To CUPS or not to CUPS

Steve Bougerolle steveb at
Tue Jul 1 21:37:41 PDT 2003

Jeroen Coumans wrote:
> > Actually, that's not a sidenote but the main issue with most problems on 
> > this list with cups & printing. It's why I think it's justified to start 
> > with Declan's hint and then proceed to cups hints. The name of the hint 
> > should probably be "Printing from scratch" to properly reflect it's 
> > contents; it also reveals why this hint is no threat to Cups but rather 
> > a (for LFS'ers) mandatory learning chapter _before_ Cups.

Well said.  

However, I don't think it's practical to expect people to do the
bare-bones way first:

> > The learning steps for printing (the LFS way) are this:
> > 1. install the drivers (kernel)
> >     -> check if it works (echo > /dev/lp0)

If I try this with either of my printers they will hang and possibly I
will have to reset the line.  This happen because both of them are
(despite the claims of their manufacturers)  expecting to receive
formatted print commands and not bare text, and that will be true for a
lot of printers.  At least, what you echo to the printer will change
depending on which printer it is.

It's a nice idea anyway, but I think it needs a better way to check the
basic connection.

> > 2. install the convertors (a2ps, ghostscript, etc)
> >     -> check if it works ({gs -options | a2ps -options} > /dev/lp0)

These conversion utilities are really independent of the underlying
print system.  CUPS does not require them and they do not require CUPS
(and likewise for LPRng or LPR or whatever). They're all postscript
related stuff and when all is said and done, Postscript is just a
formatting language.  You can ignore the Postscript issue entirely when
setting up the basic print system - and to save confusion it is probably
a good idea to do so, although it does limit the sort of tests you can
do for step 1.

A simple example: if you run a dot-matrix printer (about the simplest
possible example) then you never even need to think about Postscript at
all.  There are real users out there in exactly that situation -
businesses that have to deal with carbon-copy forms, for example.

The converter PACKAGES may have software to interface with your print
system - and for that reason I install them after CUPS.

> > 3. install the daemon (cups, LPRNG, dumb lpr script)
> >     -> check if it works (lp -options)

On Wed, 2003-07-02 at 01:24, James Robertson wrote:

> One small problem.  Not everyone has a locally attached printer.  Step 1 
> and 2 would never get a network printing process going.  Step 3 would 
> and so can CUPS.

A good point.  I think in practice network printing is different enough
to warrant a separate set of instructions, and then step 1 should be
replaced with "test network connection - find URI for network printer". 

Steve Bougerolle <steveb at>
Creek & Cowley Consulting

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