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From CUPS' site:
- "CUPS is the standards-based, open source printing system developed by Apple Inc. for OS® X and other UNIX®-like operating systems".
Although there are other printing packages such as LPRNG, the Common Unix Printing System is the most popular choice because of its relative ease of use.
- 1 Cups Linux Printing workflow
- 2 Installing the client package
- 3 Installing the server packages
- 4 Configuring
- 5 Troubleshooting
- 5.1 Problems resulting from upgrades
- 5.2 Other
- 5.2.1 CUPS permission errors
- 5.2.2 HPLIP printer sends "/usr/lib/cups/backend/hp failed" error
- 5.2.3 HPLIP printer claims job is complete but printer does nothing
- 5.2.4 hp-toolbox sends an error, "Unable to communicate with device"
- 5.2.5 CUPS returns '"foomatic-rip" not available/stopped with status 3' with a HP printer
- 5.2.6 Printing fails with unauthorised error
- 5.2.7 Print button greyed-out in GNOME print dialogs
- 5.2.8 Unknown supported format: application/postscript
- 5.2.9 Finding URIs for Windows Print Servers
- 5.2.10 Print-Job client-error-document-format-not-supported
- 5.2.11 /usr/lib/cups/backend/hp failed
- 5.2.12 "Unable to get list of printer drivers"
- 5.2.13 lp: Error - Scheduler Not Responding
- 5.2.14 Installed Printers Do Not Appear in Print Dialogs After Installing/Upgrading to Systemd
- 5.2.15 CUPS prints only an empty and an error-message page on HP LaserJet
- 5.2.16 "Using invalid Host" error message
- 6 Appendix
- 7 See also
Cups Linux Printing workflow
There are two ways to setup a printer:
- If there's a Linux cups server running in your network and sharing a printer you only need to install the client package.
- The printer is connected directly to your system or you have access to an IPP network printer then setup a local cups server
Installing the client package
Then add your CUPS server's IP address or hostname into
/etc/cups/client.conf. That is all you need. Every application should quickly find the printer(s) shared by that CUPS server.
Optional advanced network setup
It is also possible to run a entire cupsd instance on your client with Avahi browsing enabled to discover unknown shared printers in your network. This can be useful in large setups where the server is unknown.
Installing the server packages
- cups - the actual CUPS daemon
- cups-filters - essential filters
- avahi - to make your printers browsable through your network
- ghostscript - (optional) PostScript interpreter
- gsfonts - GhostScript standard Type1 fonts
- hpoj - If you are using an HP Officejet, you should also install this package and follow the instructions to avoid problems as in this thread.
If the system is connected to a networked printer using the Samba protocol or if the system is to be a print server for Windows clients, also install .
As of cups version 1.6 avahi-daemon should be started before cupsd if you want to enable printer browsing through your network.
Here are some of the driver packages. Choosing the right driver depends on the printer:
- GIMP - A collection of high quality drivers for Canon, Epson, Lexmark, Sony, Olympus, and PCL printers for use with GhostScript, CUPS, Foomatic, and the
- , , , and - Foomatic is a database-driven system for integrating free software printer drivers with common spoolers under Unix. Installing foomatic-filters should solve problems if the cups error_log is reporting "stopped with status 22!".
- here. Package is available in the AUR. AUR - Drivers for ZjStream protocol printers such as the HP Laserjet 1018. More info
- - HP drivers for DeskJet, OfficeJet, Photosmart, Business Inkjet and some LaserJet printer models, as well as a number of Brother printers.
- - Samsung drivers for SPL (Samsung Printer Language) printers
- AUR. AUR - Unified Linux Driver for Samsung printers and scanners. Required for new printers such as the ML-2160. Package is available in the
- AUR. AUR or AUR - Canon UFR2 driver with support for LBP, iR and MF series printers. Package is available in the
- - A package that allows one to setup a virtual PDF Printer that generates a PDF out of jobs sent to it
If you are not sure of what driver package to install or if the current driver is not working, it may be easiest to just install all of the drivers. Some of the package names are misleading because printers of other makes may rely on them. For example, the Brother HL-2140 needs the hplip driver installed.
