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USENIX Technical Program - Abstract - 13th Systems Administration Conference - LISA '99

Design and Implementation of a Failsafe Print System

Giray Pultar, Coubros Consulting LLC


This paper describes a printing system designed for an environment with several hundred printers, such that there is no single point of failure, and the print service continues to be available to new print jobs, even if any part of the print system fails.

The paper also describes the following ideas implemented in this system:

  • use of a single queue name (myprinter) for almost all print jobs from the client
  • use of dynamically created print queues for each user (user-<username>),
  • use of dynamically created print queues to manage low cost desktop printers, that are directly attached to a users display device (local-<xterm>),
  • integration of the print service with the Zephyr notification system to send print progress messages, error messages, as well as route print jobs based on user location as reported by the notification mechanism.
  • ability to route print jobs from legacy systems to all printers in the system, without having to define all the printers on the legacy system. (VM, VMS)
The system was implemented using LPRng [1], taking advantage of its job routing, control file rewriting and dynamic printcap features.
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