Does Linux Really Have No Printer Interfac?

Michael Sweet mike at
Tue Jul 20 04:02:33 PDT 2004

jenninju at wrote:
> OK. There is an elephant in the room. If I understand things
> correctly, setting up a printer in linux, whether via CUPS, LPR, or
> whatever, means you have an OS printer.
> And that is all you have.
> If you want to actually do some work, you have to configure each and
> every individual application, which in some cases is hard and other
> cases is easy.
> With Windows, all of your apps can find the printers you set up with
> the OS.
> What am I missing?

OK, when using CUPS you get the printer drivers which are always
in the loop - applications which normally produce PostScript will
now work with every printer without requiring extensive configuration
at the print spooler level.

However, most applications are not what we call "CUPS aware".  They
just use CUPS in its compatibility mode (lp or lpr, take your pick)
and don't try to do anything fancy.

This is changing, slowly, and you'll find that all KDE applications
provide a print dialog that allows you to change printer-specific
settings (duplexing, page size, and so forth, all coming from the
PPD file for the printer) for each print job.  If you configure an
application to use the "kprinter" program to submit a job instead
of "lp" or "lpr", then those applications will have access to the
same features.

Some applications understand PPD files but do not yet have a CUPS
interface.  OpenOffice is like this, and you need only configure
OpenOffice once to use a printer's PPD file to be able to access
the device features from the OpenOffice print dialog.  I believe
the OpenOffice folks are working on a CUPS interface, so that
even this step is automated.

So, in short, most applications will work out of the box with CUPS.
Some provide printer-specific options panels, some don't.  You can
make small (system-wide) changes to many applications to use the
KDE print panel (kprinter) to allow them to use CUPS and the printer

Michael Sweet, Easy Software Products           mike at easysw dot com
Printing Software for UNIX             

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