Saturday, 09 July 2005, 15:46:53 EDT

Every time I use Windows I hate it just a little bit more; okay, maybe more than a little bit. I recently purchased a wireless print server. I had become frustrated trying to get my Powerbook to use my printer shared via my Ubuntu desktop. For some reason OS X just refused to work with the printer and I was tired of fighting with it. The print server was on sale, actually on sale, no mail in rebates, at CompUSA and my local store had some in stock. The device isn't what I would call quality hardware but it works. I can print to my printer, connected to the print server, via OS X and Ubuntu by using the LPD protocol; each OS uses the Gimp-Print system so I don't have to track down drivers for my printer, they are just there.

So, why does all of this make me dislike Windows even more? Well, the print server is technically designed to work with Windows just like 98% of all the hardware out there. Since it is designed to work with Windows one would assume that it should be insanely easy to set up the printer in Windows, right? Not the case. The print server comes with some software for Windows that is supposed to search the network for the print server and automatically configure a new printer port on the system and then walk the user through configuring the printer drivers. The software does not find the print server on the network — awesome. I had to manually add the custom printer port, using the print server's IP address because it doesn't show up on the network under Windows. Then I had to download the 20MB printer drivers from HP, because Windows doesn't come with a PPD for the printer, and install them the old fashioned "have disk" way. I wouldn't have had to install the print server's special software if Windows 1) would see the device via Windows Networking or 2) could use the LPD protocol (it can only printer over Windows Networking or via HTTP).

Windows sucks.


I have not had any experience with wireless print servers, but I would assume that it works by plugging the printer into a device that mimics a computer with the printer "shared". Your story makes me hesitant to purchase one now, as I was considering it for a while.

I think that wireless networks in general are just flaky, and Windows networking even more-so. Interesting conundrum, so good luck!

Posted by Mr Frosti on Wednesday, 13 July 2005, 8:25:11 EDT.

Yes and no. Yes, the primary way you are supposed to access the printer is through a "windows share" but most of them support alternate ways of accessing the printer. They sort of turn the printer in to a network printer without having to shell out the extra cash for a real network printer.

My print server works over wireless or wired. If it has a patch cable plugged in then the wireless gets disabled. There isn't anything wrong with either aspect of the device's ability to be a part of the local area network.

The problem is really all Microsoft. They refuse to release specifications for the SMB protocol; so if you are not Microsoft you have to use a reverse engineered version of the protocol. This is not always very compatible, with the already horrible, official protocol.

As I said, the other methods the device supports for printing work just fine. I am now able to print from all three of my computers without any problems. In the end the device is worth what I paid for it because I can't afford any of the printers I would really like to have. It just provided Windows another opportunity to make me dislike it some more.

Posted by James Sumners on Wednesday, 13 July 2005, 9:06:14 EDT.