As we began our summer projects, it became clear that we were going to move ahead with Windows 8.1 in the student labs for the coming school year. This was going to bring about a whole host of changes we needed to make to the supporting servers and systems at Martin Luther College, but the one I have been working on the most has been our print and print accounting.
Moving away from our aging iPrint and Pcounter infrastructure was going to take some thinking on my part, but I didn’t have a clear path forward in the beginning. So I’m writing this blog post in the hopes that it can help someone else in the future who is working with the new Novell iPrint, Novell NetWare 6.5, and PaperCut for print accounting.
Here is an overview of how the system is setup now:
- All printers are created on the new iPrint 1.1 appliance. The drivers are then loaded for each platform and then associated with the printer.
- For those printers that need it, I create individual profiles so that we do not need to monkey around with settings for each individual printer. Granted, this affects a very small number of overall printers.
- When a print job is submitted through iPrint, the accounting is handled entirely by PaperCut through their iPrint integration. This is the part I need to setup again in the future when we upgrade the appliance.
- PaperCut handles making sure the proper account is debited by reading the username from the Novell Client login information sent through iPrint. It might sound complicated, but it works.
- Users can check their current account amounts through the user portal built into PaperCut. The administrative backend is also where we handled refunds and adding money to accounts.
This setup affords us some benefits I was not aware of at first.
- We no longer have to worry about popups for print jobs and amounts. We have email notifications setup to be sent off when accounts get low and people are pushed to the user portal for questions about how much print credit they have left.
- The iPrint appliance is currently not syncing with our primary eDirectory infrastructure. This has afforded us some time to move ahead with our migration to OES 11.2 at a slower pace instead of trying to push through the migration this summer (big win in my opinion). All user account syncing is handled by PaperCut.
- We’ve eliminated the old Pcounter application, so our help desk can eliminate a Windows XP VM we were using specifically for that application.
- Moving to the appliance allows us to easily move to newer versions in the future so we can keep in front of the technology curve. Until this summer we did not have the ability to move to Windows 8.1.
- Student printing from the residential network is being considered once again since the account and printing infrastructure is up-to-date and should allow us the flexibility needed to only open up iPrint for printing to institution-owned printers.
However, here are a list of things to watch out for:
- Make sure you open up port 9191 on your iPrint appliance by logging in as root through SSH and using YaST.
- Speaking of YaST, always check the Advanced options of an area. I spun my wheels for hours as I was troubleshooting the creating of printers between iPrint and PaperCut, only to find that my firewall settings were bad. I should have known, but I didn’t.
- Think through your directory structure. You will gain the most flexibility by using groups to differentiate user types, not their location within the directory tree. I am now planning our migration to do just that so we can move all of our printing through iPrint and PaperCut so that we are able to have better reporting.
- We are not using the mobile printing capabilities of iPrint at all right now, but we will probably need to consider it in the future. When the time comes, I will need to be on OES 11.2 to get away from some LDAP attributes missing from our eDirectory 8.7 installations on NetWare.
Overall, in the short time I have worked with it, I have been very happy with how iPrint and PaperCut are working for MLC. If you want more specifics about our installation and what we are doing (I’m really working hard to keep things as simple as possible), please let me know.
4 responses to “Integrating iPrint and PaperCut”
Hey Bob! I know we are playing with a trial of PaperCut. I want to implement it, and we will see if our school can support it here at Evergreen. It would make for much easier print management. No more asking the librarian to print student documents and pay her.
I’m happy with it so far, it will suit our needs well. One thing we have not looked into (but is on the horizon) is an online payment gateway so that students can add print credit to their accounts online without intervention from staff.
That falls into a category where I try and eliminate some of the bottlenecks for our staff to free them up to do more useful work around campus. This and password resets are the two areas I am working on right now.
We are using an iPrint server still so no Win 8.1 client option yet. It runs a secondary PaperCut with primary on CentOS – much faster than primary on iPrint and allows me to use crontab to schedule the running of server commands (e.g. free printing during class exams).
On the student print credits side, the student reception area sells preprinted $2 and $5 top-up cards and the student then loads the credit themselves.
Sounds similar to what we are doing. There has been some talk of moving PaperCut to the iPrint appliance, but I am happier just running it as a secondary server and letting PaperCut sit on a SLES 11 instance.
We are going to be looking at how we can enable the students to more easily add print credit to their accounts. I would like to go with a payment gateway so that they can just add the credit right there online, but for now we will just have them show up with cash until we’ve had some more time to think about things.