Wireless Printing/AirPrint Server via the Raspberry Pi

One of the first projects I wanted to attempt when I got my Raspberry Pi was to turn my wired Inkjet printer into a wireless printer. I managed to get it working so I thought I’d share the steps I went through.

Right, first things first, update the packages on your Pi:

sudo apt-get update
Next up, install all the packages required for printing. The following commands could be put on one line but I took the longer option of installing one package at a time.

sudo apt-get install avahi-daemon
sudo apt-get install avahi-discover
sudo apt-get install libnss-mdns
sudo apt-get install cups
sudo apt-get install cups-pdf
sudo apt-get install python-cups
It takes a while for the packages to install, so grab a cup of tea while you wait. Once everything has finished, you’ll need to add your username to the CUPS server so you’re able to add printers etc later on.

sudo usermod -aG lpadmin pi
Now, check that CUPS has installed correctly and that the service works (it stands for Common Unix Printing System and will let the Raspberry Pi act as a print server):

sudo /etc/init.d/cups start
You’ll need to check the Avahi service works too (it finds various devices on the network which are discoverable):

sudo /etc/init.d/avahi-daemon start
Next, you’ll need to edit the CUPS config file:

sudo nano /etc/cups/cupsd.conf
You’ll need to set-up the port we’re going to be listening on. Comment out the line that reads “Listen localhost:631″. Add in “Port 631″. It should look something like this:

#Listen localhost:631
Port 631
CUPS will need to be told to be used with any hostname, so it can work with AirPrint. The ServerAlias * directive needs to be added before the first occurence of

The config file will also need to be edited to control access to the server by adding “Allow @Local” in several places e.g.:

# Restrict access to the server…

Order allow,deny
Allow @Local
You need to include it in these areas of the config file:

# Restrict access to the server…
# Restrict access to the admin pages…
# Restrict access to configuration files…
Save the config file and restart the CUPS service:

sudo /etc/init.d/cups restart
Now, find the IP address of your Pi. It’ll be something like 192.168.1.x

ifconfig
Navigate the the CUPS configuration page by typing the IP address you just retrieved and the port number CUPS uses (so it’ll be an address like 192.168.1.x:631). A security exception message may pop up but that’s ok. Continue onwards!

Click on the Admin tab and view the server settings which are towards the right-hand side of the screen. Tick the box that says “share printers connected to this system”. At this stage, you’ll be asked for the username and password of the Raspberry Pi.

Plug your printer into one of the USB ports on the Pi. Click “add printer” in the CUPS web interface and it should appear under local printers. You’ll have to fill in details for the printer, such as name and location. You can enter whatever you want in here but the important part is ensuring you tick the “share this printer” box. Following this, you’ll have to select the appropriate printer driver from a (large) list that appears. Enter print and paper settings too. You’re now ready to click on maintenance > print test page. If everything has gone to plan, the test page will print successfully. You’re not done yet though….

You now need to set-up the Avahi service which will allow you to discover wireless printers on Apple devices. First, navigate to the opt directory, make a directory called airprint and move to it:

cd ../../opt
sudo mkdir airprint
cd airprint
Now, download the Python file which will help us generate the services we need:

sudo wget -O airprint-generate.py –no-check-certificate https://raw.github.com/tjfontaine/airprint-generate/master/airprint-generate.py
The permissions of the script need to be edited so it can be executed:

sudo chmod 755 airprint-generate.py
Generate the Avahi service and place the script in the appropriate folder:

sudo ./airprint-generate.py -d /etc/avahi/services
On generating the service I got the error shown below. This is fine if you don’t have any Apple devices running iOS6 but I’m willing to bet that most people with capable devices are running it.

image/urf is not in mime types, what_the_printer_is_called may not be available on ios6 (see https://github.com/tjfontaine/airprint-generate/issues/5)
To fix this issue, you’ll have to create 2 files in the /usr/share/cups/mime directory. These files will be called airprint.types and airprint.convs. Let’s start with airprint.types.

