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Amalgamate printer queues from load-balanced print servers
on 14 August 2020 01:13 PM

Is there a way in PaperCut to amalgamate printer queues, that is to make identically-named print queues from different servers appear under the same “printer” in PaperCut?

Maybe your organization is clustering your print servers, and you’ve set up two print servers with identical print queues. Now what you see in PaperCut is two or more print queues like this:

  • Printserver1\library-color
  • Printserver2\library-color

While this is functional, it does pose a challenge for PaperCut administrators who now have to configure twice as many print queues. Also when running reports, print totals and history will be split across two separate queues. (If you have duplicate print queues after renaming your migrating your print server, and you want to get rid of one of them, you probably want to look at this article on renaming printers instead.

One solution to this problem is to edit a configuration file on each of the redundant print servers to specify an alias. We have to warn you that this solution was introduced in the early days of PaperCut and we’ve since discovered it is not compatible with certain features like Web Print, Find-Me Printing, or Hardware Page Validation. As a result we cannot recommend this configuration for most installations. Proceed with caution.

A Server Aliasing Example

We’ll explain by example how server aliasing can be useful:

Environment:

  • Two print servers (to distribute load and/or act as a backup).
  • Both servers have the same set of physical printers installed under matching/identical names.
  • This example assumes both servers run Windows, but the concept can equally be applied to Mac and Linux.

Normal Setup in PaperCut:

  • Each server would report their printers to the central server.
  • Printers are prefixed by the server name (server\printer) so we have separate printers for each queue on each server.

Aliased setup in PaperCut:

  • Aim: Force one server or servers to report itself as the same name as the other server.
  • On one of the servers, set the ServerName= property in the file:
    C:\Program Files\PaperCut NG\providers\print\win\print-provider.conf
  • Now jobs from this server will list under the same name as the other server.
  • Jobs will now appear under the one printer name in PaperCut. The old queues can be deleted.

Exceptions & Known Issues

Many PaperCut features might not work properly when the servername alias has been set.

  • Find-Me Printing or Secure Print Release especially in busy environments, as other user’s print jobs may be inadvertently released. Why? Because when a job is held by PaperCut, it is tracked using the Job ID and a server name. It’s possible that two servers may be holding print jobs with identical Job IDs, which means if the user releases their print job and it has a Job ID of 123, any other server with an identical alias will also release any held jobs with that matching ID.
  • Filters and Conversions (such as forced grayscale, forced duplex, or Watermarking) for the same reasons as above, other user’s print jobs on different servers with matching Job IDs may inadvertently be filtered or converted.
  • Printer in error alerts will no longer identify the correct server.
  • Hardware page count validation will not work when there are identical print queues on two servers and the server names are aliased, as both servers will be attempting to read the printer’s meter at the same time and will get confused.
  • This setting can cause issues with Web Print, specifically jobs will fail with the error Cannot access network printer ‘\\server\printer’ from ‘system’ account

Q Are there other ways to merge printers in PaperCut?

If this article doesn’t quite match your situation, but you are still looking to combine/merge/amalgamate printers in PaperCut then check out the section on printers in our article on merging data.