a different forum and for a different purpose but it sounded like the file where paper size might be set as well.

This file seems to control the page sizes listed under File->PageSetup... formatted for Any Printer. I changed the Name, PaperRect and PageRect properties to arch-D, 1296->2592 and 864->1728. PaperRect and PageRect had 1296 and 864 as the height and width of the page in points so two numbers were changed in each of those two sections. Dividing those numbers by 72 gives the value of the page height and width in inches. This was the 7th item in the list which gave the dimensions for the "tabloid page" which were 18" x 12 ".

There is probably a simple way to duplicate a set of page attributes and then modify the duplicate but I was so deep in the file hierarchy, working as root in the system folder, without solid experience that I wanted to get out as soon as possible. So far, it looks like it works and the colors seem close enough for drafting use. It will probably need to be redone with each OS X upgrade but I hope that Apple adds the ability to set custom page sizes soon.

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Authored by: macuser1 on Mar 13, '02 10:09:42AM

I never thought I will be able to use my old HP laserjet4L printer
on my home network with Mac. This is an excellet step by step
instruction to make it work!. Thanks so much. I had my printer
printing in a matter of 30mins with this great information.

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combining hints
Authored by: on May 03, '02 03:12:46PM
Could any of you savvy unix people combine this hint with this hint and provide a way of sharing a nonpostscript printer over lpr by using Ghostscript. this would be great in an education setting where we will have several pre OSX macs around for quite a while yet. The Laserwriter driver with the Desktop printer utility would allow a desktop printer to print to such a printer you would just have to tweak a PPD so it would have the right options in it. Any takers?

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combining hints
Authored by: balthisar on Jul 01, '02 10:31:50AM

Okay... check the website around Friday or so:

The old PDF distribution is just about obsolete.

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Works for Epson SC3000; now how about HP DesignJet 488ca?
Authored by: kadeli on May 21, '02 10:34:15PM

This is absolutely the best tip. I now have native printing to my networked Epson StylusColor 3000, using the gimp-print ("stp") driver and a .ppd file generated from the site (slightly modified to add US-C paper size and to fix page margins). All the printer options (i.e., gamma, ink density, resolution, etc.) show up in the print dialog box and function perfectly. I also discovered that with stp you don't need to specify resolution or print quality in the gs command line, as long as you use the .ppd file generator. The "execution details" option on the site was very helpful in knowing how to configure the $GS line in the lpd.filter file. My original mistake was using the Epson StylusRip .ppd file.

I noticed the tip about hacking something to get new media sizes to appear under "any printer", but with my approach I just select "StylusColor3000" from my list of Print Center printers in the Page Setup dialog box and I am presented with all the page size options in the .ppd file. I decided to replace a page size (A2 invitation) that I thought I would never need with the US-C information, just to be safe.

Now to the issue of the DJ488ca - any one try this? I am not sure how to go about setting up the .ppd, since doesn't list this printer at all, and the dj650c driver instructions are sparse.

I also would like to know if I can set all of this up to use a dedicated print server, although on my 800 Mhz G4 I am hard pressed to see any slowdowns during printing.

Thanks again for the great tip, balthisar. - Ken

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remote printer names
Authored by: cjmilne on Jun 22, '02 03:04:47AM

some quick comments for y'all. first this is an awesome little hack and epitomizes why i bought mac os x ibook in the first place. onto some useful info, for those of you who've got named printers out there the Netinfo Property required is 'rp' (remote printer). just enter the name of the print spool on the print server as that Value & you should be able to access it quite nicely. you can check with an 'lpq -Pspoolname' to see if you're accessing the printer server properly.

best of luck,


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restarting lpd
Authored by: cjmilne on Jun 24, '02 08:20:58PM

so i ran into balthisar's lpd bug & fiddled around for a while. i'm reasonably sure that simply killing & restarting lpd then doing an 'lpc restart all' brings things back to life. the only odd part (for me anyways) is that lpd is running from /usr/libexec/lpd which is kind of an odd place for a daemon to run from. no matter, all i did was to 'ps ax|grep lpd' then killed the process number (actually tried a HUP but it didn't come back to life), then restarted it '/usr/libexec/lpd' and then 'lpc restart all' and wham, my print job came out of the printer.

all the 'lpc status printer' stuff returns normal results & there don't appear to be any further problems. if this is persistent i'll probably hack together a script to automate this so i don't have to manually do this every time the ibook wakes up.


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