Connecting to a Ubuntu Shared Printer

Posted by : Rob Stevens | Sunday, February 07, 2010 | Published in

I've recently had to rebuild my Linux server following a hard drive failure and have had to go through the hassle of once again getting my file and print shares correctly configured. As with all system rebuilds, you learn from the process of last time and add in the improvements and extra features that you wish you'd thought of then. This time around I've gone with the x64 version of Ubuntu Server 9.10 and tried to keep it much more minimal than last time with as few services running, and as much crap removed as possible.
Admittedly my Linux knowledge has improved somewhat since the last time I did this a couple of years ago, but this time round the process of getting things how I want them has been much less torturous. Setting up the file sharing was a breeze and getting the printer installed and shared, while not exactly easy was not as bad as last time.

Anyhow, I'm digressing from the point of this post. All of the above was fairly straight forward and non-bitchy. The irritations started when I started trying to connect Windows clients to the printer. The two that I set up initially are both Windows 7 Professional. One is x64, the other x86.

The x86 machine connected to the printer fine, but I hit problems when it came to selecting a driver. Obviously the my model wasn't included in the list of pre-installed drivers, that would be far too easy. For some reason Windows 7 doesn't give you the option for searching Windows Update for drivers when you're connecting a network printer and the printer manufacturer doesn't supply one. They tell you to use Windows Update. After much hunting around, swearing, and trying to extract the driver from manufacturer driver releases for earlier OS' I stumbled upon this Microsoft support article telling you how to manually download Windows updates via the web. Yes, it should be obvious that such a useful site exists, but I had no idea it was there, so I'm guessing quite a few others don't either. We learn something new every day, and all that... Anyhow, a quick hunt around on here found me the driver files I needed, and problem solved.

The x64 version however was altogether bitchier. Trying to connect resulted in a typically descriptive error of "cannot connect to printer". A little help here. Why can't you connect? Just a hint? Cue more hunting around on Google. Whilst this failed to produce a direct fix, I did discover quite a useful workaround:

Open up a command prompt and type

net use LPT2: \\servername\printer

Then start the 'Add Printer Wizard' and choose to connect to a local printer. Select LPT2 and you will then be presented with a driver selection screen that actually lets you use Windows Update to acquire your driver. Imagine that!

I also have to get around to adding this printer to the Vista Home and XP Pro machines we have here. Lets see what problems that throws up...

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