Download printer PPD
Depending on the printer, this step is optional and may not be needed, as the standard CUPS installation already comes with quite a few PPD (Postscript Printer Description) files. Moreover, the foomatic-filters, gimp-print and hplip packages already include quite a few PPD files which will automatically be detected by CUPS.
Here is an explanation of what a PPD file is from the Linux Printing website:
- "For every PostScript printer the manufacturers provide a PPD file which contains all printer-specific information about the particular printer model: Basic printer capabilities as whether the printer is a color printer, fonts, PostScript level, etc., and especially the user-adjustable options, as paper size, resolution, etc."
If the PPD for the printer is not already in CUPS, then:
- check AUR to see if there are packages for the printer/manufacturer
- visit the OpenPrinting database and select the manufacturer and model of the printer
- visit the manufacturer's site and search for GNU/Linux drivers
Now that CUPS is installed, there are a variety of options on how to set up printing solutions. As always, the tried and true command line method is at your disposal. Likewise, various desktop environments such as GNOME and KDE have useful programs that can help manage printers. However, in order to make this process easy for the largest amount of users, this article will focus on the web interface provided by CUPS.
If you are planning on connecting to a network printer, rather than one that is directly connected to the computer, you might want to read the CUPS printer sharing page first. Printer sharing between GNU/Linux systems is quite easy and involves very little configuration, whereas sharing between a Windows and GNU/Linux host requires a little bit more effort.
USB printers can get accessed with two methods: The usblp kernel module and libusb. The former is the classic way. It is simple: Data is sent to the printer by writing it to a device file as a simple serial data stream. Reading the same device file allows bi-di access, at least for things like reading out ink levels, status, or printer capability information (PJL). It works very well for simple printers, but for multi-function devices (printer/scanner) it is not suitable and manufacturers like HP supply their own backends. (source: here)
Before using the CUPS web interface, the appropriate kernel modules need to be installed. The following steps are from the Gentoo Printing Guide.
This section may not be necessary, however, depending on which kernel is being used. The kernel module may load automatically after plugging in the printer. Use the
tail command (described below) to see if the printer has already been detected. The
lsmod utility can also be used to see what modules have been loaded.
If you find out this is the only way to fix a remaining issue please report this upstream to the CUPS bug tracker and maybe also get in contact with Till Kamppeter (Debian CUPS maintainer). See upstream bug for more.
Some USB printer users may want to try if blacklisting the
usblp module would help:
Custom kernel users may need to manually load the
usbcore module before proceeding:
# modprobe usbcore
Once the modules are installed, plug in the printer and check if the kernel detected it by running the following:
# tail /var/log/messages.log
If you're using
usblp, the output should indicate that the printer has been detected like so:
Feb 19 20:17:11 kernel: printer.c: usblp0: USB Bidirectional printer dev 2 if 0 alt 0 proto 2 vid 0x04E8 pid 0x300E Feb 19 20:17:11 kernel: usb.c: usblp driver claimed interface cfef3920 Feb 19 20:17:11 kernel: printer.c: v0.13: USB Printer Device Class driver
If you blacklisted
usblp, you will see something like:
usb 3-2: new full speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 3 usb 3-2: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
Parallel port printers
To use a parallel port printer the configuration is pretty much the same, except for the modules:
# modprobe lp # modprobe parport # modprobe parport_pc
Once again, check the setup by running:
# tail /var/log/messages.log
It should display something like this:
lp0: using parport0 (polling).
If you are using a USB to parallel port adapter, CUPS will not be able to detect the printer. As a workaround, add the printer using a different connection type and then change DeviceID in
DeviceID = parallel:/dev/usb/lp0
It is convenient to have the system automatically load the kernel module every time it starts up. To do so, use a text editor to open up
/etc/modules-load.d/printing.conf and add the appropriate modules one per line. Here is an example:
lp parport parport_pc
Web interface and tool-kit
Once the daemon is running, open a browser and go to: http://localhost:631 (The localhost string may need to be replaced with the hostname found in
From here, follow the various wizards to add the printer. A usual procedure is to start by clicking on Adding Printers and Classes and then Add Printer. When prompted for a username and password, log in as root. The name assigned to the printer does not matter, the same applies for 'location' and 'description'. Next, a list of devices to select from will be presented. The actual name of the printer shows up next to the label (e.g., next to USB Printer #1 for USB printers). Finally, choose the appropriate drivers and the configuration is complete.
