This lesson presents an overview of the network printing process and describes how a shared printer works within a network operating system.
After this lesson, you will be able to:
- Give an overview of the network printing process.
- Describe the role of print spoolers and queues in network printing.
- Describe the steps required to make a printer available for sharing to the network.
Estimated lesson time: 15 minutes
As shown in Figure 11.1, when network users want to print data on a shared network printer, they send their data to a print server. The server then feeds that data to a shared printer.
Figure 11.1 Data to be printed goes first to the print server
A print spooler is software that intercepts a print job on its way from the application (a word processor, for example) to the printer, and sends it to a print queue. A print queue is a buffer where the print job is held until the printer is ready for it.
Network printing occurs in the following four steps.
Print queues generally use RAM for storage because it can move data faster than a hard disk can. However, if numerous documents are sent to the printer at once and the queue overflows, the overflow documents will be sent to the print server's hard disk to wait their turn in the queue.
Connecting a printer to a network print server will not, in itself, make the printer available to network users. The printer is a resource on the server, and—like any other resource—it must be shared to the network before anyone can access it. In a server-based network, access to the printer can be controlled in the same way as access to any other resource on the server.
To send print jobs to a printer, users have to be able to identify or see the printer from their computers. In other words, the network operating system (NOS) must provide a way for the printer to contact network computers to identify itself and signal that it is available.
Essential Printer Information
Every NOS has its own version of printer sharing, but each requires the administrator to provide printer drivers and supply the NOS with information about the printer.
These procedures include:
The Print-Sharing Utility
This process can seem complex, but most network operating systems have utilities to help administrators enter the information. In Windows NT Server, for example, a utility called the Print Manager presents the printer setup screen shown in Figure 11.2.
Figure 11.2 Windows NT Print Manager printer setup
After a printer has been shared, users must use the NOS to connect to it. To do this, users need to know two things:
This explains why the administrator needs to supply a name for the printer during the sharing process. Current computer operating systems, such as Windows, provide a graphical user interface to help users connect to a printer.
To use Windows NT as an example, you can double-click on the server name and select the printer. To connect to the printer on the server, double-click the server icon, and then select the required printer from the list.
In this exercise, a list of terms is given in the left column. For each term listed, fill in the definition in the space given in the column to the right.
The following points summarize the main elements of this lesson: