Using a simple RPi we can turn an otherwise normal USB printer into a network printer. Making it easier to print from anywhere in your house, and using any computer in your house. Literally breathing a bit more life into your “old” printer that you were just considering tossing away.
We’ll take advantage of the CUPS software to make this happen. CUPS stands for Common Unix Printing System and is what runs most Linux printing software. It’s going to be the bit that does the communication to your printer to properly print your files. Lets get started…
To save some time before you do do this… First check if your printer is supported by visiting this link: https://www.openprinting.org/printers
Setting up CUPS
Open a terminal window or SSH into your RPi.
Make sure your RPi is up-to-date with the following commands:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
Install CUPS with the following command
sudo apt-get install cups
Add the user ‘pi’ to the ‘lpadmin’ group. This will allow your user ‘pi’ to access all of the administrative functions of CUPS without having to be a superuser. Use the following command.
sudo usermod -a -G lpadmin pi
We need to make CUPS accessible to your whole network. Currently it is only accessible on the RPi itself. To allow it to accept all traffic, use the following commands.
sudo cupsctl --remote-any
sudo /etc/init.d/cups restart
You can now access the RPi print server from any computer on your network. Use the following command if you are unsure of your IP adderss.
Now with that IP address open a web browser and enter the following url, replacing <ip-address> with the IP address of your RPi
To allow our CUPS printer server to talk to Windows and to let our windows computers print to it, we need to setup SAMBA on the RPi. Use the following command to install SAMBA.
sudo apt-get install samba
After installing SAMBA, we will need to make a few edit it’s configuration file. Use the following command to open it’s config file in the nano editor.
sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf
Scroll down to the end of the file. Edit it to make it match the following:
# CUPS print server [printers] comment = All Printers browseable = no path = /var/spool/samba printable = yes guest ok = yes read only = yes create mask = 0700 # Windows clients look for this share name as a source of downloadable # printer drivers [print$] comment = Printer Drivers path = /var/lib/samba/printers browseable = yes read only = no guest ok = no
Save and exit the editor by pressing ‘Ctrl-X’, then ‘Y’, then ‘Enter’
Restart SAMBA with the following command to load our configuration changes.
sudo systemctl restart smbd
Adding a printer to CUPS
Now with the software portion installed, we need to add the printer to CUPS. Make sure that you have turned the printer ‘On’ and that you have it connected to your RPi.
Open a web browser and enter the following url, replacing <ip-address> with the IP address of your RPi
Click on the ‘Administrative’ tab at the top of the page.
Then click the “Add Printer” button.
On the ‘Add Printer’ screen select the name of the printer you want to set up, and click “Continue”.
In this example, we are setting up a HP LaserJet P2055d printer.
Note: If your printer appear on the screen, make sure that it is indeed ‘On’ and connected to your RPi. After verifying that it is, if it is still not appearing, you may need to try restarting your RPi while leaving the printer ‘On’ and connected.
This screen is where you give your printer a name, set a description for it, and a location. The most important thing to do on this screen is to click the tick box for “Sharing: Share This Printer”
On this screen you will select the model of your printer. CUPS tries to auto-detect the model of printer and will select a driver based off what you select. Your selection will differ from mine. Once you are happy with your selection, click the “Add Printer” button at the bottom.
The final screen will let you set the default printer options; paper size, tray, resolution, double-sided, etc….
While not required, I like to give the RPi one more reboot after adding the printer.
To check the status of the print and it’s print queue, use the following command on the RPi.
It will display the printer name and if it’s “ready” and if any print jobs are pending.
Adding RPi printer to Windows 10
One thing I noticed when trying to add the printer to to my Windows 10 machines is that I had initially had problems auto-detecting and adding it. It just simply would not work. After a bit of searching the internet, I found a solution that did work for me.
Click on the ‘Start Menu’ and start typing “Printers”, then click on ‘Printers & scanner’.
Click on ‘Add a printer or scanner’
Windows will begin searching for printers… After a moment a link that appears that says “The printer that I want isn’t listed”. Click on that link.
This will open a ‘Add Printer’ window.
Click on the option “Select a shared printer by name”
Enter the “name” of your shared printer in the following format, then click ‘Next’.
- Replace <RPi/CUP-IP_Address> with the IP address of your RPi
- Replace <PrinterName> with the name of your shared printer
Note: You might have to manually select your printer driver if it is not automatically detected.
The page will show that the printer has been successfully added, and it will appear in your “Printers & scanners”
You can now print to your RPi printer!