Printing Facilities - How to Submit and Remove Print Jobs


The printing services within the School are provided by the Common Unix Printing System (CUPS). CUPS accepts wide variety of file types as input and will handle all the necessary filtering on the server side. Common file types that can be directly submitted to CUPS include:

  • Plain Text (e.g. .txt, .java, .c, .html)
  • Postscript
  • Portable Document Format (PDF)
  • DVI
  • Image Files (GIF and JPEG)

More information about the file types that can be processed by CUPS can be found in the CUPS User Documentation.

Note:- If you prefer to manually run a filter, you can still run the filter command on your input file and pipe the postscript to CUPS.

Note:- The server side filters may be unable to process complex PDF documents. If users experience problems submitting PDF files directly to CUPS, we recommend printing the file through acroread.

Command Line Printing

CUPS will accept print jobs submitted with the BSD lpr or System V lp commands. More information about these commands can be found by reading the Linux man pages and the CUPS User Documentation.

Submitting Print Jobs Using lpr

The most common method of sending a file to a printer is by use of the lpr command. This command is supported under the Solaris, Linux and operating systems.

The lpr command has the following format:

	lpr -P<printer>

Where <printer> is one of the printer names listed above, there should be no space between the -P and the printer name.

Submitting Print Jobs Using the Solaris lp command

In addition to the lpr command, machines running Solaris Operating Systems also have the lp command. This command, shown below, provides additional printer options allowing access to other facitilites such as double sided printing etc.

	lp -d <printer> -o <option>

For example the command

	lp -d blake -o sides=single-sided

will print on printer blake in single-sided mode.

A list of available lp options can be found in the CUPS User Documentation.

Viewing the Print Queue and Removing Jobs

To view the printer queue use the command:

	lpq -P<printer>

To remove a job from the printer queue use the command:

	lprm -P<printer> <jobid>

Where jobid is the number of the print job as shown by lpq. For example the command

	lprm -Ppicasso 37

will remove job 37 from the queue for the printer picasso.

In some instances the Solaris version of lprm fails to remove jobs from a print queue. If this happens use the command:

	cancel <printer>-<jobid>

in its place. For example the command:

	cancel picasso

will perform the same task as the above lprm command.

Printing On Different Media Types

Under both Windows and Linux, printing to different media is achieved by specifying the media type when submitting a job. For example, selecting the media type 'Transparency' will print to transparencies if the printer has transparencies in one of its input trays.

Note:A printer will prompt for manual insertion of media if the media type specified is not held within the printer.

Most of the printers in the School only contain plain A4 paper. Attempting to print on any other type of media will result in the printer requesting manual intervention. This problem is often encountered when printing documents that have been produced in US paper formats such as letter or legal.

Some of the staff printers contain a number of different media types e.g. A4 paper, A3 paper and A4 transparencies. Specifying media when printing from Windows or the Linux xlp utility simply involves selecting the media type from a menu. When the lp command is used, the media type must be passed as a command line option.

e.g. lp -drenoir -omedia=Transparency (prints the file on transparencies)

Using a Graphical Interface to Submit Print Jobs (xlp)

A graphical version of the lp command is available under Linux and Solaris which provides an interface to the printing system that is similar to Windows. The xlp command is used in the exactly same way as lp i.e., on the command line type:

        xlp -d<printer> <file-to-print>

Executing this command will display a dialog box from which you can specify how your file will be printed (as show below).

Printing options that can be set from this dialog box include:

  • The number of copies to be printed
  • The pages to include in the print out
  • From the Properties... section
    • Printing multiple pages on one sheet of paper
    • Duplex printing (if supported by the printer)
    • Page margin sizes
    • Other advanced or printer specific options

Note:- xlp will refuse to submit a print job if you have selected a combination of print options that are conflicting or not supported by the printer e.g. trying to print duplex on a printer without a duplex tray.

xlp reads input from STDIN if an input file is not supplied. This means xlp can be used as the print command in applications such as Netscape, Acroread, etc...

There is a Save option under the Properties... section which saves your current printer configurations. The options are saved in the file ~/.lpoptions which is loaded each time xlp is invoked.