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openSUSE 11.1 Reference Guide
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9.1 The Workflow of the Printing System

The user creates a print job. The print job consists of the data to print plus information for the spooler, such as the name of the printer or the name of the printer queue, and, optionally, information for the filter, such as printer-specific options.

At least one dedicated printer queue exists for every printer. The spooler holds the print job in the queue until the desired printer is ready to receive data. When the printer is ready, the spooler sends the data through the filter and back-end to the printer.

The filter converts the data generated by the application that is printing (usually PostScript or PDF, but also ASCII, JPEG, etc.) into printer-specific data (PostScript, PCL, ESC/P, etc.). The features of the printer are described in the PPD files. A PPD file contains printer-specific options with the parameters needed to enable them on the printer. The filter system makes sure that options selected by the user are enabled.

If you use a PostScript printer, the filter system converts the data into printer-specific PostScript. This does not require a printer driver. If you use a non-PostScript printer, the filter system converts the data into printer-specific data. This requires a printer driver suitable for your printer. The back-end receives the printer-specific data from the filter then passes it to the printer.

openSUSE 11.1 Reference Guide
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