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The YaST Printer module is part of YaST used for the printer installation and configuration in openSUSE and SuSE Linux. It is popular for its usable and attractive interface and the capability to quickly customize your printers during or after installation.
If you don't have a graphical interface installed on your machine don't worry, you can also use YaST in text mode and configure the same features.
The following are the steps taken when printing:
- First, data is put into a queue for processing
- The data is retrieved by the print spooler.
- The print spooler transfers the data to the print filter.
- The print filter determines the format of the data being sent.
- Data is in PostScript, and continues for processing.
- The print data, once sent, is deleted from the queue.
It should be noted that most printers are capable of printing ASCII text directly. Those devices unable of printing ASCII directly should be capable of printing PostScript or another standard language understood by Ghostscript. However, PostScript is the established universal printing language of Linux. Unfortunately, true PostScript printers tend to be more expensive, due to licensing costs.
CUPS is the Common Unix Printing System. While older systems like LPRng and lpdfilter may still be used, CUPS is a standard and the most used, and the system configured by the YaST Printer module. Since LPRng and lpdfilter conflict with CUPS, the two printing systems will not be used at the same time.
It is recommended that CUPS is chosen as your printing system, since this article, and most others, will focus on this system.
With CUPS, users are able to set certain options for each print job, as opposed to having to set a configuration for a print queue. This allows for greater flexibity, user control, and minimal root (System Administrator) involvement. Printer information and options are stored in individual PostScript Printer Description (PPD) files. These files are what you, as user or root user, will be dealing with.
Requirements for Printing
- If you have not yet purchased a printer, please check the following resources before you do!
- SuSE Printer Database
- http://en.opensuse.org/HCL/Printers Reports from SUSE users on real life experience with printers
- The linuxprinting.org Printer Database
- SUSE LINUX Ghostscript Driver List - Located in your linux installation at: /usr/share/doc/packages/ghostscript/catalog.devices
- Please check that your printer has been properly connected to your computer, and that it is powered on.
- The Minimum Install does not include the necessary system for printing. Please ensure that CUPS and the rest of the printing system is installed using the YaST Software Management module.
Many people will gloss over some areas such as printer naming, but it is actually of significant importance. Many people no longer have just a plain B&W printer, they are using color inkjet printers, with a variety of configurable color options. While CUPS users can choose their print configuration at print time, it is extremely handy to create seperate queues for the same printer.
For example, you may have a 6-ink printer that you use for word processing, simple graphics, and also for photo printing. While you definitely can set up a single queue, and configure your options each time you print, I find it much easier to create a queue for B&W, color, and high-res color prints. You may even wish to get more specific - its up to you. It is recommended that you have an idea of the queues you wish to create before moving on. Don't worry, however, if you just want to get something installed and working - you can always change your configuration later.
Adding and Configuring a Printer
Since openSUSE 11.1 the YaST printer module was made completely anew, see YaST/Development/Printer_Enhancement
At YaST/Development/Printer_Enhancement see in particular the sections "Basic Design Ideas" and "Basic Implementation Principles".
The following describes the old YaST printer module up to openSUSE 11.0. Nevertheless the general information is still true:
Some printers are detected automatically. If your printer has been detected by SuSEplugger, you will not need to start YaST. You will be asked for the root password, and your printer will be configured automatically.
When the YaST Printer module first loads, you will be at the Printer Configuration screen. This screen shows you the print queue name, the device associated, the printer model, and if this queue is the default.
Click Add to add a new print queue. You will be asked if you want to configure a new queue - click Yes.
Name and Basic Settings
When you double-click or click Edit while Name and Basic Settings is highlighted, you are brought to the Queue Name and Spooler Settings. Here you will assign a name for the print queue, a printer description, and a printer location.
- Short & specific
- Contain only letters and numbers, starting with a letter
- The name should identify the queue type; ie: Printer name + B&W, Color, or Photo.
It is recommended that you name your queues this way to ensure compatibility. While you, on your own network, may only be using SuSE Linux for your servers & desktops, you may occasionally want someone else who uses another operating system to print using your printers.
- Printer description
- Be detailed
- Note specifically which printer, make & model, is being used.
- Note specifically which type of prints this queue has been created for.
While the description is unnecessary, it can be very useful to you later, as well as to other users on your computer or network.
- Printer Location
- If its sitting next to you, don't worry about it.
- If this printer is on a small network, you may wish to note which room it is located in.
- If this printer is on a large network, you should note the building, floor, room number, and location in the room. You may think you'll remember where it is now, but you won't. There also may come a time when someone else has to deal with it, and you don't want the phone call.
Local Filtering should be used when your computer is printing locally to the printer, or making use of a print server that does not do any filtering, such as SMB and IPX servers, network printers, and standalone print servers. If you are using a print server that does filtering, such as IPP and LPD servers, uncheck the Local Filtering checkbox.
If your printer was not detected, or incorrectly detected, this is where you will set which PPD file you wish to use for your printer. Its very straightforward, choose your manufacturer on the left, and the model on the right. Alternatively, you can browse by the PPD file to be use by clicking on Select PPD File. If it isn't listed... you checked for compatibility first, right?
