18.1.1 Features and Benefits
The Common UNIX Print System (CUPS  ) has become quite popular. All major Linux distributions now ship it as their default printing system. To many, it is still a mystical tool. Mostly, it just works. People tend to regard it as a " black box " that they do not want to look into as long as it works. But once there is a little problem, they are in trouble to find out where to start debugging it. Refer to the chapter " Classical Printing " that contains a lot of information that is relevant for CUPS.
CUPS sports quite a few unique and powerful features. While their basic functions may be grasped quite easily, they are also new. Because they are different from other, more traditional printing systems, it is best not to try and apply any prior knowledge about printing to this new system. Rather, try to understand CUPS from the beginning. This documentation will lead you to a complete understanding of CUPS. Let's start with the most basic things first.
CUPS is more than just a print spooling system. It is a complete printer management system that complies with the new Internet Printing Protocol (IPP). IPP is an industry and Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard for network printing. Many of its functions can be managed remotely (or locally) via a Web browser (giving you a platform-independent access to the CUPS print server). Additionally, it has the traditional command line and several more modern GUI interfaces (GUI interfaces developed by third parties, like KDE's overwhelming KDEPrint  ).
CUPS allows creation of " raw " printers (i.e., no print file format translation) as well as " smart " printers (i.e., CUPS does file format conversion as required for the printer). In many ways this gives CUPS similar capabilities to the MS Windows print monitoring system. Of course, if you are a CUPS advocate, you would argue that CUPS is better! In any case, let us now move on to explore how one may configure CUPS for interfacing with MS Windows print clients via Samba.