Archive for the ‘Networks’ Category

Network printing

October 14, 2006

Somewhat off-topic, but one of the issues going on here.

I have 3 Epson printers here. I’ve spent about $100 on ink for them, and none of them will work. I’ve since found out that Epson printers are so bad there’s a class action lawsuit. Meanwhile, we needed something more than the Canon photo printer that’s left. So I figured I’d get (1) a laser printer and (2) a wireless print server so we can all use the same printer. Staples had a great deal on a Samsung laser printer, and a Netgear wireless print server on sale as well. Together they cost about what I’d spend on Epson ink in a year.

We’ve got a Linksys wireless network, with an iMac connected by ethernet (doesn’t have a wireless card in it) and a Windows machine connected wirelessly. There’s also an Apple Powerbook and an Apple G3 without wireless cards. Both have OS X and Linux on them, but only the laptop, being portable, can be connected to the router, via ethernet.

The print server has extra ethernet ports so computers like the Apple G3 can get a wireless connection through the print server. Seemed like a good idea to me: set up the printer and print server where the Apple G3 is and get networked printing with a bonus wireless connection for one of the Apples. The Samsung has drivers for Windows, OS X, and Linux. The Netgear print server only has a Windows setup option. Of course, once it’s set up, it doesn’t matter where it’s connected.

I almost succeeded in getting the Netgear print server set up on my own. I ended up spending about 4 hours on the phone with tech support before we figured out what the problem was: the MAC address listed on the back of the box is for the ethernet connection. The wireless MAC address is different, and can only be found by accessing the print server after it’s set up. Once that was cleared up, the networks talked nicely to each other (I have restrictions on the wireless network by MAC address, as well as WPA).

Next was getting the Apple G3 connected. No problem there, except that, even though the computer had a wired connection to the print server, and had the Samsung drivers installed, it couldn’t find the printer. I found instructions at Netgear for connecting on Apple OSX version 10.4 (Tiger), and got the iMac printing, but the other two Apples are running OSX version 10.3, and the printer setup is different. I booted the notebook into Linux, popped in the Samsung CD, and started the “Autorun” I found on it. It installed all the drivers and asked if I wanted to set up a printer. So I went through its setup wizard, which was easier than the Mac setup, and printed a test page! (Cheers for Samsung!)

I’ll get the printer set up in Linux on the other Apple. I’m not sure I want to take the time any more to get it working on the older Apple OS. Samsung made it so easy on Linux, but Netgear can barely accommodate one Mac OS version, much less Linux. So kudos for Samsung, and black marks for Netgear! If you’re looking for a print server for a mixed network like mine, you should probably investigate other brands, even if Netgear does have a better price. And if you’re looking for a basic laser printer, you should definitely look at Samsung.

Update (Sept.9, 2007):

After almost a year with the setup, the biggest problem has been the Netgear device arbitrarily deciding when to accept connections. It seems almost random. Print jobs will fail to go through (and sit in a queue on the computer). I try connecting directly to the Netgear device, but when it’s “down” it doesn’t respond to anything, even from the computer that is connected via an ethernet cable. But then a new print job will go through successfully and everything works fine (including printing the backed up print jobs), for a few days, anyway. Then it’s back to trying to figure out a way to wake up the printserver.