Now test the configuration by pressing the Maintenance drop-down menu then Print Test Page. If it does not print and there is certainty regarding the correctness of applied settings, then the problem is most likely due to missing a proper printer driver.
A username and password will be required when administering the printer in the web interface, such as: adding or removing printers, stopping print tasks, etc. The default username is the one assigned in the sys group, or root (change this by editing
/etc/cups/cupsd.conf in the line of
If the root account has been locked (i.e. when using sudo), it is not possible to log in the CUPS administration interface with the default username and password. In this case, follow these instructions on the CUPS FAQ. You might also want to read this post.
Remote access to web interface
By default, the CUPS web interface can only be accessed by the localhost; i.e. the computer that it is installed on. To remotely access the interface, make the following changes to the
/etc/cups/cupsd.conf file. Replace the line:
so that CUPS listens to incoming requests.
Three levels of access can be granted:
<Location /> #access to the server <Location /admin> #access to the admin pages <Location /admin/conf> #access to configuration files
To give remote hosts access to one of these levels, add an
Allow statement to that level's section. An
Allow statement can take one or more of the forms listed below:
Allow from all Allow from host.domain.com Allow from *.domain.com Allow from ip-address Allow from ip-address/netmask
Deny statements can also be used. For example, if wanting to give all hosts on the 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 subnet full access, file
/etc/cups/cupsd.conf would include this:
# Restrict access to the server... # By default only localhost connections are possible <Location /> Order allow,deny Allow from localhost Allow from 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 </Location> # Restrict access to the admin pages... <Location /admin> # Encryption disabled by default #Encryption Required Order allow,deny Allow from localhost Allow from 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 </Location> # Restrict access to configuration files... <Location /admin/conf> AuthType Basic Require user @SYSTEM Order allow,deny Allow From localhost Allow From 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 </Location>
You might also need to add:
This should avoid the error: 426 - Upgrade Required when using the CUPS web interface from a remote machine.
The best way to get printing working is to set 'LogLevel' in
And then viewing the output from
/var/log/cups/error_log like this:
# tail -n 100 -f /var/log/cups/error_log
The characters at the left of the output stand for:
- And so on
These files may also prove useful:
/var/log/cups/page_log- Echoes a new entry each time a print is successful
/var/log/cups/access_log- Lists all cupsd http1.1 server activity
Of course, it is important to know how CUPS works if wanting to solve related issues:
- An application sends a .ps file (PostScript, a script language that details how the page will look) to CUPS when 'print' has been selected (this is the case with most programs).
- CUPS then looks at the printer's PPD file (printer description file) and figures out what filters it needs to use to convert the .ps file to a language that the printer understands (like PJL, PCL), usually GhostScript.
- GhostScript takes the input and figures out which filters it should use, then applies them and converts the .ps file to a format understood by the printer.
- Then it is sent to the back-end. For example, if the printer is connected to a USB port, it uses the USB back-end.
Print a document and watch
error_log to get a more detailed and correct image of the printing process.
Problems resulting from upgrades
Issues that appeared after CUPS and related program packages underwent a version increment
CUPS stops working
The chances are that a new configuration file is needed for the new version to work properly. Messages such as "404 - page not found" may result from trying to manage CUPS via localhost:631, for example.
To use the new configuration, copy /etc/cups/cupsd.conf.default to /etc/cups/cupsd.conf (backup the old configuration if needed):
# cp /etc/cups/cupsd.conf.default /etc/cups/cupsd.conf
and restart CUPS to employ the new settings.
All jobs are "stopped"
If all jobs sent to the printer become "stopped", delete the printer and add it again. Using the CUPS web interface, go to Printers > Delete Printer.
To check the printer's settings go to Printers, then Modify Printer. Copy down the information displayed, click 'Modify Printer' to proceed to the next page(s), and so on.
