I can haz printjob? Wirelessly?
May 9, 2008 3:19 PM   Subscribe

We have two Mac laptops, an older Compaq laptop running some flavor of Linux, an HP inkjet printer, and a wireless router. Please help me set up the Linux laptop to play (semi-) wireless printserver for the Macs.

I have a MacBook Pro, and my fiancée a MacBook. Both are from 2006, running Tiger.
I also have a Compaq laptop, from about 2003, now ostensibly running Linux but mostly taking up space on a spare desk. (It's been a year and change since the Linux---some form of Ubuntu, I believe---was installed, so an upgrade is probably in order here.)
Finally, I have an HP Photosmart C3180 inkjet printer, which runs via USB; a wireless router (a Linksys, if it matters); and a wireless card for the Compaq.

I'd like to set things up so that the printer can be plugged into the Compaq, through which I can print wirelessly from the Macs. Can this be done?

(Among the potential complicating factors: We have no outside network service. This thing would be completely isolated. Also, while I used to be fairly decent with Linux, it's been several years since I used it on a regular basis, and I was never great with networking.)
posted by FlyingMonkey to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unless the Rube Goldberg aspect of your proposal is its central attraction to you, it makes more sense to spend $50 on a wireless print server that will get you printing wirelessly right out of the box. (I'll trade you one for that Compaq laptop . . .)
posted by gum at 4:10 PM on May 9, 2008

Agreed with gum. Unless your linux laptop never sleeps, it sounds more trouble than its worth.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:28 PM on May 9, 2008

I'd normally agree with the buy-a-printserver-and-be-done-with-it feeling, but at least Mandriva works with that device, and would support using the scanner, which is probably more than you can say for most printservers as far as I can tell. Even if you run the laptop headless, you can configure the scanner buttons to dump images into a share directory, and get that photocopier-like simplicity everybody loves.
posted by Orb2069 at 6:15 PM on May 9, 2008

It's totally possible, and you'll be able to do a lot more with the setup than just print. You can also use it as a central file server for backups and what have you.

There's many, many ways to go about it. Probably the easiest would be to upgrade Ubuntu to 8.04 and share the printer over samba. You'll then add the printer through os x's system preferences. It will show up as a "Windows" printer, in whatever workgroup you've configured the linux box to use. Select it, install the mac printer drivers and set as default. Configure the linux box's power settings as desired, perhaps working up to a wake-from-ethernet type setup.

That will work if Ubuntu has a driver for the printer. If no linux driver exists for your printer, you can still serve it up wirelessly, it's just a little more involved. You need to install CUPS and Samba, configure a raw CUPS printer, and then serve it up using Samba. Google's your friend, here. (client setup is the same as above). Lots of text config file editing with this option, but you can run a fairly spartan distro like slackware 10.2. Though more difficult to configure initially, it's less pain down the road since it will work about as effortlessly as a light switch after that. No user-level programs need to run, so it works when you turn it on and stops when you turn it off. CUPS has a pretty nice web interface, so you can control the print queue wirelessly from the clients, caching documents, setting page limits, viewing histories, cancelling documents, resetting the queue and more.
posted by kickback at 8:31 AM on May 10, 2008

Plug the wireless card in the laptop, connect to the wireless network, give the laptop a static ip address.

There's no need for samba, OS X can print using CUPS's native protocol, IPP; Apple owns CUPS after all. The option was hiding under the 'Advanced' section of the 'Add Printer' dialog when I last used OS X. The printer it will be accessible via a URL like ipp://your.laptop:631/printers/printername. You ought to be able to determine the exact URL from the CUPS web interface accessible from http://localhost:631 on your laptop.
posted by PueExMachina at 9:38 PM on May 10, 2008

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