The impossible dream of sharing my Canon printer between a Mac and a PC
April 24, 2006 8:15 PM   Subscribe

I think I just need a USB switch. Simple solution needed for sharing my new Canon printer (working wonderfully with my Windows 98 SE machine) with my true love's Mac OS X (10.3...) machine.

True networking seems to be out - the drivers aren't there, and Canon isn't playing nice with the open-source crowd. We got a Belkin switch (F1U201), but it only supports OS X up to 10.2 - tried it anyway, doesn't work. Need a simple, cheap, probably mechanical USB switch. Want something that will definitely work as we're all tired of messing with the printer setup. Anyone dealt with this?

I still like the Canon printer, even in the face of their annoying driver proprietariness, because of the cool every-color-ink-in-its-own-cartridge system they have (and other things); less waste. And I love the printer now; it's been three days and I think we've bonded.

I looked around through Google, found and (among others, naturally), but none of the switches I found there looked that good; I looked at the manufacturer site for one brand and it looks like communication is not their top priority, plus people were not reviewing this product well. IOGear looks pretty good, but if it is good, from whom should I purchase?

I'm tired of sifting; I've been looking for over an hour for a simple thingamajig that should probably cost $20-$40, maybe less. Has anyone solved this problem? Am I going about it the wrong way?

We had a print server before; it won't work with this setup (it had parallel ports), plus my guy says he looked into the drivers (alluded to above) and network printing isn't supported.

The printer is a Canon Pixma iP5200, if that matters to anyone.

posted by amtho to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
You can't install the printer on one machine, share it, then create a "network printer" on the other machine that connects to the first?

And as a short-term fix, you could print to PDF easily on Mac OS X, then print the PDF on the PC.
posted by todbot at 8:32 PM on April 24, 2006

Response by poster: Hey todbot,

No, we can't do that. I don't think it's possible going either way (i.e. with the printer directly connected to the PC or the Mac). I haven't personally worked on that issue in this case (though I did enable printer sharing on my PC and shared the printer), the dude at the other desk spent the time trying to get it to work. If he says it won't work, and the drivers don't support it, I believe him.

I've also come across other information that lends credence to this conclusion; for example, there's a unix/linux/BSD-I-think utility you can *buy* to help set up various printers, and it doesn't include this Canon in its supported printer list.

Yes, we can do the PDF thing, but I'm looking for a more permanent solution that's kinder to him. He shouldn't have to turn on two computers, let alone operate two computers, to print.

Just, does anyone know a simple USB hardware switch they can recommend? It's fine, preferable perhaps, if it requires pushing a button. Software problems are why the Belkin switch we got won't work.
posted by amtho at 8:39 PM on April 24, 2006

First link on amazon for usb switch.
posted by fuzzy_wuzzy at 9:19 PM on April 24, 2006

Keyspan USB server. Looks like the coolest thing since sliced bread. I don't have one, yet.

Does exactly what you ask for, and you could print over wifi besides if you have it. It's basically like putting a network (wiredless or wired) between your USB port and the printer's. Works with Mac and PC.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:44 PM on April 24, 2006

Of course, for the price of the Keyspan USB print server, probably much less, you could just buy another printer.
posted by kindall at 10:31 PM on April 24, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, fuzzy_wuzzy - I think I saw that on Amazon in my previous wanderings, and I'm pretty sure it's the same as the most promising one I saw on - the manufacturer didn't impress me, and the reviews weren't too encouraging. But I'll keep it in mind.

We considered a USB print server, but are fairly convinced that it won't work with this printer. Alas, the Keyspan server, though it looks like it might be a possibility otherwise, doesn't appear to support Windows earlier than 2000 (and it only supports USB 1.1, which isn't a deal killer, but is a little off-putting). And I like my Win98 and don't want to upgrade.
posted by amtho at 3:28 AM on April 25, 2006

Are you sure there's no way to share it via the Mac? Every CUPS/Gimp-print/whatever-it's-called-now driver that comes with OS X *should* support USB Printer Sharing right out of the box. The trick might be to use the system's driver and not Canon's (probably ancient) version that came on a CD with the printer.
posted by bcwinters at 6:21 AM on April 25, 2006

it only supports USB 1.1, which isn't a deal killer, but is a little off-putting

I think you'll find that the printer doesn't take advantage of USB 2.0 high-speed anyway.
posted by kindall at 8:43 AM on April 25, 2006

I second RikiTikiTavi's suggestion for a usb server. You could also probably rig up something with an ethernet network/print server...
posted by fvox13 at 9:40 AM on April 25, 2006

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