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Windows Server 2000/2003 Thread, "Semi-networked" printer - possible? in Technical; Hi, We have a few network printers (with their own Cat5 connections). At the moment, clients connect to them using ...
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    Question "Semi-networked" printer - possible?

    Hi,

    We have a few network printers (with their own Cat5 connections). At the moment, clients connect to them using a mixture of two methods:

    1. Some clients have the printers' IP addresses hard-coded into the driver configuration screens. This isn't ideal because if the IP address ever changes, I will have to update every single client.

    2. Some clients print via the curriculum server, which makes the printer available as a share. This isn't ideal because it needlessly sends a large volume of data through the server, and the printer is unavailable if the server is down.

    Is there a solution? The closest thing I could think of would be a setup whereby clients ask the server what the printer's IP address is (and perhaps cache this value for robustness again server down-time)?

    Perhaps even a login script, pulled from the server, would do. We use EISnet, if that's any help.

    One added complication is that one of the printers is key-coded and each teacher has a different PIN which must be entered on the printer properties page. That said, the PIN is mainly used to monitor photocopying, and I don't think anybody would notice if all the computers just used a "computer printouts" PIN.

    Thoughts?

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    flyinghaggis's Avatar
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    We virtualised ours in Hyper-V which has worked out pretty well to minimise downtime and maintain high availability.

    Is there a particular reason you're finding your print sever is often down by the way? Dodgy drivers/print jobs?
    Last edited by flyinghaggis; 18th August 2010 at 11:11 AM.

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    will_ (18th August 2010)

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    jamesreedersmith's Avatar
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    what about giving the printers static IP's either direct in the printer settings or by using dhcp reservations? then the ip of he printer will never change?

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    will_ (18th August 2010)

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    Quote Originally Posted by flyinghaggis View Post
    We virtualised ours in Hyper-V which has worked out pretty well to minimise downtime and reduce any chance of it going offline. Is there a particular reason you're finding your print sever is often down by the way? Dodgy drivers/print jobs?
    Thanks for the suggestion.

    We're a medium-sized primary school and just have "the server" - there is no print server, file server, etc. It's not "often" down (very rarely, in fact - last time was a hardware failure); it's just that I'm a full time teacher and we don't have a techie, so I'd like to minimise the amount of disruption it causes when things do break. I'd also like to avoid sending huge amounts of data into the server and back out again.

    I'm a bit wary of virtualisation on the server after I tried installing VirtualBox (for using FOG) - within a few hours the server would crash (completely - power cycle to resolve). That said, it was pointed out to me since that hardware virtualisation is disabled in the BIOS and enabling it would probably resolve this. Virtualising the print server still wouldn't address the wasted network bandwidth, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesreedersmith View Post
    what about giving the printers static IP's either direct in the printer settings or by using dhcp reservations? then the ip of he printer will never change?
    Thanks. We already do that, and to be honest, we'll probably just stick with such a setup.

    I was thinking of a time when we had to change one of the IP addresses manually, although admittedly this has only happened once and even then it was because we were re-organising our IP space (it was a mess!).

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    I've never tried using CNAMEs for printers, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work.

    In DNS, create a CNAME of PrinterName and point it to the IP of the printer. Get clients to connect to the CNAME you just created instead of IP. Then if you need to change the printer IP, just edit the CNAME.

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    will_ (18th August 2010)

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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    I've never tried using CNAMEs for printers, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work.
    Now that's not a bad idea. Just as I had originally hoped, the client would ask the server where to find the printer but then talk directly to the printer.

    The printer I'm testing on has its IP address allocated statically so I've created an A-record instead of a CNAME. I haven't tried modifying any clients yet (I'm at home at the moment) but accessing the printer's web server by name via the VPN works. The only hurdle that remains is seeing whether Windows (XP for most clients) will allow a name rather than an IP address in the printer port. This will probably have to wait for another day.

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    Definitely add the name of the printer to the DNS - you then configure your computers to print to myprintername.sch.uk rather than 192.168.1.25

    If you do need to change IP on the printer then you just change the DNS settings and restart the PC (or ipconfig /flushdns but "turn it off and on again" is much easier to explain!)

    In a one server setup it's hard to get resilience but I would have thought that if the fileserver was down then you probably don't have much to print (or are people storing all their stuff locally??)

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    will_ (18th August 2010)

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    flyinghaggis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will_ View Post
    Virtualising the print server still wouldn't address the wasted network bandwidth, though.
    I wouldn't really worry about print jobs using up network bandwidth to be honest. That's what the network's there for! More important to have queue's on a central server. Problem with local client queues is that you have no central control over print settings/drivers and no auditing control over what users are printing. Unless you have no other option (ie dodgy unsigned drivers/etc) I'd shy away from ever using local print queues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by srochford View Post
    Definitely add the name of the printer to the DNS - you then configure your computers to print to myprintername.sch.uk rather than 192.168.1.25
    Yeah, it seems so obvious now but I'd never considered it before.

    Quote Originally Posted by srochford View Post
    In a one server setup it's hard to get resilience but I would have thought that if the fileserver was down then you probably don't have much to print (or are people storing all their stuff locally??)
    There have been occasions when pupils have logged in, done their work, then the file server died before they were able to save or print. Plus most teachers have their planning on their laptops.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flyinghaggis View Post
    Problem with local client queues is that you have no central control over print settings/drivers and no auditing control over what users are printing.
    Hmm, that's a point. The network printer we have already have has its own web interface, 1GB RAM and 20GB HD (it's one of those huge photocopier / fax things), so print queues are managed with the device itself.

    The one I'm hoping we'll soon buy is an HP LaserJet Enterprise P3015x, which comes with 128MB RAM and JetDirect. Does anybody know, roughly, what 128MB RAM will hold in terms of, say, 1-page Word documents of mixed text/graphics?

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