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Application Review

CUPS (Common UNIX Printing System)
Review by: Craig Miller – 01/22/11
OS Reviewed on: eComStation 2.0
Audio: Uniaud16 V1.9.5 & Uniaud32 V2.1.1
Video Card Driver: SNAP, version 3 (eCS 2.0 package)

Year: 2010
Version: 1.3.11
Application Type: Printer Drivers
Developed by: www.cups.org
Ported by: Paul Smedley

Homepage Link: Click Here
Wikipedia Link: Click Here

Manual

Download CUPS now!
This version over time will be updated and will not be the same version as reviewed.


(1) Introduction:

CUPS is the software you use to print from applications like the web browser you are using to read this page. It converts the page descriptions produced by your application (put a paragraph here, draw a line there, and so forth) into something your printer can understand and then sends the information to the printer for printing.

Now, since every printer manufacturer does things differently, printing can be very complicated. CUPS does its best to hide this from you and your application so that you can concentrate on printing and less on how to print. Generally, the only time you need to know anything about your printer is when you use it for the first time, and even then CUPS can often figure things out on its own.

CUPS provides a portable printing layer for UNIX-based operating systems and is developed and maintained by Apple, Inc. CUPS is the standard printing system used on the MacOS X and most Linux Distributions. It is also the main printing system for eCS that will allow us to use most of today's printers.

I personally have not had a printer on eCS for a long, long time. I just have never needed it nor had drivers for a printer I had. This is exciting since I want to turn my eCS machine into the computer I do all my work on. To do this, I need to print out files. So here I am, hopeful this is not to difficult, because honestly, I don't have the patience.

So lets see if I can get my Epson Workforce 610 working!

(2) Installation:

The CUPS file for eCS is 66.1 megs and thankfully in WarpIn format. After Downloading CUPS, I installed all the files needed to the recommend location that CUPS asked for, meaning it made a folder on the C: Drive called CUPS. A new folder then appeared on my desktop called eCUPS Documents with two files: eCUPS How To and eCUPS Readme.

Notice that the CUPS version is reading 1.3.11 from the WarpIn installer. I do not think this is a misprint since after Firefox boots up with the welcome screen, it's also showing 1.3.11, I guess the WarpIn Installer was not updated with the .zip, what a shame. When I started this review I had it setup for 1.4.4, I now have to change that. Too bad because I really like to review the newest version.

My Firefox browser started with the CUPS welcome screen (http://localhost:631), this is where you configure the printer settings.

(3) Startup:

As you can see in the above screen you have a few choices. I wanted to get printing so I went straight to Add Printer.

I hit continue and it found my device on the first round!

It took a few seconds for the screen to take me to the next menu after I hit continue, I almost hit the cancel button and refresh but right when I was about to it went to the Set Printer screen and telling me the printer was successfully setup!

Everything looked good here and so there was one more place to look to make sure the printer was working properly. The last tab in the settings is Printers, I wanted to make sure it was showing up there and I could print a test page.


Awesomeness!


Double Awesomeness!

So I am printing via the test page. So now can I print from OpenOffice or even Firefox via normal modes?


Not so awesome.

(4) The Program:

So everything looks like it has been installed. It seems easy, so what am I missing? Time to do some reading. The read me is very straight forward, to have eCS see a printer we need to add it via the Printers folder.

Before we begin though I have to admit I used part of the help me file's text in this part of the review since it would be the same thing and just edited places I had issues with.

I double-clicked the 'install printer' object in the printers folder and select local printer or Open the Desktop -> Templates folder and drag the Printer template to the Desktop to start the Create printer routine. Press the 'install new printer driver' button. Select 'other eComstation printer driver'. Enter \os2\dll\ecups in the directory field and click Refresh in order to see the list of printers.

You have to type it in, I tried to use the “find” button and it would not find the file. When I typed c:\os2\dll\ecups it found the drivers. Remember that and you save yourself some time.

Press OK to load the driver. Now change the printer name field to something reasonable from "printer" that is currently in the field and press the create key and your printer object will be created and the install dialog will close (but you haven't finished yet ....).

Open the properties of your new printer object and select the "printer driver" tab, make sure the new driver is highlighted in both boxes.

