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Printing at CERN

Printing at CERN for Linux Systems

Documentation on this page is intended to be used by visitors, if you are using a CERN-supported Linux version, please look at:



CERN's print service provides printing through a set of print servers. Access to the print servers is through a superset of the Berkeley LPD protocol. Files to be printed may already be encoded in a page description language (notably PostScript), or may be simple text files. Conversion to PostScript must be done on the client side.

System Configuration

In order to use CERN print service your Linux installation must be able to handle LPD printing, either via LPRng or CUPS printing software. (this is the case for all current Linux distributions, as well as for Mac OS X).
To configure your printing system:

  • Lookup the printer information in printing database.
  • Once found, following configuration data will be needed in order to set up your printer:
    • Printer name (usually also found on the printer, example: 31-2401-hp)
    • Model name (only required for functionality like choosing trays/duplex/resolution, using Generic PostScript is usually sufficient for normal printing). For the example above, one would use HP LaserJet 4050 Series
    • Server and queue name, example: with queue 31-2401-hp. You will need to configure a LPD queue (i.e. not IPP or locally-attached)

The above data will generally be sufficient in order to configure your system printing correctly using its configuration tools (system-config-printer, printconf, YAST, CUPS web interface ... etc .. depending on your distribution). Please note that your printing client should pre-process the data (in almost all cases to PostScript format) and format it correctly according to printer model before sending it to the print server.

Using the CERN printers

Either you will have to set you CERN printer as the "default" using the utilities provided with your system, or you can pass the name of the printer you want to use on the command line like

lpr -P 21-2401-hp ....
Depending on the printing system, you can also use environment variables such as LPDEST to select a printer (consult the documentation for your Linux/printing subsystem on this). However, keep in mind that only printers that you have already configured as per above can be used this way.

Using the old xprint script (e.g. copied over from an older CERN machine) is a last recourse - this script contact the print servers directly and does not convert data to PostScript. For printers on the new "Windows" Print Service, this may result in garbage printouts or silently-disappearing jobs.

For CUPS printing system users: additional information about formatting print jobs can be found here.