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Printer Types Supported by Lion Server

Lion Server allows you to set up a shared print queue for any printer and Lion Server works with hundreds of new and old printer models. Here are the printer types that Mac OS X Server supports:

  • Printer technology (laser, inkjet, others): Mac OS X Server doesn’t care about how the ink’s put on the paper. More exotic technologies may also work, depending on drivers and the other factors noted later in this list. Inkjet printers typically use USB to connect to the server.

  • Physical connection (USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth): You can share a printer that’s plugged into the server Mac or a printer that connects directly to the network with its own Ethernet port.

    Ethernet printers use a print protocol to communicate with the server over the network; directly connected USB printers do not. USB printers are easier to configure in Mac OS X Server, but Ethernet printers are more convenient because you can locate them where the users are, not just where the server is located.

    You can also share a wireless printer with built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Sharing a wireless printer isn’t the same, however, as connecting a USB printer to a box that puts it on the Ethernet network. Apple’s Time Capsule does this, as do some wireless routers and DSL modems. For the purposes of the Mac OS X Server’s print service, USB printers connected to wireless network devices are treated as Ethernet printers.

  • Page description language (PostScript, raster, or proprietary): This is what the client uses to describe the page; the printer reads the description to re-create the page in printed form. PostScript is the most standard page-description language for Ethernet printers.

    Some inkjet printers also use PostScript, though many describe a page with raster printing, which simply defines where dots are applied on a printed page. HP’s PCL (Printer Command Language), and its variant, HP-GL/2, are other common page-description languages. Proprietary page-description languages are also used for specific printers.

  • Network printing protocol: Lion Server uses Line Printer Remote (LPR) to communicate with printers and servers. These network protocols aren’t used for USB printers. In that case, the USB data transmission standards are used to move print data from server to printer.

The printing protocol that the server uses to communicate with the printer doesn’t have to be the same one it uses to communicate with clients.

Apple dropped AppleTalk in Snow Leopard Server. You won’t be able to use an older AppleTalk printer if it doesn’t also support LPR.

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