Use nano to create a new file and edit it:

sudo nano airprint.types
Insert the following into the airprint.types file:

#
# “$Id: $”
#
# AirPrint type
image/urf urf string(0,UNIRAST)
#
# End of “$Id: $”.
#
Again, use nano to create the second file:

sudo nano airprint.convs
Insert the following into airprint.convs

#
# “$Id: $”
#
# AirPrint
# Updated list with minimal set 25 Sept
image/urf application/pdf 100 pdftoraster
#
# End of “$Id: $”.
#
Restart the CUPS service now that changes have been made:

sudo service cups restart
The Python file which helped us generate services earlier needs to be re-downloaded to the opt/airprint directory

sudo wget https://raw.github.com/tjfontaine/airprint-generate/master/airprint-generate.py
Ensure that you’re in the airprint directory and regenerate the Avahi service (like before):

sudo ./airprint-generate.py -d /etc/avahi/services
Various files have been edited so I’d recommend that you reboot the Raspberry Pi around now. If you only have Apple devices, that’s it, you’re done- hopefully, everything should work. In my experience, I’ve found that the printer can be a little laggy and sometimes, it just doesn’t bother printing certain jobs from my iPhone. Don’t let that put you off though- most of the time it works as expected. I’ve had no problems printing from my laptop or iPad.

INTERMISSION

Now, I’m aware some of you will want to use the Raspberry Pi to print from Windows machine. If you want to do this, you’ve got a few more steps to go. Before I go any further, I’ll say that I tested this with Windows XP only- things might be easier with Windows Vista/7/8. Maybe things will need to be done slightly differently, I don’t know.

Install Samba on the Raspberry Pi which allows cross-platform file/printer sharing (basically allows Linux and Windows file systems to connect to each other)

sudo apt-get install samba
Navigate to the samba config file which can be found at- /etc/samba/smb.conf. Ensure it contains the following data:

# CUPS printing. See also the cupsaddsmb(8) manpage in the
# cupsys-client package.
printing = cups
printcap name = cups
[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 = /usr/share/cups/drivers
browseable = yes
read only = yes
guest ok = no

INTERMISSION

You’re now finished with the Raspberry Pi. Again, I’d reboot it anyway, just to ensure that all appropriate files are running with the configuration that you’ve entered.

So, you want to print in Windows, eh? Here it goes-

I’ll reiterate, I used Windows XP. Things might be different in Vista/7/8

Install the drivers for your printer

Navigate to My Computer > View workgroup computers > Raspberrypi server > Printername

A few dialogue boxes may appear but they should be ok

Select the appropriate driver from the list of printer drivers that appears and click ok

The printer attached to the Raspberry Pi will now appear in the control panel under printers and faxes

My printer constantly displays “access denied, unable to connect” but it still works anyway (I’ve got no idea why)

Finally, try and print something- the new printer will appear in the list of available printers. Fingers crossed, you should now be able to print from Windows too!

This tutorial is based on content from a few other sources:
Configuring the Raspberry Pi as an AirPrint Server
iOS6 Doesn’t Recognise CUPS Print Shares
Printserver for Windows Clients

Edit- I’ve noticed this tutorial was ripped to shreds by a user on Reddit earlier in the year, so I thought I’d clarify a few things. The distro I used was Raspbian (my previous posts about my Raspberry Pi show the version I used). Technically the tutorial is not Raspberry Pi specific and should work on other Debian distros too however, the Pi is neat wee computer to turn into a print server. Yes, I typed “sudo apt-get install” multiple times, instead of installing packages using just the one line, but I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I was a Linux n00b at the time.

On the positive side, thank you to everyone who has posted comments about the guide on my blog :). I must have done something right if so many of you got wireless printing to work! A few of you have mentioned that some of the packages are no longer necessary when setting up the printer- I’m considering putting an updated guide together to make it easier for folks.

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