lynsayshepherd.com
January 14th 2013

Wireless Printing/AirPrint Server via the Raspberry Pi

NOTICE: Please read the entire post (and the comments) before proceeding.  This post was originally written at the end of 2012 and some of you have left comments noting fewer steps are required nowadays.  This guide should still work though. Updated guide (no Windows section) available at https://www.lynsayshepherd.com/blog/2015/10/18/wireless-printingairprint-server-via-the-raspberry-pi-updated-guide/.

NOTICE 2: Thank you for all of your emails regarding this post. Unfortunately, I can’t answer every one. If you’re struggling with printing, it might be worth reading through the comment section.

One of the first projects I wanted to attempt when I got my Raspberry Pi was to turn my wired Canon printer into a wireless printer. I managed to get it working so I thought I’d share the steps I went through.

Right, first things first, update the packages on your Pi:

sudo apt-get update

Next up, install all the packages required for printing. The following commands could be put on one line but I took the longer option of installing one package at a time.

sudo apt-get install avahi-daemon
sudo apt-get install avahi-discover
sudo apt-get install libnss-mdns
sudo apt-get install cups
sudo apt-get install cups-pdf
sudo apt-get install python-cups

It takes a while for the packages to install, so grab a cup of tea while you wait. Once everything has finished, you’ll need to add your username to the CUPS server so you’re able to add printers etc later on.

sudo usermod -aG lpadmin pi

Now, check that CUPS has installed correctly and that the service works (it stands for Common Unix Printing System and will let the Raspberry Pi act as a print server):

sudo /etc/init.d/cups start

You’ll need to check the Avahi service works too (it finds various devices on the network which are discoverable):

sudo /etc/init.d/avahi-daemon start

Next, you’ll need to edit the CUPS config file:

sudo nano /etc/cups/cupsd.conf

You’ll need to set-up the port we’re going to be listening on. Comment out the line that reads “Listen localhost:631”. Add in “Port 631”. It should look something like this:

#Listen localhost:631
Port 631

CUPS will need to be told to be used with any hostname, so it can work with AirPrint. The ServerAlias * directive needs to be added before the first occurence of <Location />

The config file will also need to be edited to control access to the server by adding “Allow @Local” in several places e.g.:

# Restrict access to the server...
Order allow,deny
Allow @Local

You need to include it in these areas of the config file:

# Restrict access to the server...
# Restrict access to the admin pages...
# Restrict access to configuration files...

Save the config file and restart the CUPS service:

sudo /etc/init.d/cups restart

Now, find the IP address of your Pi. It’ll be something like 192.168.1.x

ifconfig

Navigate to the CUPS configuration page by typing the IP address you just retrieved and the port number CUPS uses (so it’ll be an address like 192.168.1.x:631). A security exception message may pop up but that’s ok. Continue onwards!

Click on the Admin tab and view the server settings which are towards the right-hand side of the screen. Tick the box that says “share printers connected to this system”. At this stage, you’ll be asked for the username and password of the Raspberry Pi.

Plug your printer into one of the USB ports on the Pi. Click “add printer” in the CUPS web interface and it should appear under local printers. You’ll have to fill in details for the printer, such as name and location. You can enter whatever you want in here but the important part is ensuring you tick the “share this printer” box. Following this, you’ll have to select the appropriate printer driver from a (large) list that appears. Enter print and paper settings too. You’re now ready to click on maintenance > print test page. If everything has gone to plan, the test page will print successfully. You’re not done yet though….

You now need to set-up the Avahi service which will allow you to discover wireless printers on Apple devices. First, navigate to the opt directory, make a directory called airprint and move to it:

cd ../../opt
sudo mkdir airprint
cd airprint

Now, download the Python file which will help us generate the services we need (all one line):

sudo wget -O airprint-generate.py --no-check-certificate 
https://raw.github.com/tjfontaine/airprint-generate/master/airprint-generate.py

The permissions of the script need to be edited so it can be executed:

sudo chmod 755 airprint-generate.py

Generate the Avahi service and place the script in the appropriate folder:

sudo ./airprint-generate.py -d /etc/avahi/services

On generating the service I got the error shown below. This is fine if you don’t have any Apple devices running iOS6 but I’m willing to bet that most people with capable devices are running it.

image/urf is not in mime types, what_the_printer_is_called may not be available on ios6
(see https://github.com/tjfontaine/airprint-generate/issues/5)

To fix this issue, you’ll have to create 2 files in the /usr/share/cups/mime directory. These files will be called airprint.types and airprint.convs. Let’s start with airprint.types.

