System Administration Guide: Printing

Printing Support in the Naming Service Switch

The printers database in /etc/nsswitch.conf, the naming service switch file, provides centralized printer configuration information to print clients on the network.

By including the printers database and corresponding sources of information in the naming service switch file, print clients automatically have access to printer configuration information without having to add it to their own systems.

The default printers entry in the /etc/nsswitch.conf file for files, LDAP, NIS, or NIS+ environments are described in the following table.

naming service Type 

Default printers Entry


printers: user files


printers: user files ldap


printers: user files nis

For example, if your naming service is NIS, printer configuration information on print clients is searched for in the following sources in this order:

For more information, see the nsswitch.conf(4) man page and System Administration Guide: Naming and Directory Services (DNS, NIS, and LDAP).

Adding Printer Information to a Naming Service

Adding printer information to a naming service makes access to printers available to all systems on the network. Doing so makes printer administration easier because all of the information about printers is centralized.

Naming Service Configuration 

Actions to Centralize Printer Information 

Use a naming service 

Adding the printer to the LDAP, NIS, or NIS+ database makes the printer available to all systems on the network. 

Do not use a naming service 

Adding the printer adds the printer information to the printer server's configuration files only. Print clients will not automatically know about the printer. 

You will have to add the printer information to every print client that needs to use the printer.