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Chapter 34. Printer Configuration

The Printer Configuration Tool allows users to configure a printer. This tool helps maintain the printer configuration file, print spool directories, and print filters.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 uses the CUPS printing system. If a system was upgraded from a previous Red Hat Enterprise Linux version that used CUPS, the upgrade process preserved the configured queues.

Using the Printer Configuration Tool requires root privileges. To start the application, select Applications (the main menu on the panel) => System Settings => Printing, or type the command system-config-printer. This command automatically determines whether to run the graphical or text-based version depending on whether the command is executed in the graphical desktop environment or from a text-based console.

To force the Printer Configuration Tool to run as a text-based application, execute the command system-config-printer-tui from a shell prompt.


Do not edit the /etc/printcap file or the files in the /etc/cups/ directory. Each time the printer daemon (cups) is started or restarted, new configuration files are dynamically created. The files are dynamically created when changes are applied with the Printer Configuration Tool as well.

Figure 34-1. Printer Configuration Tool

The following types of print queues can be configured:

  • Locally-connected — a printer attached directly to the computer through a parallel or USB port.

  • Networked CUPS (IPP) — a printer that can be accessed over a TCP/IP network via the Internet Printing Protocol, also known as IPP (for example, a printer attached to another Red Hat Enterprise Linux system running CUPS on the network).

  • Networked UNIX (LPD) — a printer attached to a different UNIX system that can be accessed over a TCP/IP network (for example, a printer attached to another Red Hat Enterprise Linux system running LPD on the network).

  • Networked Windows (SMB) — a printer attached to a different system which is sharing a printer over an SMB network (for example, a printer attached to a Microsoft Windows™ machine).

  • Networked Novell (NCP) — a printer attached to a different system which uses Novell's NetWare network technology.

  • Networked JetDirect — a printer connected directly to the network through HP JetDirect instead of to a computer.


If you add a new print queue or modify an existing one, you must apply the changes for them to take effect.

Clicking the Apply button saves any changes that you have made and restarts the printer daemon. The changes are not written to the configuration file until the printer daemon is restarted. Alternatively, you can choose Action => Apply.

34.1. Adding a Local Printer

To add a local printer, such as one attached through a parallel port or USB port on your computer, click the New button in the main Printer Configuration Tool window to display the window in Figure 34-2. Click Forward to proceed.

Figure 34-2. Adding a Printer

In the window shown in Figure 34-3, enter a unique name for the printer in the Name text field. The printer name cannot contain spaces and must begin with a letter. The printer name may contain letters, numbers, dashes (-), and underscores (_). Optionally, enter a short description for the printer, which can contain spaces.

Figure 34-3. Selecting a Queue Name

After clicking Forward, Figure 34-4 appears. Select Locally-connected from the Select a queue type menu, and select the device. The device is usually /dev/lp0 for a parallel printer or /dev/usb/lp0 for a USB printer. If no devices appear in the list, click Rescan devices to rescan the computer or click Custom device to specify it manually. Click Forward to continue.

Figure 34-4. Adding a Local Printer

Next, select the printer type. Refer to Section 34.7 Selecting the Printer Model and Finishing for details.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire