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Overhauled CUPS: Improved Unix Printing

Web Interface

  • July 20, 2006
  • By Carla Schroder

CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) version 1.2 was released last month, bursting with over 90 fabulous new features and improvements. Today we'll take a look at them and decide how fabulous they really are. Then for dessert, next week we'll dig into using CUPS as a printer server on mixed Linux/Windows/Macintosh LANs.

Finally, after all these years the CUPS Web interface has gotten a much-needed overhaul. Now you can do server administration, unlike the olden days when all it could do was manage local printers. Server administration meant digging into cupsd.conf, which of course is no big deal for gnarly system administrators. But it is nice to have both.

Some of the new tasks that you can do in the Web interface are edit cupsd.conf, export printers to Samba, configure sharing, view log files, cancel all jobs on a printer, move all jobs on all printers, and move jobs to a different printer. Users can cancel or move their own print jobs on their own local printers; on remote printers, no such luck. Printers can be shared or un-shared individually; this used to be all-or-none. If your printer driver supports cleaning print heads, now you can do this from the CUPS Web. (Perhaps someday an ink level monitor will be incorporated as well.)

Figure 1.
(Click for a larger image)

Installing locally-attached printers is a bit easier because CUPS' auto-detection is improved. The downside is you don't get to choose your own printer name, so you get stuck with something clunky like "hp_par_HP_LaserJet_6L." (Figure 1.)

And there are still way too many drivers to wade through. The good news is you can easily try out different drivers until you find the best one. If the Gutenprint drivers are available in your distribution, be sure to install them because they are excellent.

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