Use nano to create a new file and edit it:

sudo nano airprint.types

Insert the following into the airprint.types file:

#
# "$Id: $"
#
# AirPrint type
image/urf urf string(0,UNIRAST)
#
# End of "$Id: $".
#

Again, use nano to create the second file:

sudo nano airprint.convs

Insert the following into airprint.convs

#
# "$Id: $"
#
# AirPrint
# Updated list with minimal set 25 Sept
image/urf application/pdf 100 pdftoraster
#
# End of "$Id: $".
#

Restart the CUPS service now that changes have been made:

sudo service cups restart

The Python file which helped us generate services earlier needs to be re-downloaded to the opt/airprint directory

sudo wget https://raw.github.com/tjfontaine/airprint-generate/master/airprint-generate.py

Ensure that you’re in the airprint directory and regenerate the Avahi service (like before):

sudo ./airprint-generate.py -d /etc/avahi/services

Various files have been edited so I’d recommend that you reboot the Raspberry Pi around now. If you only have Apple devices, that’s it, you’re done- hopefully, everything should work. In my experience, I’ve found that the printer can be a little laggy and sometimes, it just doesn’t bother printing certain jobs from my iPhone. Don’t let that put you off though- most of the time it works as expected. I’ve had no problems printing from my laptop or iPad.

 

INTERMISSION

 

Now, I’m aware some of you will want to use the Raspberry Pi to print from Windows machine. If you want to do this, you’ve got a few more steps to go. Before I go any further, I’ll say that I tested this with Windows XP only- things might be easier with Windows Vista/7/8. Maybe things will need to be done slightly differently, I don’t know.

Install Samba on the Raspberry Pi which allows cross-platform file/printer sharing (basically allows Linux and Windows file systems to connect to each other)

sudo apt-get install samba

Navigate to the samba config file which can be found at- /etc/samba/smb.conf. Ensure it contains the following data:

	# CUPS printing.  See also the cupsaddsmb(8) manpage in the
	# cupsys-client package.
	   printing = cups
	   printcap name = cups
	[printers]
	   comment = All Printers
	   browseable = no
	   path = /var/spool/samba
	   printable = yes
	   guest ok = yes
	   read only = yes
	   create mask = 0700
 
	# Windows clients look for this share name as a source of downloadable
	# printer drivers
	[print$]
	   comment = Printer Drivers
	   path = /usr/share/cups/drivers
	   browseable = yes
	   read only = yes
	   guest ok = no

 

INTERMISSION

 

You’re now finished with the Raspberry Pi. Again, I’d reboot it anyway, just to ensure that all appropriate files are running with the configuration that you’ve entered.

So, you want to print in Windows, eh? Here it goes-

I’ll reiterate, I used Windows XP. Things might be different in Vista/7/8

Install the drivers for your printer

Navigate to My Computer > View workgroup computers > Raspberrypi server > Printername

A few dialogue boxes may appear but they should be ok

Select the appropriate driver from the list of printer drivers that appears and click ok

The printer attached to the Raspberry Pi will now appear in the control panel under printers and faxes

My printer constantly displays “access denied, unable to connect” but it still works anyway (I’ve got no idea why)

Finally, try and print something- the new printer will appear in the list of available printers. Fingers crossed, you should now be able to print from Windows too!

