Hardware & Software

Printing in Linux with CUPS

December 16, 2015

Guest Author

Photo Credit: printercat via Jacob Davies cc

In Linux an understanding of Common UNIX Printing System (CUPS) is essential for System Administrators. Printing is important and don’t overlook this subject as an IT professional working in a Linux environment.

CUPS Installation and Configuration

CUPS normally comes already installed with most Linux distributions. This was the case for Arch Linux on my system.

Add Printer Drivers for CUPS

This step proved difficult for me intially. My unfamiliarity with printing troubleshooting and printer drivers was why.

As one of a few who run Linux in the office, I didn’t have a good reference to properly connect to the main office printer. Also, the printer we use does not have a specific driver associated with it for Linux. How do you resolve the issue? Read the distribution specific page on CUPS and test out solutions.

How I configured CUPS for a printer with no specific printer driver for linux

After reading through the Arch Linux CUPS page, the solution still seemed far off. I installed the gutenprint drivers, which are open source drivers for Canon, Epson, and a number of other printers.

Unlike before, the printer driver close enough to the printer model appeared in the browser interface when adding the printer. After adding the driver, I successfully printed a job over the network. The solution proved a matter of research, trial, and error. Google search is always a good place to start research, but the official distribution web pages contain the specific answers you need most of the time.

How to become proficient with CUPS

The CUPS software acts as a printer server for local and network printers. The software accepts and converts information to send to the printer. CUPS is accessible via the command-line GUI or browser interface. Admins should learn about printing management from all of these options. Proficiency from the command-line and web interface is imperative for admins, especially those looking to take the CompTIA Linux+ certification exams.

Use these free resources to tackle the Linux+ exam

The easiest option entails using the browser interface which is accessible at http://localhost:631/. From the browser you have the ability to add, find, manager printers, review pending and completed jobs.

The browser interface supplies learning info for users, administrators, and developers. The information, as well as the man page for CUPS, walks through the initial process for locating and adding new printers, setting the default printer, and complicated features and options.

The best way to learn about printing in Linux is through real world experience. Troubleshooting issues comes through getting to know the printer(s) in an environment. Despite prior research on common troubleshooting issues and concers for specific printers, each printer presents various complexities. Becoming proficient in printer troubleshooting is often a matter of trial and error. My first exposure as a Digital Technician for a university computer lab taught me this lesson early. 

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