As networks move toward a single protocol—most likely TCP/IP—the time will come when you’ll need to talk to your printers via TCP/IP. Doing so isn’t as hard as you’d think. If you already have TCP/IP installed on your NT Server, most of your work is done. In this article, I’ll walk you through the process of getting TCP/IP Printing services up and running.

Installing TCP/IP Printing services
The first step in installing TCP/IP-based printing on your Microsoft network is to install the service that will allow it to happen. Be sure that you have logged on to the NT Server as Administrator or with a login ID that has equivalent rights. Next, right-click Network Neighborhood and select Properties. Click the Services tab and click the Add button. Then, select Microsoft TCP/IP Printing from the list of available services and click OK. The next window asks you to supply the path for the I386 directory. If you don’t already have a copy of this directory from your installation CD, take a few minutes and copy it over. This step will save you time when you need to add or reinstall services, and it will help you get the job done a little faster. After you’ve provided the correct path, click OK. After a minute or so, the copy process will be complete.

Once the server has restarted, take a few minutes and reinstall the version of NT Service Pack that was previously installed on this server. If you haven’t added a service to your NT, reinstall the old Service Pack so that the service you just installed will contain the latest files. When you install a Service Pack, only the installed services are updated—which means that when you install a service in the future, you’re installing potentially older files that may not operate correctly with the files that were updated by the Service Pack install.

After the server has rebooted, you’ll want to see if your server’s manufacturer offers an update that should be applied to the server at this point. For example, Compaq servers have this type of update. In fact, it isn’t unusual for a Service Pack install to downgrade a file that’s used by Compaq’s manufactured hardware. Compaq recommends that you apply its SSD (Support Software Disk) to avoid potential problems. Now, you’re ready to begin installing your first printer.

Installing a TCP/IP-based printer
Installing a printer under TCP/IP is similar to the process of setting up network-based printers. In this article, we’ll use an Intel Netport to service the remote printer. Begin the printer creation process by selecting Start | Settings | Printers. Then, double-click the Add New Printer icon.

The wizard’s first window asks you to select a printer that’s attached to the computer upon which you’re working (My Computer) or one that’s attached to a network print server. Select My Computer and click Next.

In the next window, look for an LPR port in the list (for example, COM1, LPT1, and so forth). If you don’t see one listed, click the Add Port button. Scroll through the list of available ports and double-click LPR. Supply the IP address or the DNS name of the network print server device that you’re using (Intel Netport, in our case).

What you enter into the Printer Name field depends on the network print server that you’re using. In our example, the Intel Netport offers several options. Use LPT1_PASSTHRU for most printer connections (assuming that you have the printer connected to Printer Port 1 on the Netport). If your printer requires that you add a carriage return to the end of the print job in order to flush it from the printer’s buffer memory, you can use LPT1_TEXT. (Most laser printers don’t need the carriage return at the end of the print job, and they’ll print a blank page at the end of each job if you send a carriage return to the printer when it’s finished printing the job.)

After you’ve supplied the requested information, click OK. No message will be displayed to advise you that the port has been created. Click Close to dismiss the port creation window. The visible port should display the IP address or DNS name for the printer instead of the LPR label. The checkbox to the left of the printer port that you created should be selected.

Next, select the printer’s manufacturer and model. If your printer isn’t listed, click Have Disk and follow the instructions provided by the printer manufacturer for adding the drivers to your server.

Once the drivers have been added, the final step involves deciding if you need to share the printer. Even if the printer will be used only by the process that runs on the server, you may need to share the printer so that it can be used by the process. The process probably will want to use a UNC (Universal Naming Convention) name to reach the printer (for example, \\NT_Server_name\Printer_share_name). If you need to share the printer, right-click the printer and select the Share tab. Enable sharing and provide the name by which the printer will be known on the network. Click OK. The printer should become available shortly.

As you can see, installing and configuring Microsoft TCP/IP Printing services isn’t extremely complicated. However, there’s an additional step that you’ll need to take when you use an Intel Netport as an LPR print server. When you use Netport on a Microsoft NT network, configure Netport so that it knows that it’s on an NT domain. If you use any other brand of network print server, check the documentation or the product’s support Web site to determine which configuration changes need to be made in order to allow the device to function as an LPR. You also should determine which changes are required to let the NT Server talk to a particular port on the device in LPR mode. When printing problems arise, follow your normal troubleshooting methods to resolve them.

Ronald Nutter is a senior systems engineer in Lexington, KY. He’s an MCSE, Novell Master CNE, and Compaq ASE. Ron has worked with networks ranging in size from single servers to multiserver/multi-OS setups, including NetWare, Windows NT, AS/400, 3090, and UNIX. He’s also the help desk editor for Network World. If you’d like to contact Ron, send himan e-mail . (Because of the large volume of e-mail that he receives, it’s impossible for him to respond to every message. However, he does read them all.)

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