Print-Queue Hell: Keeping the Printers Printing

If you have worked in a large systems environment for very long, you already know how frustrating it can be to keep the printer farm happy. In my contracting days I worked in several shops that consistently had problems with the printers. In most cases, the print queues went down because of network timeouts and extended device waits. In this kind of environment you have two choices: keep answering the calls from the help desk or write a shell script to monitor the printer queues and re-enable the queues as they drop offline.

I prefer the second method. Like every other Systems Administrator, I like to be proactive in my approach to solving the little problems as well as the big ones. The shop I remember the best is a hospital. This hospital has more than 30 satellite clinics around town and only one 100 MB/Sec pipe coming in to the hospital from the outside world. Most of the clinics have between three and five printers, with at least one printer active most of the day. When I came on board, the first problem I encountered was the huge volume of calls to the help desk about printer problems. What caught my eye was the fact that all of the calls came from the clinics, not from inside the hospital. I knew immediately that a shell script was in order! In this chapter we are going to look at two methods of bringing up the print queues, enabling individual queues and bringing up the whole lot. Because UNIX flavors vary on handling ...

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