If your printer is compatible, and yet, not listed, then you will need to add the PPD.
- If you have this file locally, click on Add PPD File to Database, and then Local PPD File. A new screen will appear where you can browse for the PPD file, which you may have on your printer manufacturer's CD, or that you have downloaded from a web site.
- If you have a url you can download the PPD file from, click on Add PPD File to Database, and then Download a PPD File. Again, a new screen will appear. Enter the URL, as well as the username and password (if appropriate), and click Next to proceed with the download.
Under Connection, you can set the URI for the printer. URI stands for Uniform Resource Identifier, which is similar to a URL. The URI specifies the protocol and location of the printer. If you have modified your CUPS back-end, or are otherwise using a queue type without YaST support, you may need to set this manually.
Since there are a variety of possibilities, specify your URI according to your printer manual.
There are a variety of options available for filter settings. If you have chosen to create seperate queues for seperate printers, this is where the power of Linux & CUPS really shines through.
The following list shows some examples (in particular when a PPD file for the Gimp-Print driver is used). The actually available filter settings depend on which PPD file was used to set up the queue.
- Contrast Level - Contrast is the difference in visual properties that makes an object (or its representation in an image) distinguishable from other objects and the background. In the case of printing, the contrast is set to show more clearly the difference between black and white, or other complimentary colors. The reason for having a different queue is, for example, that for a letter to a friend you may choose a lower contrast setting, saving you ink, while you may wish to have a high contrast for your resume - making sure the letters stand out on paper.
- Color Levels - The levels may be individually set for the colors available to your printer. Since these are specific to your printer, each color will not be listed. The color level is the prominence of an individual color. You may wish to set this very specifically for photo or other high-quality prints that require a level of color-matching.
- Density - If your print is too light or too dark, adjust your print density accordingly.
- Brightness - Changes in paper type may require an adjusted brightness. If you are using glossy paper, for example, your colors will appear more vibrant and bright as a result of the paper. With plain paper, the brightness of your final print is more subdued. Adjust your settings according to the type of print you wish to achieve.
- Gamma - Gamma may need to be adjusted in order to achieve the proper luminance. Again, adjust according to the type of print you wish to achieve.
- Saturation - Color saturation affects the overall appearance of the image. A saturation map is best to display the saturation levels, which you can test for with a variety of tools. Some areas of weak saturation, which is printer-dependant, may effect the overall appearance of color in your prints. With weak saturation, you may wish to lower your saturation levels to achieve a more consistent color profiles. For high saturation in your prints, decrease your saturation level for color consistency.
- Ink Type - Printers may have subsets of ink types available. If you can change your ink cartridges to use four or six color printing, these values are set here. Your printer may also have different subsets utilizing the existing inks in different ways. Check with your manufacturer's specifications to find out more.
- Input Slot - Different prints may require different sources. For example, you may have a manual feed, tray feed, auxiliary feed, or multiple roll feed types available.
- Media Type - Media type defines the paper you are using. Decide which paper type most properly fits the profile you are creating, and set this here.
- Page Size - Self-explanatory - defines the size of the paper you are using.
- Printout Mode - Various settings, printer-dependant. Some examples would be grayscale, draft, high quality, photo, etc.
- Dither Algorithm - This can be controlled by the mode of print you have set, or apply varying dithering algorithm types.
- Ghostscript Resolution - Your resolution may be set by the printout mode, but it is recommended that if you are creating specific profiles, you specify the DPI you wish for your prints.
- Image Type - Again, specify if you are creating specific profiles. This way you can save ink by appropriately choosing the type or images you are producing, such as photos vs. graphs and charts.
- Output Type - Black & White, Color, or Grayscale. Choose according to the profile being created.
- Quality - The quality settings available by the printer's DPI capabilities, such as 720x720, 720x360, 720x360 Unidirectional, etc.
- Orientation - Orientation of the paper/print.
- Pages per Sheet - This lets you print multiple pages or prints on a single sheet. You may wish to do this to create a contact sheet, or print business cards.
Restriction Settings allows you to specify which print queues are available to which users. You will probably want to set this.
You may wish to set a group to be able to print to a printer local to them (thus the location description!). You may wish to only give children access to lower-quality prints, so as not to waste ever-expensive ink. You may wish to specify the college students to only use the laser, for printing out all those revisions of their term papers. This choice, like so much else, is up to you.
State and Banner Settings
State and Banner Settings is used when you wish to specify a specific situational identity for a printer. For example, you may wish to use a banner that says "Confidential" on every print, because of the work associated with that printer. Also, you may need to change the state of the printer, for example stop it from accepting jobs into the print queue so that changes can be made.
Hopefully, by the end of this, you feel comfortable adding and configuring queues to your CUPS-based print system and giving them multiple identities and purposes.
- CUPS in a Nutshell
- SuSE Hardware Compatability List (HCL) for Printers