To CUPS or not to CUPS

Steve Bougerolle steveb at
Tue Jul 1 21:19:58 PDT 2003

On Wed, 2003-07-02 at 10:05, Craig Colton wrote:
> > I think the problem you have is the fact that the best hint to
> > assure a working printing configuration on Linux is one that is
> > anti-Cups.

I disagree entirely.  CUPS is not THAT hard to make work, and once you
have it working it will save you from lots of other pitfalls.

> > Untill then, the general consensus is that the Printing Minority Report
> > (despite it's anti-CUPS'ness, in some casess /because/ ;)) is the best
> > solution to getting started with a working printer configuration.

What general consensus?  I've mostly kept quiet on the matter because I
consider it to be silly, but that doesn't mean I agree with the
anti-CUPS people - and I don't.  I expect lots of other lurkers also
disagree and just couldn't be bothered to say so, like me.

To state my position bluntly: CUPS is a HUGE improvement over past
printing systems despite its admitted bugs, and it would be much better
if people got on board and did the little bit of work to make CUPS
function instead of going their own way and making a zillion more
homebrew printing projects. I'm not really against the minority report,
despite that view - I just see it as an experimental learning sort of
thing, not a serious printing answer.

> > > Sorry to be so adamant.

Then don't be! :)

> Your schematic for getting printing up and running on LFS could work - even 
> with cups. How about this: 
> 1. A user decides beforehand if he will be using cups.
> 2. If so, he installs:
> 		a.Cups
> 		b.espgs (this version of ghostscript is mandatory for cups but would 
> presumably work for PMR)

To nit-pick, that is the preferred version of ghostscript IF you want to
use ghostscript with CUPS at all.  I have a few print servers connected
to native Postscript printers (between myself and my clients, that is)
without ghostscript being installed at all.

>		c.Gimp-Print, hpijs or other driver packages.

Likewise there are lots of people who could use cups well but not need
these graphic drivers at all.  And if we're going to be REALLY honest,
the best hint to ensure a working printer configuration on Linux is to
buy a printer that's easy to configure (which in my experience puts
Lexmark laser printers first and HP inkjets second) :(.

> Since Cups runs as a deamon process, until we switch him on with 
> /usr/sbin/cupsd, presumably he'll sit there like a good boy while all the 
> other printing requirements are checked and tested.
> A user might prefer to use cups if:
> 1. He has networked printers.
> 2. He has used it in his base distro - and likes it.
> 3. He would like to see and use his all of his printer's features from a gui.
> 4. He will be installing a full desktop and would like to integrate printing.
> 5. He has specific printing needs related to graphics. 
> A humble offering from an interested party.

The rest of the plan sounds good, but presumably you are offering this
as an alternative to the printing minority report, and that introduces a
new problem:  The CUPS routine above is not likely to go out of date
soon - that is, despite software updates you can probably still set it
up following the same steps a couple years from now.  If you try to set
up your own more direct printing system you will get hit in the face by
every software update and the install hint will go out of date in

Steve Bougerolle <steveb at>
Creek & Cowley Consulting

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