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mini-HOWTO: Netgear PS121 print server + Samsung ML1750 + Max OS X + Linux

Earlier this year, I bought the inexpensive Samsung ML-1750 black and white laser printer to replace the unused and old color inkjet I had. The printer worked nicely but it didn’t get much use since I had it connected to a Windows PC. Instead of sharing it through Samba and requiring a whole PC to be on whenever I needed to print, I picked up the Netgear PS121, a small print server. It has an ethernet port that gets connected to our network hub, and a USB port that hooks up to the printer. Out-of-the-box, as dreaded, it worked seamlessly with Windows but it took a little more effort to work with the alternative operating systems. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but here’s what it took to get it all working.

Update the Netgear’s Firmware

Netgear has some good, basic support documents for troubleshooting problems on ther PS121 Support Page. You’ll want to make sure that your running the latest firmware. The instructions on that page for updating the firmware, which requires a windows machine, are lacking at best. After downloading and unpacking the utility and firmware zip files, you’re supposed to run the upgrade utility. Within the upgrade utility, find the printer server on your network, browse to the new firmware file, and hit upgrade. You’ll see a message indicating that the ps121’s eeprom is being rewritten. You’ll get a message indicating success when its done.

Test connections to the PS121

Before proceeding with installing the printer drivers, you want to verify that each computer on your network can connect to the printer server. The easiest way to do so is to bring up a web browser and connect to the IP address of the print server. If it’s working, you’ll be asked for the print server’s password and once authenticated you’ll see a page with the header "Netgear SmartWizard Manager, Mini Print Servers". If you can’t connect, you’ll need to troubleshoot the network connection from that computer to the server

Linux: CUPS and KDE Printing Manager

To print on a linux machine, you’ll need CUPS installed on your machine. Details for installing it will vary by distribution but on debian its as simple as "apt-get install cupsys". The KDE Control Center’s Printers applet provides a comfortable, GUI for setting up CUPS and installing a printer.

These are the settings I used to add the ML-1750 via PS121 as a printer.:

  • Printer Type: Remote LPD Queue
  • LPD Host: the IP address of the print server
  • LPD Queue: The serve name of the print server, you can get it by connecting to the IP address in a browser and looking at the Server Status page.
  • Driver: Samsung ML-1750 Froomatic/pxlmono, you’ll need to have all the foomatic packages installed.

That should do it, you can confim by sending a test page to print.

Mac OS X: CUPS & Ghostscript & Samsung GDI

On my Powerbook, things were a little trickier. On the Samsung site, there are newer print drivers for Max OS X that support 10.3.2 and higher which I downloaded and installed. I connected the printer directly via USB and confirmed that it could print that way. When adding the printer as a Remote LPD Queue however, the option to use the Samsung drivers would not appear. Since the ML-1750 doesn’t support Postscript, print jobs with that option resulted in wasted paper. CUPS is also installed and available, so using the Samsung-GDI drivers does the trick. Once you’ve installed the two packages on that page, a number of Samsung printers will appear as options for the driver. The connection settings are identical to the ones for linux above.

Printing from Thunderbird & Firefox, on Linux

While most apps printed, inexplicably I couldn’t print webpages or emails from Mozilla apps. The printer would show up as an option and I’d get no errors but also no printouts. Turns out, you can bypass the Mozilla settings and use the Kprint dialog for controlling printer settings by specifying kprinter --stdin as the Print Command. Full instructions are at KDE Printing in Mozilla.

Conclusion

Thanks to CUPS, printing on Linux has come a long way since I last struggled with it. You’ll still want to do the research at LinuxPrinting.org to make sure you buy a compatible printer but there is a wide variety of them out there. The fact the Apple has decided to use CUPS on its computers should also convince manufactures to provide CUPS-compatible drivers, and more importantly, serve both Linux and Mac users.