Sharing Printer

  • Hi

    I recently installed pfSense on a computer (2x933MHz, 512MB of RAM) and it working great.
    I dont have any other server to put the printer to so I thought try to share the printer through the same computer. Is that possible?
    I know it isnt supported I got told so in the offical IRC channel for pfSense. But perhaps somebody else have tried and accomplished it I thought.
    Or maybe someone who feel that he can help.


  • A dual 933 MHz machine as firewall?  Wow!  That's better than any of my servers!

    As for printer sharing I'm sure its possible, but more details first.  What brand/model of printer is it?

    Do you have an ethernet socket on the printer already?

    What client machines would you expect to access the printer?

  • THANKS for the replies so quickly. And Im glad to here you think it might work.
    The printer dont have any ethernet connection. Its only the old way using that printer-port(dunno the real name)
    The printer is a "HP Laserjet 1200"
    The clients would be both *nix(mostly Linux) and Windows XP.

    Thanks. I will have a look on that guide.
    EDIT: It was a really heavy guide, didnt make that much sense to me right away.

    PS. The dual 933MHz is the only server I have and I really needed a router yesterday. So I just googled found pfSense installed it and was happy. :D DS

  • What your are looking for is the LPD part.

  • funny thing is I might be trying this later in the summer, got a new box for pfsense(i'll post some pics & specs later) but it has a couple usb ports which I might do some print-serving off of when I move.

  • Did you ever try this? Or is anyone else likely to try it? I would myself, but my programming and Unix knowledge is next to nothing :-(

  • Almost all new printers now have network support built in. You can grab a network laserjet in the $100 dollar range. A multifunction ink jet in the $200 range and a color laserjet in the $300 range. Plus if you network multifunction devices you only get printer support where as with a network ready multifunction you get full access to all the features.

    For example: HP 1022n Laserjet is $178 at Newegg

    Not sure how much time it is worth adding this support to pfsense. For all the time and effort you put into making it work you could buy a new laserjet which is faster and full of toner and you would come out cheaper. Toner is $80 a pop and if you haven't replaced the toner in your old one then a new printer is technically only $90.

    Plus I would think most pfsense box's are out of sight in the corner or networking closet and not in a central location. Not to mention that your completely dead in the water from a business perspective if your pfsense box dies. Not only do you loose internet, but now you don't have a printer so you can't print the document out and mail it.

    Not trying to discourage you, just giving you a different point of view. I went the network ready printer route at home and my one client a small practice went that route as well. Its easy, low cost, and reliable.

  • I just bought a new Canon Inkjet yesterday so I don't think I'll be going for a network laser anytime soon. Multifunction printers are a waste of money if you don't want the features so I won't be going that route either… I occasionally want to do photos and the like, so a laser isn't such a good idea. I definitely need colour. My throughput also isn't so high that a laser is necessary worth it either. I don't live in the US. Had a quick look and the cheapest ethernet colour laser was $580. Cheapest non-ethernet colour laser was $450. This is compared to my $180 Canon Pixma IP4300 inkjet which is a fairly good printer (quite good quality, has separate tanks albeit chipped, extra pigment for black, does duplex printing and CD/DVDs) and good enough for my needs (don't print that often). BTW, in terms of non-colour, cheapest laser ethernet is Fuji-Xerox 204A for $340. This is compared to a fairly similarly speced (8mb instead of 16mb and possible crappier processor) 203A for $135 (don't know if it's the cheapest or not). Only ethernet inkjet I see is a D7160 HP (i.e. crap :-P) which is $250 and seems the same speced otherwise as the D6160 for $185 (i.e. again your paying quite a lot for the ethernet support). So IMHO, there are quite good reasons why the home user won't want to go with a network printer. I expect most business will either go with a network printer or prefer a separate server but I expect there are a fair number of home users who don't.

    I'm not a business. The printer is (as was my old printer) currently connected to my PVR which is Windows and not on all the time. I currently use a m0n0wall box as my router, but thought (looked into this before actually but never got round to posting) it might be worth it upgrading/changing to pfSense if someone gets printer support working. The m0n0wall is in the best place for the printer since it's near my phoneline (could move it but never bothered) and in a fairly central location. I used to use a Windows box as my router but moved to this. The PVR is near the TV obviously. I personally expect the pfSense is likely to be fairly centrally located for many home users because they can't be bothered moving phone lines and network cables to a more hidden location. Plus if it's near any wireless AP, you probably don't want to stick that in a closet... I expect many also feel more comfortable having it fairly easy to physically access as well.

    N.B. From what I've seen, the vast majority of new printers for home users don't have network support. Only fairly expensive ones do which are not the ones I suspect many home users go for. You also tend to pay more for the cost. In some instances, the printer might also be higher speced, with a higher duty and faster PPM but a lot of home users don't need that so if the quality and running costs are the same, it's just a waste... There probably isn't a great level of urgency, it's not something I would be offering a bounty for, but if someone get's it to work then great. But I expect it would be a feature quite a number of people use even if they don't urgently want it. You do tend to find routers with print servers after all.

  • I bought a HP 2600n Color LaserJet for $340 3 months ago. All the wiring in my house goes into a basment storage room, standard for the builder in all their homes. The house is 7 years old and they ran CAT 5 for the phone lines. I use 2 pairs for ethernet and 1 pair for the phone line.

    But I do see your point.

    Most the all-in-ones are priced cheaper than just printers. For instance HP Photosmart C5180 All-in-One its $190 at most places, even cheaper if you order direct from HP. It has separate ink tanks and is networkable. Not bad in my opinion. Buy I saw that you don't like HP. Haven't looked at other brands as I prefer HP printers where the paper loads from the bottom. I've found with others that top load the thing will take multiple pages through.

    Regardless everybody has their own opinion. I was just giving a difference perspective for those who might not of thought of it.

  • @Nil:

    that often). BTW, in terms of non-colour, cheapest laser ethernet is Fuji-Xerox 204A for $340. This is compared to a fairly similarly speced (8mb instead of 16mb and possible crappier processor) 203A for $135 (don't know if it's the cheapest or not). Only ethernet inkjet I see is a D7160 HP (i.e. crap :-P) which is $250 and seems the

    Hmm…not sure where you live that stuff is so expensive.  I'm in Illinois (USA), and picked up a Brother Laser printer (HL-2070N) for $89 a few months back.  Sure it's not a Xerox, but it was about the same price as the toner for my HP LJ4 which was out and in the ballbark of the cost for a network print sharing device that would have been useless to me when I decided to finally ditch the HP.  I still need a solution for my photo printer, but at this point I'm likely to buy another one as I haven't used this one in long enough that I'm gonna have to replace all the cartridges - it also has no parallel port, it's USB.  Now in theory it should show up as a parallel device that's USB attached, in practice, FreeBSD didn't see it as anything but a generic USB device.  Needless to say, I wasn't able to get LPR to print to it.  That was the end of my foray into creating an LPD package for pfSense, it just wasn't worth it.  CUPS would be the better route, but again, if FreeBSD doesn't see the printer, you're SOL.


  • My printer loads from the bottom. It has a tray that's covered. It can also load from the top so if using special paper you don't have to pull out the other paper.

    You're probably right, that some multifunction printer may be cheaper then some inkjets. But I'm doubtful that a comparable quality multifunction printer would be cheaper. For example, the Canon PIXMA MP600 which seems to be comparable in specs to my printer is $360 (and doesn't have ethernet). It's just the nature of the business. No one is going to sell a multifunction printer of comparable specs to their normal printers for a lower price. Either they won't bother to make the normal printer or they'll make the normal printer cheaper.

    But you have a point, some people would be better of going for a network printer.

  • Forgot about this topic. I tested pfSense developer version (I think 1.0.1) and I couldn't get it to detect my printer or load the ulpt driver. However my printer worked fine the the version of FreeBSD I tested (6.1 and I think I also tested an older version). So I presume that the ulpt driver has been partially disabled in the standard pfSense kernel (which makes sense since it's unneeded). Therefore re-enabling support is probably going to require a kernel recompile and won't be easy.

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