All jobs are "The printer is not responding"
On networked printers, you should check that the name that CUPS uses as its connection URI resolves to the printer's IP via DNS, e.g. If your printer's connection looks like this:
then the hostname 'BRN_020554' needs to resolve to the printer's IP from the server running CUPS
The PPD version is not compatible with gutenprint
And restart CUPS (as pointed out in gutenprint's post-install message)
CUPS permission errors
- Some users fixed 'NT_STATUS_ACCESS_DENIED' (Windows clients) errors by using a slightly different syntax:
- Sometimes, the block device has wrong permissions:
# ls /dev/usb/ lp0 # chgrp lp /dev/usb/lp0
HPLIP printer sends "/usr/lib/cups/backend/hp failed" error
Make sure dbus is installed and running. If the error persists, try starting the avahi-daemon.
Try adding the printer as a Network Printer using the http:// protocol. Generate the printer URI with
HPLIP printer claims job is complete but printer does nothing
This happens on hp printers when you select the (old) hpijs driver (e.g. the Deskjet D1600 series). Instead, use the hpcups driver when adding the printer.
Some hp printers (e.g hp Laserjet) require their firmware to be downloaded from the computer every time the printer is switched on. If there is an issue with udev (or equivalent) and the firmware download rule is never fired, you may experience this issue. As a workaround, you can manually download the firmware to the printer. Ensure the printer is plugged in and switched on, then enter
hp-toolbox sends an error, "Unable to communicate with device"
If running hp-toolbox as a regular user results in:
# hp-toolbox # error: Unable to communicate with device (code=12): hp:/usb/<printer id>
Unable to communicate with device"", then it may be needed to add the user to the lp group.
This can also be caused by printers such as the P1102 that provide a virtual cd-rom drive for MS-Windows drivers. The lp dev appears and then disappears. In that case try the usb-modeswitch and usb-modeswitch-data packages, that lets one switch off the "Smart Drive" (udev rules included in said packages).
This can also occur with network attached printers if the avahi-daemon is not running.
CUPS returns '"foomatic-rip" not available/stopped with status 3' with a HP printer
If receiving any of the following error messages in
/var/log/cups/error_log while using a HP printer, with jobs appearing to be processed while they all end up not being completed with their status set to 'stopped':
Filter "foomatic-rip" for printer "<printer_name>" not available: No such file or director
PID 5771 (/usr/lib/cups/filter/foomatic-rip) stopped with status 3!
# pacman -S hplip
If the user has been added to the lp group, and allowed to print (set in
cupsd.conf), then the problem lies in
/etc/cups/printers.conf. This line could be the culprit:
Comment it out and restart CUPS.
Be sure the package: libgnomeprint is installed
/etc/cups/cupsd.conf and add
# HostNameLookups Double
# systemctl restart cups
Unknown supported format: application/postscript
Comment the lines:
application/octet-stream application/vnd.cups-raw 0 -
Finding URIs for Windows Print Servers
Sometimes Windows is a little less than forthcoming about exact device URIs (device locations). If having trouble specifying the correct device location in CUPS, run the following command to list all shares available to a certain windows username:
$ smbtree -U windowsusername
This will list every share available to a certain Windows username on the local area network subnet, as long as Samba is set up and running properly. It should return something like this:
WORKGROUP \\REGULATOR-PC \\REGULATOR-PC\Z \\REGULATOR-PC\Public \\REGULATOR-PC\print$ Printer Drivers \\REGULATOR-PC\G \\REGULATOR-PC\EPSON Stylus CX8400 Series EPSON Stylus CX8400 Series
What is needed here is first part of the last line, the resource matching the printer description. So to print to the EPSON Stylus printer, one would enter:
smb://username.password@REGULATOR-PC/EPSON Stylus CX8400 Series
as the URI into CUPS. Notice that whitespaces are allowed in URIs, whereas backslashes get replaced with forward slashes.
Try installing the foomatic packages and use a foomatic driver.
SystemGroup sys root
SystemGroup lp root
Following steps 1-3 in the Alternative CUPS interfaces below may be a better solution, since newer versions of cups will not allow the same group for both normal and admin operation.
