Usability Archives

August 17, 2005

How to restart a printer

Despite being an xterm addict for much of what I do, I occasionally try to use the graphical user interface on my machine -- I'm running GNOME for that purpose.

So, yesterday, my print server (as in, that Jetdirect box from ebay that sits next to the printer) had decided to shut down a connection, and the print server software on my computer (cups) had decided to consider the printer stopped, but hadn't bothered to alert me of that fact.

I wanted to print something this morning. Nothing happens, nothing at all. I get myself a command line, type "lpq". The printer is stopped. So, how do I restart it?

First thing (and not very obvious unless you know your system): Take a web browser, connect to the local print server's built-in web-based administration interface. "Not authorized." Umh. That must be new with Fedora Core 4.

Next thing, search for that cool GUI tool -- there ought to be one, after all, this is one of the supposedly non-scary Linux distributions. The system-level printer configuration tool, unfortunately, has no interface for starting or stopping printers. The user-level print job monitoring tool -- while running somewhere in the background -- doesn't bother with jobs on stopped printers.

Back to the command line, then. CUPS' version of lpc doesn't have the traditional restart command, but at least, there's that thing called "cupsenable." "cupsenable" asks for my password. And again. And again. Aha. Maybe that's this program's way to tell me that I'm not authorized. I get myself a root shell and call cupsenable. Finally, the printer starts spitting out paper.

Now, imagine I had given a Linux box to my mother, her printer had a temporary failure, and she was supposed to print something... Fortunately, my mother has a Mac.

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