CUPS/Printer sharing

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Revision as of 15:09, 12 August 2011 by Buergi (talk | contribs) (→‎Between GNU/Linux and Windows: rework of whole section, added and reordered some subsections)
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CUPS provides capabilities to set up printer sharing between different systems. Below you'll find instructions for common scenarios.

Between GNU/Linux systems

Once CUPS has been setup on the GNU/Linux print server, the recommended method of sharing the printer with another GNU/Linux system is through the relatively easy to use web interface, yet manual configuration is also a way.

Using the web interface

Access http://localhost:631 with a browser and the CUPS administration home page will be displayed.

Click on the Administration tab near the top, select the add printer option and it should automatically detect the connected printer. If not, try turning off the printer and then back on before another attempt.

Once the printer has been set up, look under the Server heading and click the checkbox for "Share printers connected to this system". Now, conclude by clicking change settings and the server will automatically restart.

Selecting "Edit Configuration File" allows making direct edits to the Template:Filename file. This is useful for allowing server access only to certain users or IP addresses, as the example shown below.

Manual setup

On the server computer (the one directly connected to the printer) simply open up Template:Filename and allow access to the server by modifying the location lines. For instance:

<Location />
   Order allow,deny
   Allow localhost
   Allow 192.168.0.*

Also make sure the server is listening on the IP address the client will be addressing. Add the following line after "# Listen <serverip>:631" (using the server's IP address instead of client's


To "Show shared printers on the local network", add the line "BrowseAllow all":

Browsing On
BrowseOrder allow,deny
BrowseAllow @LOCAL
BrowseAllow all

After making modifications, restart CUPS by:

# /etc/rc.d/cupsd restart

On the client system, open up (create if not present) Template:Filename and add the ServerName to match the IP address or the name of the server. Add this line:


To "Show shared printers on the local network", add the line "BrowseAllow all":

Browsing On
BrowseOrder allow,deny
BrowseAllow @LOCAL
BrowseAllow all

There are more configuration possibilities, including automatic methods, which are described in detail in http://localhost:631/help/network.html

After making modifications, restart CUPS.

Note: When adding the printer from the client, if using the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), put the URI as ipp://<name-of-printer>

Between GNU/Linux and Windows

Linux server - Windows client

Sharing via IPP

The preferred way to connect a Windows client to a Linux print server is using IPP. It's a standard printer protocol based on HTTP, allowing you all ways to profit from port forwarding, tunneling etc. The configuration is very easy and this way is less error-prone than using Samba. IPP is natively supported by Windows since Windows 2000.

To configure the server side proceed as described in the section above to enable browsing.

On the Windows computer, go to the printer control panel and choose to 'Add a New Printer'. Next, choose to give a URL. For the URL, type in the location of the printer: http://host_ip_address:631/printers/printer_name (where host_ip_address is the GNU/Linux server's IP address and printer_name is the name of the printer being connected to).

After this, install the native printer drivers for your printer on the Windows computer. If the CUPS server is set up to use its own printer drivers, then you can just select a generic postscript printer for the Windows client(e.g. 'HP Color LaserJet 8500 PS' or 'Xerox DocuTech 135 PS2'). Then test the print setup by printing a test page.

Sharing via Samba

If your client's Windows version is below Windows 2000 or if you experienced troubles with IPP you can also use Samba for sharing. Note of course that with Samba this involves another complex piece of software. This makes this way more difficult to configure and thus sometimes also more error-prone, mostly due do authentication problems.

To configure Samba on the Linux server, edit Template:Filename file to allow access to printers. File Template:Filename can look something like this: Template:File

That should be enough to share the printer, yet adding an individual printer entry may be desirable: Template:File

Please note that this assumes configuration was made so that users must have a valid account to access the printer. To have a public printer, set guest ok to yes, and remove the valid users line. To add accounts, set up a regular GNU/Linux account and then set up a Samba password on the server. For instance:

# useradd yourusername
# smbpasswd -a yourusername

After this, restart Samba daemon:

# /etc/rc.d/samba restart

Obviously, there are a lot of tweaks and customizations that can be done with setting up a Samba print server, so it is advised to look at the Samba and CUPS documentation for more help. The Template:Filename file also has some good samples that might warrant imitating.

Windows server - Linux client

Sharing via IPP

As above IPP is also the preferred protocol for printer sharing. However this way might be a bit more difficult than the native Samba approach below, since you need a greater effort to set up an IPP-Server on Windows. The commonly chosen server software is Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS).

Note: This section is incomplete. Here is a description how to set up ISS, unfortunately in German [1]

Sharing via Samba

A much simpler way is using Window's native printer sharing via Samba. There is almost no configuration needed, and all of it can be done from the CUPS Backend. As above noted, if there are any problems the reason is mostly related to authentication trouble and Windows access restrictions.

On the server side enable sharing for your desired printer and ensure that the user on the client machine has the right to access the printer.

The following section describes how to set up the client, assuming that both daemons (cupsd and smbd) are running.

Configuration using the web interface

The Samba CUPS back-end is enabled by default, if for any reason it is not activate it by entering the following command and restarting CUPS.

# ln -s $(which smbspool) /usr/lib/cups/backend/smb

Next, simply log in on the CUPS web interface and choose to add a new printer. As a device choose "Windows Printer via SAMBA".

For the device location, enter:


Or without a password:


Make sure that the user actually has access to the printer on the Windows computer and select the appropriate drivers. If the computer is located on a domain, make sure the user-name includes the domain:


If the network contains many printers you might want to set a preferred printer. To do so use the web interface, go into the printer tab, choose the desired printer and select 'Set as default' from the drop-down list.

Manual configuration

For manual configuration stop the CUPS daemon and add your printer to Template:Filename, which might for example look like this Template:File

Then restart the CUPS daemon an try to print a test page.

To set the preferred printer use the following command

# lpoptions -d desired_default_printer_name


If there are any problems, the first thing to do is enable debug information by setting

LogLevel debug

in Template:Filename.

Then restart the CUPS daemon and check for error messages in Template:Filename. A convenient way to do so is

# tail -f /var/log/cups/error_log

which keeps printing new error messages as the occur.

Note: You can also use the web interface to browse this error file.

Other operating systems

More information on interfacing CUPS with other printing systems can be found in the CUPS manual, e.g. on http://localhost:631/sam.html#PRINTING_OTHER