Enterprise Unix Roundup: Open Source, Redefined Page 3

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted Apr 8, 2005

Main     In Other News     Recent Updates     Tips of the Trade

Recent Updates

  • MTA Postfix was updated to version 2.2.2. The new release includes a collection of bugfixes and a change in the Berkeley DB API from version 2.5 to 2.6.

  • Updater 5 for application server JRun was released. The changelog reports bugfixes and enhancements, including support for more current versions of JavaMail, Sun JDK, and SunONE.

  • SGI released Advanced Linux Environment 3 Security Update #32, which tracks recent errata announced by Red Hat, including fixes to ImageMagick, ipsec-tools, and a Mozilla security update. The release includes updated SGI ProPack 3 Service Pack 4 RPMs for SGI Altix systems.

  • Gentoo joined the list of distributions patching the MIT Kerberos telnet vulnerability.

Tips of the Trade

Network printing is one of those basic administration chores that can be done many different ways: share user's printers, use a workgroup printer with built-in networking, or use a hardware printer server. The first option is the worst — the last thing someone wants is hordes of people trooping into her cubicle to mess with the printer. Workgroup printers are great. They are sturdy and suited to high-demand usage, and they plug directly into the network. But they can also be expensive and difficult to administer.

A stand-alone printer server offers the most flexibility; then you can share any printer you like and not have to pay a premium for built-in networking. A Linux printer server using CUPS and Samba makes a great cross-platform printer server. It gives the most power and flexibility, as well as rock-solid stability. The hardware can be almost anything: an old PC, a new sleek mini-ITX, or a Soekris-type box. Keeping old PCs out of landfills is always a noble goal, and it saves money.

But what if you don't want to sacrifice reliability just to keep some grotty old hardware in service?

Using ordinary PC hardware gives the most flexibility. You can add PCI-parallel adapters, USB ports, and even a wireless adapter for wireless clients or to save running cables. The only cost is the hardware — CUPS and Samba are the software that make this all go.

CUPS all by itself makes a great printer server, but it lacks one thing — the ability to install Windows drivers over the network. Adding Samba not only allows automatic installation of Windows printers, it also enables access controls to be set up.

A commercial version of CUPS that may better suit your needs is also available. It comes with support, more and better-quality printer drivers, and nice management utilities.

For a good introduction to CUPS, see Chapter 14 of the Linux Cookbook, and check out the related article Network Installation of Windows Printers from Samba.

Carla Schroder writes the Tips of the Trade section of Enterprise Unix Roundup. She also appears on Enterprise Networking Planet and Linux Planet, covering Linux from the desktop to the server room.

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