System Administration Guide: Printing

Print Server Requirements and Recommendations

You can attach a printer to a stand-alone system or to any system on the network. Any networked system with a printer can be a print server, as long as the system has adequate resources to manage the printing load.

Spooling Space

Spooling space is the amount of disk space that is used to store and process requests in the print queue. Spooling space is the single most important factor to consider when deciding which systems to designate as print servers. When users submit files for printing, the files are stored in the /var/spool/lp directory until the files are printed. The size of the /var directory depends on the size of the disk and how the disk is partitioned. Spooling space can be allocated in the /var directory on the print server, or mounted from a file server and accessed over the network.

Note –

If /var is not created as a separate file system, the /var directory uses space in the root (/) file system. The root (/) file system is likely to be insufficient on a print server.

Disk Space

When evaluating systems as possible print servers, consider their available disk space. A large spool directory can consume 600 Mbytes of disk space. Evaluate the size and division of disk space on systems that can be designated as print servers.

Also, carefully evaluate the printing needs and use patterns of print client systems. For example, assume that users in a small group typically print only short email messages, which are simple ASCII files without sophisticated formatting requirements. In this example, a print server with 20 to 25 Mbytes of disk space allocated to the /var directory is probably sufficient. If, however, many print client users are printing large documents, bit mapped images, or raster images, the users will likely fill the spooling space quite frequently. When users cannot queue their jobs for printing, work flow is interrupted. Requests for more spooling space can force you to either add disk space for spooling or designate a different system as the print server.

If the print server has a /var directory that is too small, and a larger file system is available, you can mount the larger file system on the /var directory for additional spooling space. For information about mounting file systems and editing the vfstab file, see Mounting File Systems in System Administration Guide: Devices and File Systems.

Memory Requirements

A print server does not require additional memory. However, you might find that more memory improves performance in managing print requests.

Swap Space

The swap space allocation on the print server should be sufficient to handle LP print service requirements. For information about how to increase swap space, see Chapter 20, Configuring Additional Swap Space (Tasks), in System Administration Guide: Devices and File Systems.

Hard Disk

For optimal performance, the print server should have a hard disk and a local /var directory. You should mount spooling space for a print server on a local hard disk. If a print server has its own hard disk and a local /var directory, printing is much faster. And, you can more accurately predict the time needed to process print requests.