You can press the job properties button as this point if you wish but you'll find the settings are the same as you set when you created the printer in the CUPS admin webpage. If you look at the properties of the Printer driver you can also set some printer parameters. In general I leave these areas as they are.

Now press on the "output port" tab and press install new port:

Because you put the eCUPS Port Driver into OS2\DLL earlier, you will now get a whole lot of CUPS drivers to chose from - simply highlight CUPS1 and press "install"

Double click the new port driver and you will get its configuration panel - this is where we link the OS/2 print system to the CUPS print system! - The first field says "localhost", leave that as it is as the printer is connected to this PC - if it was connected to CUPS running on another PC, you could put that PCs IP address or hostname in here. What is important is the second field - this is the name of the printer within the CUPS configuration - you'll see I have loaded up the CUPS web admin page in manage printer to show you this - in this case the name is "Epson_Workforce_610". Press "save properties" and close the printer setup panels and you are finished.

So I think I am done, it seems like a lot and compared to a windows machine it is, but if you focus on the install then it's not that bad. I you look at the above window I did not read everything, I thought I was going to hook up to a USB port, well that did not work at all and I needed to re-read the help me file. Annoying yes, but it was my own fault.

So, after I installed the CUPS driver what did I get, well I printed this file in OpenOffice...


One ugly picture from my cell phone but one great print!

(5) Final Thoughts:

I have worked with worse installs, showing the CUPS install is not that hard. Using a printer that is still being sold, and not 5 years old for eCS, I will call this a major success. I am bummed that even though version 1.4.4 is out, the WarpIn file is only at 1.3.11. I know I can download the .zip file but why use that if there is a WarpIn version? I hope this gets updated soon, even though I had no real issues getting the printer going, some people might, so why not updated it for everyone?

From some tests against Windows XP, I could tell that printing from windows was faster, not by a whole lot but it was noticeable. I'm not sure if that is just CUPS, eCS, or something on my computer, perhaps newer versions will address this.

A small thing I would like to see is the eCUPS.INF (Help File) cleaned up. The walk though is very good but it's all on one page. It would be nice if on the left hand side there were links to different parts of the help file. It would be a time saver. Also, it's hughe, over 12 megs(!), I'm sure it's from all the screen shots, I doubt they are compressed pictures but they need to be, that small fix could easily half the size.

One note, I have tried printing from a few programs and I could not ask for anything better and everything worked, the one kink is Firefox 3.5.3. You cannot print directly, you press print and it will make the item into a pdf., after that you can print normally. It is one extra step that I hope is removed soon. From what I have heard, newer versions (of Firefox) fix this problem. I am waiting for the Gold version of Firefox 4 to find out.

Either way though, CUPS is well developed and works great. I wish I had 1.4.4 but that is just me crying for the newest version to review. 1.3.11 worked great after I got things setup. Just follow the instructions and don't get ahead of yourself (like I did).

Paul Smedley did a great job porting CUPS to eCS and we cannot thank him enough (though I'm sure he would not mind some $$$).

(6) Updates after the review:

07-10-11V1.4.7 is out.

02-07-11 - Paul Smedley has ported CUPS version 1.4.5 (dated 11/21/2010, but posted on 2/2/2011), as well as Gutenprint 5.2.6 (11/21/2010), HP-LIP version 3.10.2 (5/3/2010), Splix version 1.1.1 (12/26/2008), Foomatic version 4.05 (9/26/2010), and foo2qpdl (6/28/2010). Also available (4/10/2009) is a CUPS port driver, which allows interfacing the standard OS/2 printing subsystem with CUPS.

01-22-11 – I was told that there is a mailing list for eCUPS here:

http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.org.netlabs.ecups.devel

01-22-11 – I have learned that Pete Brown created the .wpi package, not Paul Smedley. For whatever reason, he hasn't updated the WarpIn package to the latest CUPS, gutenprint, port driver, etc. Hopefully he will soon.

01-22-11 - Alex Taylor is also looking at creating some kind of wizard to ease the installation of CUPS - particularly the creation of the OS/2 printer object. Nice, this with the update to WarpIn and we have a kick ass CUPS install!