Configure and Manage Linux Print Queues and Jobs

In this virtual lab the learner is tasked with setting up and configuring a Linux print server on Azure. A vm will be available to the learner for them to install the Common Unix Printing System(CUPS) and supporting command line tools. Once these are loaded they will configure and test the device.

45 minutes
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Lab Overview:

Azure administrators are often requested to deploy logistics support servers such as the print server in this lab. For this activity the vm has already been provisioned for the learner and so they will have to connect to it using SSH. When using a Windows computer this is accomplished using a program named PuTTY. With this program the administrator can open a secure shell with any VM they have in Azure. Once you have connected with the Linux VM you can then begin to install, configure and test your print server.

Install CUPS and the LPR tools:

Linux uses the Common Unix Printing System(CUPS) and LPR command tools to manage print services. These tools allow for the creation of printers, printing files and managing queues. The importance of a print server is that it acts as a single point managing the print requests of several clients on a network. Advantages of this central control include ease of installation and updating, resource allocation, and log retention. As with most applications on Linux the package manager is used to load the software as this will make it easier to track needed patches. The fact that the manager is apt tells you that this is a debian based OS.

Create a CUPS printer from the Linux command line:

Linux has a very unique directory structure that treats any object as a file. This means that a text file such as /etc/myconfig.txt and the printer /dev/lp1 are actually seen exactly the same from the operating system’s point of view. This was one of the great leaps forward in thinking that Unix(the OS that Linux is based on) brought with it. In the exercise we are creating the printer in the /dev directory where most devices are mounted. The LPR tools give a specific method to interact with these “files” that are actually the printers.

Manage CUPS printers from the Linux command line:

The next part of the lab demonstrates this “everything is a file” concept even better. As you add the print jobs to the queue it will automatically set a rank for the job, give the user who sent the job and finally the file that is being printed. It literally is merely keeping track of the copying of the file from its original location to that of the printer within the file system. Note that all important information about the received print jobs will also be logged.

Lab Summary Conclusion:

Print servers make it easy to manage large environments that need to efficiently use printers. The server acts as a central pivot of all print jobs and thus can spread them over available printers. The print server also makes it possible to maintain and update printer software much easier. This lab showed how any server type can be created in Azure and used by a company as if it were on premises. Administering servers on Azure is actually almost the same when using tools like PuTTY to work through SSH.