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How to Create a Lion Server Printer Pool

In a situation when a printer is heavily used, you may want share the load by grouping two or more printers in a pool on Lion Server. A printer pool is basically a queue that contains multiple printers. When a user prints to the pool, the job gets printed to the first available printer. Often, administrators place pooled printers next to each other so users can easily find their printouts.

Use printers of a similar model in a printer pool to ensure that printouts are the same and the printer features are consistent. If you have printers with different features, a user could select a print feature in her Print dialog that doesn’t exist in one of the printers. This could lead to a situation in which a print job won’t print on one of the printers in the pool.

Common Unix Printing System (CUPS) refers to printer pools as classes. To set up a printer pool, you use the CUPS web interface to create a class and assign printers to it:

  1. Open a web browser and go to the CUPS web interface.

    Use these URLs if you’re logged into the server Mac that is hosting the printing.

    • http://127.0.0.1:631

    • http://localhost:631

    If you’re accessing your server from another computer, use instead a URL in this form: http://server-ip-address:631, where server-ip-address is the IP address of the server on which you have printer sharing enabled.

  2. Click the Administration tab.

    The Administration page of the CUPS web interface appears.

    image0.jpg
  3. Click the Add Class button under the Classes heading.

  4. Type a name, description, and location of the class (or pool).

    The name can’t include spaces, slashes, or hash marks.

  5. Select the printers you want to include in the pool from the Members list and click the Add Class button.

    The CUPS interface now takes you to a new management page for the new class.

    image1.jpg

The management page for the class you just created is identical to the management page for an individual printer, accessible from the Printers tab. The Maintenance pop-up menu lets you manage jobs, giving you options to pause and resume all print jobs, as well as reject/accept all jobs and print a test page.

A useful option is Move All Jobs, which shifts current jobs to one printer, letting you take other printers offline without disturbing any of the printing.

The new printer class now appears in the print dialogs of users’ computers. You’ll also see it in the System Preferences Print & Scan pane of the user and the server, with an icon showing three printers instead of one.

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