Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Linux/UNIX/Open Source

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Buying Advice, CUPS of Print Job Security, and Printing PDQ

For those who are new to Linux, one of the most difficult things to wrap your head around is the idea of choice. Oh, sure, you can get lots of different word-processing packages for Windows and for Linux. The difference is that, with Linux, doing things differently goes right down to the bone. I can rebuild my kernel to take advantage of little-known, super-cool performance enhancements. I can change the way I talk to every device hooked up to my system. I can even decide how I want to print. One gives you choices, the other gives you choices! That's not always easy for the new Linux user to get used to.

Printing is what we are talking about, and this is where I will turn this analogy. If you are running Windows, you simply do your Settings-Printers thing, and away you go. Along comes Linux, which says, "Well, you could print using the standard lpd system, or LPRng, or IPP, or CUPS, or PDQ. Oh, and you can use Red Hat filters, and custom bash filters, and Ghostscript filters, and...." Choice is a hard thing to get used to, but once you do get the hang of options, they become an addiction that's good for you and good for the software industry as a whole.

People talk about getting "stuck" or "caught" with a printer that doesn't work. When I bought my HP710C printer, I just assumed (ouch!) that anything from HP would work with Linux. After all, they make that great OS, HP-UX. It's easy to be wrong. If you find yourself looking at a new printer and wondering whether it is a good idea for your Linux system, there's the ever-popular hardware compatibility list, but, for printers, it gets better. Check out Grant Taylor's printer compatibility list at http://www.picante.com/~gtaylor/pht/printer_list.cgi.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page, and you'll find one of the coolest things about Grant's resource. For instance, you can select a particular manufacturer and get a list of all printers made by them, what level of support they offer, and what you might need to do to make them work. This is a good thing if you already have a particular printer and you want to know what filter or drivers are out there for your Linux system. Let's pretend I have a Canon BJC2000 series printer, and I want to know whether it would work. By choosing All Printers Made by Canon and clicking on Go, the next page would tell me that the BJC2000 works "almost perfectly." If I click on the link representing the printer itself, I get even more information. In fact, the detail page tells me that my best bet with this printer, using Ghostscript, is with this device option:

-sDEVICE=bjc600

The less adventurous (who haven't already spent the money on a printer) can use the safer reporting option on the first page. Simply ask to see which color inkjet printers (or laser printers or whatever) work perfectly. The resulting report lists these printers by manufacturer, with appropriate links to detailed descriptions of individual models.

I want to go back to this whole idea of choosing your print system (and, in effect, the filters). One of the coolest printing options I've run across is something called PDQ. According to the author, Jacob A. Langford, it stands for "print, don't queue" and a variety of other acronyms.

PDQ is a nice, friendly little package that works on Linux and a variety of other Unix systems. I'm not sure I agree a hundred percent with Jacob's reasoning on printing, accounting, and queuing, but that doesn't detract from PDQ's value. While it seems quite capable of dealing with large deployments of printers, what I particularly like about PDQ is that it presents the kind of friendly face which users of that other operating system find so appealing, complete with a slick X-Windows-like interface and "wizards" to help you set up your printers quickly and easily. You can even use Grant Taylor's compatibility list to find the latest PDQ drivers and filters in his "PDQ-O-Matic" section.

Downloading the PDQ source and installing is easy. The latest release at this time is pdq-2.1.2. All I had to do was untar and unzip, and then do a make. followed by a make install. Like this:

tar -xzvf pdq-2.1.2.tgz
cd pdq-2.1.2
make
make install

Now set up a base printrc configuration file, like this: mv /etc/pdq/printrc.example /etc/pdq/printrc.

To start PDQ and configure your first printer, simply type this command:

xpdq &

When the interface comes up, click on Printer; then choose Add and follow the steps in the printer wizard. When you move your mouse over a field, PDQ also has context-sensitive "bubble" help to guide you.

When you get the driver selection screen, you may find that list somewhat limited—only about a dozen printers are listed, although you may be able to use a generic definition. For my HP LaserJet 5L, I went back to Grant Taylor's printer compatibility list, found my printer, and clicked on the "PDQ-O-Matic" list. To install this new driver, I did the following:

cd /etc/pdq/drivers/hp

In the drivers directory, there are subdirectories for the printer classes (or brands, if you prefer). After changing to the hp directory, I used vi (you can use emacs, pico, or whatever editor you prefer) and simply cut and pasted the information on the "PDQ-O-Matic" screen. Then I restarted xpdq, and my printer was now in the list.

To print a job using PDQ, you send the job via the command line (did I mention there are command-line utilities that let you do what the X interface does?). The format is simple. For my test, I even sent a Postscript file. I wanted to see PDQ's drivers and filters in action:

pdq -P hp5lj /tmp/oneliners.ps

The -P flag calls the printer name as you defined it in the wizard, while /tmp/oneliners.ps is my very important print file. The X interface (xpdq) then reports the status of the job and even allows me the opportunity to reprint it, get a status on it (if it is deep in the list of jobs), or get information on the type of job.

Another alternative to good old-fashioned lpd printing is CUPS. CUPS, or the Common Unix Print System, is designed to be a platform-independent printing system that works across many different Unixes (or Unices, if you prefer). The company that produces CUPS (Easy Software Products) distributes it under the GPL, but you should be aware that the number of print drivers is limited. For large printer support, you should consider their ESP Print Pro, a commercial offering that includes CUPS, lots and lots of printer drivers, and a really cool GUI. If you want to explore CUPS, follow this link: http://www.easysw.com.

CUPS uses the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), a next-generation printing system aimed at replacing LPD with a "universal" printing environment, where any user anywhere could print to any printer anywhere. It also aims to provide better authentication and security. The proposed standard would even allow for encrypted print jobs. Those who are really curious as to where this is going can visit the Printer Working Group Web page.

As I mentioned, CUPS has limited printer support in its free package; however, some popular printers are supported. If you want to go this route but prefer to stick to the freeware version (and you may use the provided drivers), you can still get a nice GUI by running KDE as your desktop. Just get your hands on KUPS from cuendet, available at http://cups.sourceforge.net.

There you have it. Despite rumors to the contrary, there are ways to simplify printing and make it more (ahem) Windows-like in friendliness. Your basic lpd printing and Ghostscript are still important, in that you will find them on every Linux system you install. Red Hat print filters won't necessarily be there, and neither will somebody else's printing method. Many of the alternatives employ these standards, so knowing what's under the hood does not hurt.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020