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Printserving in FreeBSD

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Printserving in FreeBSD is a complicated topic. There are many different software interfaces to printers, as well as a wide variety of printer hardware interfaces. This chapter covers the basics of setting up a print queue, using Samba to print, and administering print queues and connections.

PC Printing History

In the early days of the personal computer, printing was simple. The PC owner bought a cheap printer, usually a dot matrix that barely supported ASCII, and plugged it into the computer with a parallel cable. Applications would either work with the printer or not, and most of them did because all they could do was output DOS or ASCII text. The few software applications that supported graphics generally could output only on specific makes and models of printers. Shared network printing, if it existed, was usually done by some type of serial port switchbox.

This was the general state of affairs with the PC until the Windows operating system was released. All at once, application programmers were finally free of the restrictions of worrying about how some printer manufacturer would change printer control codes. Graphics printing, in the form of fonts and images, was added to most applications, and demand for it rapidly increased across the corporation. Large, high-capacity laser printers designed for office printing appeared on the scene. Printing went from 150 to 300 to 600dpi for the common desktop laser printer.

Today organizational network printing is complex, and printers themselves are more complicated. Most organizations find that sharing a few high-quality laser printers is much more cost effective than buying many cheaper dot-matrix units. Good network printserving is a necessity, and it can be very well provided by the FreeBSD UNIX system.


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