Windows 2000 print servers are thoroughly integrated with Active Directory, making it possible for clients to easily find a suitable printer on the network.
Printers are automatically published in Active Directory when you share them on the network, unless you clear the List In The Directory check box. You can control whether a printer is published by opening the printer's Properties dialog box and, in the Sharing tab, selecting or clearing the List In The Directory check box.
Printers are published to whatever domain controller the print server happens to find on its domain. The new printer objects (printQueue objects in Active Directory-speak) are then automatically propagated through Active Directory to the other domain controllers so that clients can find the printers regardless of which domain controller they're querying. The maximum propagation delay within a single site is about 30 minutes, but it's usually closer to 5 to 10 minutes.
When a print server updates the characteristics of its printers, Active Directory is automatically updated. If a print server goes offline, its printers are removed from Active Directory until it comes back online, at which point the print server republishes its printers.
Publishing All Printers in the Active Directory
Most enterprises won't have all their printers hosted by Windows 2000 print servers, yet ideally, all printers that are available to clients should be listed in Active Directory. For this to happen, you'll need to specifically publish printers that are not hosted by a Windows 2000 print server in Active Directory.
To do so, launch Active Directory Users and Computers from the Administrative Tools folder, right-click the domain, subnet, or organizational unit in which you want to publish the printer, and choose New Printer from the shortcut menu. Enter the path of the printer to be published in the UNC Path Of Downlevel Print Server To Be Published text box, and then click OK.
Active Directory makes it easy to search for printers to which you want to connect. To find a printer using Active Directory, point to Search on the Start menu and choose For Printers. Enter the name of the printer or its model in the Name and Model text boxes. Alternatively, click the Features tab to specify the particular features needed, or click the Advanced tab to fine-tune the search with a variety of values (Figure 8-18).
Figure 8-18. Possible features for designing a printer search.
If you're in a large organization, it might be difficult to identify a nearby printer without printer location tracking, discussed in the next section.
If printer location tracking is enabled, when the query form opens, the system determines the location of the computer from which the query is being run and fills in the Location box. Click Browse to change the location.
When location tracking is enabled, you can use the Group Policy snap-in (covered in Chapter 9) to define locations that don't depend on actual geographic locations.
Finding a printer in a large enterprise can be tricky. Active Directory provides a useful alternative to wandering the halls: printer location tracking. Printer location tracking uses Active Directory to store the printer location, allowing users to search for printers based on names, locations, and a long list of features (as described in the next section).
To use printer location tracking, you need to publish the printers in Active Directory with the Location field filled out. This makes it easy for users to find printers that are physically near them when searching Active Directory for a printer.
This section covers the requirements for using printer location tracking and explains how to enable this feature. (It is turned off by default.)
Printer location tracking requires a few conditions to work properly. These conditions are easy for most organizations to meet, but the network infrastructure of some companies will require modification. To use printer location tracking, the following conditions must be in place:
For information on how to install Active Directory and create the appropriate subnets for the enterprise using Active Directory Sites and Services, see Chapter 12.
Printer location tracking isn't particularly useful until an enterprise is quite large. However, you should use a compatible naming convention so you can enable printer location tracking at some future time.
Once you've prepped the network, follow these steps to set up printer location tracking:
Figure 8-19. The Group Policy snap-in.
You'll probably want to be more specific in the Location box for printers than simply providing the location of the subnet. For example, you might add a room number or name.