CUPS/Printer sharing

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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.

You will need avahi-daemon running, before you restart cupsd.

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 cups.conf 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 /etc/cups/cupsd.conf 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" make sure you have the Browsing directive enabled:

Browsing On

After making modifications, restart CUPS.

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


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>

Using a CUPS 1.6.x client with a <= 1.5.x server

As of CUPS version 1.6, the client defaults to IPP 2.0. If the server uses CUPS <= 1.5 / IPP <= 1.1, the client doesn't downgrade the protocol automatically and thus can't communicate with the server. A workaround (undocumented as of 2013-05-07, but see this bug report) is to put the following in /etc/cups/client.conf:

ServerName HOSTNAME-OR-IP-ADDRESS[:PORT]/version=1.1

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:


(where host_ip_address is the GNU/Linux server's IP address and printer_name is the name of the printer being connected to, you can also use the server's fully qualified domain name, if it has one, but you may need to set ServerAlias my_fully_qualified_domain_name in cupsd.conf for this to work).

Note: The add printer dialog in windows is quite sensitive to the path to the printer, the dialogue box itself suggests:

which will work in a web-browser but not in the add printer dialogue. (At least, not when using cups as an ipp server). The syntax suggested above:

will work.

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 /etc/samba/smb.conf file to allow access to printers. File smb.conf can look something like this:

server string=Arch Linux Print Server

    comment=All Printers
    # to allow user 'guest account' to print.
    guest ok=no
    create mode=0700
    write list=@adm root yourusername

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

    comment=Samsung ML-1250 Laser Printer
    printer admin=@admin root yourusername
    user client driver=yes
    # to allow user 'guest account' to print.
    guest ok=no
    write list=@adm root yourusername
    valid users=@adm root yourusername

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 the Samba daemon.

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 smb.conf.example file also has some good samples that might warrant imitating.

Windows server - Linux client

Sharing via LPD

Windows 7 has a built-in LPD server - using it will probably be the easiest approach as it does neither require an installation of Samba on the client nor heavy configuration on the server. It can be activated in the Control Panel under Programs -> Activate Windows functions in the section Print services. The printer must have shared activated in its properties. Use a share name without any special characters like spaces, commas, etc.

Then the printer can be added in CUPS, choosing LPD protocol. The printer address will look like this:

# lpd://windowspc/printersharename

Before adding the printer, you will most likely have to install an appropriate printer driver depending on your printer model. Generic PostScript or RAW drivers might also work.

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 in Windows XP and Windows 2000, 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 /etc/cups/printers.conf, which might for example look like this

<DefaultPrinter MyPrinter>
AuthInfoRequired username,password
Info My printer via SAMBA
Location In my Office
MakeModel Samsung ML-1250 - CUPS+Gutenprint v5.2.7        # <= use 'lpinfo -m' to list available models
DeviceURI smb://username:password@hostname/printer_name   # <= server URI as described in previous section
State Idle
Type 4
Accepting Yes
Shared No
JobSheets none none
QuotaPeriod 0
PageLimit 0
KLimit 0
AllowUser yourusername                                    # <= do not forget to change this
OpPolicy default
ErrorPolicy stop-printer

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 /etc/cups/cupsd.conf.

Then restart the CUPS daemon and check for error messages in /var/log/cups/error_log. A convenient way to do so is

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

which keeps printing new error messages as they occur.

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

Can't print with GTK applications

If you get "getting printer information failed" when you try to print from gtk-applications, add this line to your /etc/hosts:

 # serverip 	ServersHostname

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