Comparison of Printing Systems

See PrintingProblems for an analysis of xhier Lpr and CUPS.

Conventions within this Document

A print system will be a software tool that is able to directly send printable data to a printer, that is, it can communicate with the printer. It can also alter the print data generated by user run applications prior to sending it to the printer. CUPS, LPR and Xprint are explicit examples. These instances of print systems also have the ability to forward jobs to another print system.

IPP printing

IPP, or internet printing protocol, is being implemented in the open source world by Easy Software Products and is known as CUPS, or common unix printing.

It is an example of a print spooler, that is, it places jobs into a queue which then are sent to the printer as other jobs are completed. This has the advantage of allowing clients to send jobs and not have to wait until printer becomes available, thus permitting clients to perform other tasks while the print job gets processed by the spooler. The disadvantage is that users feel as though they are sending data into a bottomless pit to never be seen again, especially if they go to the printer expecting to see their job printed.


A technology that is being phased out as evidenced by Linux distributions which are using CUPS and Macs which also use CUPS. Moreover the various implementations of Lpr seem to be inactive further signifying that this is an old technology.


If one goes to the Xprint home page we are told that

      Xprint is an advanced printing system which enables X11 applications to use
      devices like printers, FAX or create documents in formats like PostScript, PDF,
      PCL, etc.
So it's _application program interface, or API for X11 applications to create printable data. In particular there is an implication in the above sentence that data can be sent directly to a printer and consequently Xprint is a print system. At the aformentioned site, there is an FAQ entry that answers the question: what are the advantages of xprint?.

There is a brief discussion of Xprint's advantages, in particular, the usage of Type 1 fonts when rendering graphical display data is touted, see Gentoo documentation.

Xprint is configured to make use of print spooling systems and will try to use CUPS if it exists.


As an initial introduction, the Samba development team aswers the question: What is Samba? In a nutshell is permits clients not running Windows to pretend they are Windows file and print server. Clearly this is a plus in any environment which has Windows and Unix hosts. Indeed, this is the primary motivation for the development of Samba.

Printing from windows proceeds by forwarding jobs to a samba server which then runs the lpr command and forwards the data to our main LPD server, print.cs.

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Topic revision: r3 - 2006-08-31 - WalterTautz
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