Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Vignudelli S., Martinelli M., Zaccagnini S. On the installation and configuration of a printserver in a multi-platform computing environment. A case study at the Istituto di Elaborazione della Informazione - Italian National Research Council. Internal note ISTI-20/2000. Internal note IEI-B4-20, 2000.
Printing costs represent a significant part of computing budgets, especially since printers can be shared on the network. The solution to this problem is therefore to track and eventually limit their use. A print server-based solution may reduce the workload for administrators by making it unnecessary to have install, maintain and upgrade the software components (e.g., printer drivers) for different client platforms. We will describe a case study at the Istituto di Elaborazione della Informazione, a research organization characterized by an heterogeneous computing and network environment. The first step was to decide on the most appropriate operating system among those running currently at the Institute. We opted for the Microsoft Windows NT platform because it can interface a wide variety of operating systems (e.g., Microsoft Windows family, Unix, Apple) and it has a user friendly administration. We verified that Microsoft Windows, Unix, and AppIe Macintosh clients were all able to print successfully using this print server. We also investigated the problem of monitoring printing usage for a high-cost colour printer. This problem was addressed by installing the printer as AppleTalk device and preventing Macintosh clients from accessing it directly by setting the "capture" option on the Windows NT side. Furthermore, the TCP/lP protocol was shutdown on the printing device so that all clients could send print jobs only via the print server. By using a freeware utility known as "Print Logger" we were able to extract and save print event details from the Microsoft Windows NT logging files. These data were processed automatically by using a Microsoft Excel macro which provided a table showing the monthly printing activity for each single user. However, this procedure does not completely solve the security problem because neither Unix and Apple Macintosh clients provide native mechanisms supporting user-Ievel access for printing. Therefore, at the present, a secure access control as well as usage monitoring of printing resources can only be achieved for Microsoft Windows clients. Although not definitive, the print server strategy adopted at our institute represents an economic and easy-to-manage solution allowing Macintosh, Unix and Windows clients to share network printers.
Subject Printserver
Apple Macintosh
Microsoft Windows NT
C.2.2 Network Protocols
C.5.5 Servers
K.6.2 Installation Management

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