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One way to print to Serial and AppleTalk printers Printers
Some of us, including me, still use old but cheap and reliable LaserWriters (I have the LaserWriter 4/600). Others use serial or USB printers. Not all work hassle free under OS X. But there's a simple solution. You need:
  1. An old Mac with a working (serial) printer (StyleWriters, LaserWriter, USB-printer -- no QuickDraw printers).
  2. A network connection (wired or wireless) from your new Mac to your old Mac, which will soon become a print server.
  3. The free software Print66, which is a print server / spooler.
Here's a bit more detail on the problem and solution...from time to time (i.e. from system version to system version), there may be problems (or not) printing via AppleTalk. Leopard 10.5.2 and/or AirPort, for example, do not find any LocalTalk printers at the moment (perhaps Apple will address this issue, but nobody knows). Furthermore, you must now use OS 9 on the elder machine, which allows "File Sharing via TCP/IP." But there's a simple and free solution (which was time consuming and difficulat to find): Print66, a free print server for the classic Mac OS. As far as I see, it addresses all printing issues and will work forever reliably (as long as your new Mac's got a suitable printer description file and your old Mac does, too).

Print66 is a print server and spooler, running on the old Mac (68K and PowerPC), waiting for data from the network. If you can reach the old Mac from the network, you can send data -- printing data as well. The ReadMe describes the set up process very well and in detail. In short: Edit the setup file Print66 reads at startup. Here you define the printer and the host's IP address and you're done. Avoid special characters. Mine reads, for example:
PRINTER    psnormal PAP "LaserWriter Normal" POSTSCRIPT
I tried LaserWriter 4/600 (Normal) for the printer name, but that did not work -- I got a 'printer not found' error, so I had to rename it with Apple Printer Utility. The two HOST lines are the IP addresses from my Time Capsule and my MacBook Pro; I wasn't quite sure which one was needed so I used both.

On the Mac OS X side, you add a new printer (System Preferences » Print & Fax » click the Plus sign » IP printer » LPD » choose a printer description file). Address is your old Mac's IP address, queue is psnormal in my case (or whatever you wrote behind PRINTER and before PAP in the Print66 setup file).

That's it. You should now be able to print to an old LaserWriter or StyleWriter. You should probably define and use fixed IP addresses (which normally are dynamically assigned via AirPort Base Station/Time Capsule), to make sure the host and the print server find each other after a restart.
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One way to print to Serial and AppelTalk printers
Authored by: barryjaylevine on May 16, '08 08:57:21AM

The "problem" is not AppleTalk; this is still fully supported; rather, the problem is more likely Postscript Level 1 which is no longer supported in OSX (and hasn't been since, IIRC, Jaguar) although there are workarounds including, but not limited to, the above hint.

I had to discard my old LW4/600 some years ago due to this issue (although it's still running at a site where they're using OS9 Macs).

Two things in this world aren't overrated: Macintosh and Lemon Meringue Pie.

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One way to print to Serial and AppelTalk printers
Authored by: balthisar on May 16, '08 12:54:53PM

You can setup ghostscript to print to PostScript 1 printers. Look for the hint here, or hints submitted by yours truly. You'll have to update some of the logic for current Mac OS, but the Unix underpinnings are still sound.

--Jim (me)

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One way to print to Serial and AppelTalk printers
Authored by: Chas on May 17, '08 06:37:24AM

That is not true at all. PostScript Level 1 is still fully supported. I have an ancient HP LaserJet 5MP that predates Level 2, it works perfectly well, and in fact, has official driver support in MacOS X.

This tip is truly horrible, a convoluted and overly complex solution. Serial printers can be set up using standard Unix methods like LPR, you just need a serial port, which is not standard on most modern Macs, but is easily done with a USB>Serial adapter.
My HP 5MP ran for at least a decade on an EtherJet Ethernet-to-Parallel adapter, it plugged into the parallel port and then the printer appeared on my LAN as an Appletalk device, or I could have selected other protocols like LPR. But one day the EtherJet died. I unplugged it and considered the situation. I wondered if I could use an old USB Parallel cable on that port, I tried it, and lo and behold, it worked instantly.

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One way to print to Serial and AppelTalk printers
Authored by: stokessd on May 17, '08 08:08:40AM

Not only is postscript supported, but the Laserwriter 4/600 IS postscript level 2.


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One way to print to Serial and AppelTalk printers
Authored by: Chas on May 17, '08 01:10:39PM

Right. I wish I had people around me throwing away perfectly good PostScript laser printers.

BTW, I checked on the web and found USB>Serial adapters starting at $9.95. I don't know about serial cables, but I'm pretty handy with a soldering iron so I figure I could make one for $5. Even if you had to buy one or have one custom-made, it shouldn't cost over $30.

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One way to print to Serial and AppelTalk printers
Authored by: thomaschek on May 16, '08 10:41:49AM
It's me, having posted this hint, and I forgot one thing which might be essential: If you're using a LocalTalk Printer (like some LaserWriters) and you're networked via Ethernet you have to use Apple's free control panel LocalTalk Bridge ("connecting" LocalTalk and Ethernet), otherwise the printer won't be found:

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One way to print to Serial and AppelTalk printers
Authored by: robackja on May 16, '08 01:56:29PM

It seems like the cost in electricity to run old laser + computer > buying a $120 brother,lexmark,HP laser printer after a few months...

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One way to print to Serial and AppelTalk printers
Authored by: ejensen on May 16, '08 05:54:56PM

Seems like a hard way to do this. I have been running an Ethernet<-->LocalTalk converter for years, and am still printing to a Laserwriter 4/600 (at home) and 320 (at work) this way, all connected via my router. Apple provides drivers in Leopard so they are supported still (just need to turn on Appletalk for the ethernet connection). Years ago several companies sold such converters (Dayna, Asante,...) and they still turn up on eBay. Unless you have a reason to want an OS 9 Mac running all the time, this seems a much better solution, though it is getting harder to find new toner cartridges.

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resolves an issue with Time Capsule
Authored by: thomaschek on May 17, '08 12:30:32AM

You're absolutely right so far.

But there were reasons for me to use a LaserWriter, a PowerBook Wallstreet (and now Print66): LaserWriters are good quality, reliable and cheap (mine was 25 bucks, including p+p and a spare toner cartridge). I tried AsanteTalk bridges and found them to be unreliable. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. There are "books" about the right way to power up the computer and the box in order to get them running. Furthermore, PowerBooks such old are extremely cheap nowadays (25 bucks for mine), almost cheaper than a box, and much more powerful and reliable (ymmv).

Second, with Time Capsule, my wireless AppleTalk connection broke - which worked just fine before with an old Vigor 2500we (otherwise there was no change in the setup, so I suppose Apple's hardware or firmware for AirPort does not support AppleTalk at the moment). Cabled Ethernet worked just fine, but I wanted to print wirelessly from a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air - which was not possible any more with Time Capsule.

So I figured out this solution and as far as I see: Whatever Apple decides, whether they will repair the broken wireless AppleTalk connection or not, or whatever protocols they will support (or not) in the future - as long as I have printer drivers on both sides and get the two machines connected via a network (wired or wireless), this solution will work.

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One way to print to Serial and AppelTalk printers
Authored by: fmarder on May 18, '08 09:16:15AM

As much as I love to keep old stuff running, the amount of money it takes to run an old Laser Printer could easily buy you a new networkable one that does away with AppleTalk as well.
With energy costs rising, I am starting to nix solutions like this.

Franklin Marder
Apple Solution Experts
Apple Product Professional

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