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Essential System Administration, 3rd Edition by Æleen Frisch

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Troubleshooting Printers

This section contains strategies and suggestions for approaching various printing problems.

The first step is to narrow down the problem as precisely as possible. Which printers are affected? Are all users affected or just the one with the problem? Once you’ve determined where the problem is, you can set about dealing with it.

If you’ve installed a printer but nothing prints on it, check the following items:

  • Make sure you’re using the right kind of cable. Check the printer’s documentation for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • Make sure the connections are good and that you’ve specified the right port in the configuration file or commands. If you’re using a serial line, make sure the line has been deactivated in /etc/ttytab, /etc/ttys, or /etc/inittab. Signal init to reread its configuration file. Kill the getty process watching that line, if necessary.

  • Verify that its queue is set up correctly. Send a file to it and then make sure something appears in the spool directory (use the -c option on the printing command under System V and AIX). If it doesn’t, the protection on the spooling directories or files may be wrong. In particular, root may own something it shouldn’t.

    On System V systems, the spool directories located under /var/spool/lp/request are usually owned by the user lp and are protected 755 (write access only for the owner) or sometimes 770. The files in the spool directories are owned by group and user lp and are protected 440.

    Under BSD, the spool ...

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