Best way to share a printer?
September 24, 2012 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Best way to share a printer (and/or set up a print server) in a college dorm?

So my brother is starting college this month. He and his roommate are sharing a printer. If they have to, they can just plug or unplug their computers from the printer whenever they need to print, but that seems tedious. Ideally I would like to help him set up a print server so that either of them can print to the printer at any time, whether or not the printer is plugged into one of the laptops, but I'm open to other suggestions.

The dorm has both wired and wireless internet, explained roughly here. I would also like it if their computers and the printer were somehow isolated from the rest of the network, to prevent everyone and their mother from printing to it.

posted by nickhb to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Apple's Airport Express? If they both have Macs, the computer prints wirelessly as if it were connected with a wire, and it can be locked to only certain users. works on PCs, too, but I have no experience with that.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:05 PM on September 24, 2012

Would Google Cloud Print (with the appropriate cloud printing software downloaded to their computers) meet their needs? Do they already have a printer or can they choose a printer that natively supports cloud printing?

Also: do they really need a printer? If I were going to college today I wouldn't take a printer. I got through grad school with no printer at home, though I had a printer at work. Actually now that I think about it, I threw out my printer halfway through grad school because I never used it.
posted by mskyle at 1:08 PM on September 24, 2012

This is actually very simple. Assuming the university allows them, just get your own consumer-grade wireless access point / router and plug it into the dorm's ethernet. Just as a such a setup isolates your home's private LAN from the Internet at-large, so too will this isolate the computers and printer in a dorm room from the rest of the university network while still providing access to it through Network Address Translation.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:24 PM on September 24, 2012

Without buying any hardware, simply share your printer out using the default OS capabilities, whether that's Windows or Mac. Being on the same network, unless there is some weird VLAN stuff going on, should allow connectivity to the shared printer easily. Look up basic instructions for firewalls to answer your security question.
posted by odinsdream at 2:01 PM on September 24, 2012

Residents are not allowed to set up personal wireless access points in accordance with NSIT policy.
And furthermore,
No static IP addresses are available.

Basically, the network admins will hate you forever if you try to set up wireless printing in the dorm. The happy news is that you can use the university print services wirelessly, and even at 10c a page it will probably still be reasonable compared to buying ink.
posted by anaelith at 6:46 PM on September 24, 2012

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