This tutorial is based on content from a few other sources:
Configuring the Raspberry Pi as an AirPrint Server
iOS6 Doesn’t Recognise CUPS Print Shares
Printserver for Windows Clients

Edit- I’ve noticed this tutorial was ripped to shreds by a user on Reddit earlier in the year, so I thought I’d clarify a few things. The distro I used was Raspbian (my previous posts about my Raspberry Pi show the version I used). Technically the tutorial is not Raspberry Pi specific and should work on other Debian distros too however, the Pi is neat wee computer to turn into a print server. Yes, I typed “sudo apt-get install” multiple times, instead of installing packages using just the one line, but I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I was a Linux n00b at the time.

On the positive side, thank you to everyone who has posted comments about the guide on my blog :). I must have done something right if so many of you got wireless printing to work! A few of you have mentioned that some of the packages are no longer necessary when setting up the printer- I’m considering putting an updated guide together to make it easier for folks.

February 26th 2012

My Thoughts On The Windows 8 Dev Preview

Perhaps I’m a little behind the times since I’ve only just installed the Windows 8 Developer Preview (when it was actually released mid-December). Nevertheless, I’ve been playing around with it to get a feel for it.  Before I go any further, it should noted that the preview was running on a MacBook via VirtualBox. I chose not to create an account via my Windows Live ID and instead chose the option of creating a Local Account.

The installation process was easy. A few steps and that was it. Microsoft seem to have improved upon this- as I recall, installing XP took several steps and information had to be entered periodically though the process. Maybe I just think it’s easier because I’m more experienced now?

Right, initial thoughts on the interface. First off, it’s very green but not in a bad way. The Start Screen is colourful, and filled with a selection of apps and options- I believe this is the Metro interface (I have included an image of it). As soon as I saw it, I wanted to start using my laptop screen as a touchscreen. Since it isn’t a touchscreen, it would do nothing other than generate a mass of greasy fingerprints.

Windows 8 Start Screen

This leads me to my first piece of criticism of the developer preview- the interface seems geared towards tablet devices and I’m not sure that translates to the desktop experience. One of the apps I played around with was the Piano one. It was ok using the mouse but it’s something I would have preferred to use on a touchscreen- it would have been much faster. Microsoft seems eager to demonstrate the capabilities of the Metro interface which is fair enough because it is nice but again, I’m not sure these touchscreen apps adapt to suit a desktop environment.

Another app I looked at was the Internet Explorer app. I only experimented with it briefly but the thing I found odd was that the address bar was at the bottom of the screen! It was surrounded by black so it was unobtrusive but it struck me as an odd place to put it. Thinking about it, it’s actually a good place to put it- it doesn’t get in the way of the top part of the website you’re trying to view. It’s a neat app. For those that are panicking, the standard desktop version of Internet Explorer is also included so you’re not forced to use the tablet-optimised one.

One thing I found a little odd was the lack of an X in the corner to close an app. Instead, pressing the Windows key on the keyboard works as an X button. I guess this relates to tablet features being included with the OS, as on those devices, you press a “Home” button or something similar to leave an app.

For seasoned users who are worried this is a totally different version of Windows they’ll have to get used to, fear not, the traditional desktop environment still exists and Windows Explorer is there to use.

Shutting Down

When I was finished playing around with the preview, I needed to shut down the machine- this is where I ran into a problem. How do you normally shut down a Windows computer? Start > shut down. When I tried this in Windows 8, there was no shut down option. I resorted to Google which told me I had to click on the Start button, then click on settings. This produced a large green sidebar on the right of the screen. You then have to select power from this menu, then you can finally shut down. I’ve been a Windows user since around 1997/1998 and I felt a bit silly because I didn’t know how to shut down- why has this changed and what was wrong with the old way?

My overall thoughts. I think the Windows 8 Developer Preview looks quite nice but many of the UI features are geared towards tablet devices, and it doesn’t quite work in a desktop environment. That said, at least they have included the desktop Windows users have come to expect so there isn’t a huge learning curve for existing users. Personally, I think Microsoft should stick to having a separate desktop and tablet/mobile OS, like Apple have OSX and iOS. That’s just my 2 cents. Of course, the Consumer preview is supposed to be released on the 29th of February so things may have changed!