Wednesday Dec 12, 2007

H-P Printers, JetDirect software and Solaris 10

Sun has always recommended using printer vendor software to install network printers. There are many benefits to this, but the most important benefit is that the vendor's software "driver" allows the use of special printer functions (tray selection, double-sided prints, landscape vs. portrait, etc.)

The most popular printers that we hear about are the models from Hewlett-Packard. You could say they are a "de-facto standard". The HP Unix printing software is "JetDirect" (which is also how HP refers to the printer's network interface). A call I had yesterday reminded me just how useful the JetDirect software/interface can be and why this nifty little package will save the sysadmin hours of frustration.

The customer was configuring printers and had trouble getting proper printouts and on some of the queues, any printouts at all. He was using Solaris 10 and mostly HP printers. The queues needed to be able to handle output from a financial program with lots of columns and landscape orientation.

I asked the customer why he was not using the HP software. He told me that he couldn't find the version for Solaris 10, so he assumed that HP no longer provided this support for Solaris.

This is an easy conclusion to come to if you are lucky enough to find the page on the HP website where you can download JetDirect. Here's the real story.

There is only one version of JetDirect software and it's SOLe134.PKG. This works for Solaris 2.5.1 through Solaris 10 (in the global zone).

It can be a challenge to find and it seems that the page changes often. There is one article on BigAdmin that contains a link to the download page.

Here's how to find the page everytime if the link shifts:

1. start at hp.com. Click the Software and driver downloads link. At that link "Download drivers and software (and firmware)" and search on: Printer Installer for Unix. NOTE: if you search on "Solaris", you will get a page that lists both JetDirect AND JetAdmin for Solaris. JetAdmin was EOL by HP in 2002.

2. This should give you a search page with a "HP JD Printer Installer for Solaris".

3. At the Printer Installer link, you will see a list of Solaris versions. Here's a tip: they are ALL the same and while Solaris 10 is not specifically listed, SOLe134.PKG will install and run in the global zone.

So why does HP hide this? HP has their own OS to support and, like any sort of search, knowing what to search FOR can make all the difference.

The customer I worked with had a working test queue up and running literally in minutes.

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