"Unable to get list of printer drivers"
Try to remove Foomatic drivers.
lp: Error - Scheduler Not Responding
If you get this error when printing a document using:
$ lp document-to-print
Try setting the CUPS_SERVER environment variable:
$ export CUPS_SERVER=localhost
If this solves your problem, make the solution permanent by adding the export line above to ~/.bash_profile.
Installed Printers Do Not Appear in Print Dialogs After Installing/Upgrading to Systemd
Systemd uses a different cups socket file located at:
The default cups socket file is located at:
Edit /etc/cups/cupsd.conf and /etc/cups/client.conf as root to use the Systemd socket instead of the default. Make sure to restart CUPS when you are done:
# systemctl restart cups
CUPS prints only an empty and an error-message page on HP LaserJet
There is a bug that causes CUPS to fail when printing images on HP LaserJet (in my case 3380). The bug has been reported and fixed by Ubuntu. The first page is empty, the second page contains the following error message:
ERROR: invalidaccess OFFENDING COMMAND: filter STACK: /SubFileDecode endstream ...
In order to fix the issue, use the following command (as superuser):
lpadmin -p <printer> -o pdftops-renderer-default=pdftops
"Using invalid Host" error message
Try to add "ServerAlias *" into cupsd.conf
Alternative CUPS interfaces
If using GNOME, a possibility is to manage and configure the printer by using system-config-printer-gnome. This package is available through pacman:
# pacman -S system-config-printer-gnome
For system-config-printer to work as it should, running as root may be required, or alternatively set up a "normal" user to administer CUPS (if so follow steps 1-3)
- 1. Create group, and add a user to it
# groupadd lpadmin # usermod -aG lpadmin <username>
- 2. Add "lpadmin" (without the quotes) to this line in
SystemGroup sys root <insert here>
- 3. Restart cups, log out and in again (or restart computer)
# systemctl restart cups
KDE users can modify their printers from the Control Center. Both should refer to those desktop environments' documentation for more information on how to use the interfaces.
PDF virtual printer
CUPS-PDF is a nice package that allows one to setup a virtual printer that will generate a PDF from anything sent to it. Obviously this package is not necessary, but it can be quite useful.
Find generated PDF documents in a sub-directory located at
/var/spool/cups-pdf. Normally, the subdirectory is named after the user who performed the job. A little tweak helps you to find your printed PDF documents more easily. Edit
/etc/cups/cups-pdf.conf by changing the line
This package can be installed by the following command:
# pacman -S cups-pdf
After installing the package, set it up as if it were for any other printer by using the web interface. For the Device, select CUPS-PDF (Virtual PDF Printer); Make/Manufacturer, choose Generic; Model/Driver, select Generic postscript color printer or Generic Cups-PDF Printer. Alternatively, provide the PPD file from this link.
Print to PostScript: CUPS-PDF virtual printer trick
Printing to PDF in most applications like OpenOffice is no problem; just hit the button. Yet when printing out to postscript, matters take a little more work. For applications like OpenOffice where printing to kprinter is nebulous at best, there has to be another way—and there is. The CUPS-PDF (Virtual PDF Printer) actually creates a PostScript file and then creates the PDF using the ps2pdf utility. To print to postscript, what needs to be done is capturing the intermediate postscript file created by CUPS-PDF. This is easily accomplished with by selecting the "print to file" option in the print dialog. (choose either .ps or .eps as the extension) After selecting the "print to file" checkbox simply enter the file name and click "print".
Configuring CUPS-PDF virtual printer
- Set up the CUPS daemon using the instructions on this page.
- Install official repositories. from the
- Access the cups print manager: http://localhost:631 and select:
Administration -> Add Printer Select CUPS-PDF (Virtual PDF), choose for the make and driver: Make: Generic Driver: Generic CUPS-PDF Printer
Now to print to PostScript, just print as usual, in the print dialog choose "CUPS-PDF" as the printer, then select the checkbox for "print to file", hit print, enter the filename.ps and click save. This is handy for faxes, etc...
Another source for printer drivers
Turboprint is a proprietary driver for many printers not yet supported by GNU/Linux (Canon i*, for example). Unlike CUPS, however, high quality prints are either marked with a watermark or are a pay-only service.