Jaguar Printing Woes

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 20th, 2003 • 2:24 am

Since I had to reinstall 10.2.3 over 10.2.4 the other day and use the “Archive and Install” option, I also had to recreate my printers. This made me experience once again how painful it can be to get printers running properly in Jaguar.

I have two printers: an old HP LaserJet 5MP that works like a charm and is hooked up to my Ethernet LAN through an AsantéTalk box, and a more recent HP cp1700, which is an large-format inkjet printer.

Jaguar has no problems with the LaserJet. It shows up in AppleTalk and Jaguar comes with the necessary printer description files, so no installation of third-party software is needed.

The cp1700 is another story. Mine includes a network card that consists of a JetDirect server with an Ethernet port, so that the printer can be put on the Ethernet LAN. It also has a USB connection that can be used to connect it directly to my G4, but normally I don’t use it.

The problems start right here. Because the cp1700 is “normally” a USB printer and only a network-ready printer with an Ethernet port through the addition of the JetDirect card, it is not included by Apple in the printer profiles that are included in the system for AppleTalk printers. In other words, when you select the cp1700 in AppleTalk, where it shows up if it’s hooked to the network through the JetDirect card, then “HP CP 1700” is not one of the options listed under “HP” in the list of printer models.

In fact, the printer description file for this printer is only installed when you install the HP InkJet software, which is normally intended for USB printers. And the “HP Inkjet Utility” program that comes with the software and lets you change printer settings only works if the printer is connected via USB.

The key thing, according to HP, is that adding the printer via AppleTalk will work just the same… Somehow, mysteriously and miraculously, adding the printer in AppleTalk and letting the Print Center decide what model it is automatically will lead to the creation of an AppleTalk HP cp1700 printer that does use the printer description file installed by the HP inkjet software for USB printers. Mmm.

The problem is that I did just that this afternoon, because re-installing 10.2.3 had wiped out my printers. After selecting the printer in “AppleTalk”, I was greated with the spinning pizza of death, which kept churning out for almost a minute. This is on a dual G4 1.25 GHz with gobs of RAM. Embarrassing.

The printer finally showed up. But when I tried to use it to print my color document, it didn’t work. The print job appeared briefly in the print queue for the HP cp1700 connected via AppleTalk, and then disappeared, and the printer did nothing. Mmm.

I tried restarting my G4. I tried sending the print job as PDF from another program. To no avail. I tried trashing pref files (but I couldn’t really find any that appeared relevant). I couldn’t find any “spool” files that might have corrupted the print queue, because I have no idea where they might be. Still the jobs came and went and nothing happened. No error messages. Nothing. Nothing displayed on the printer display itself either. It was just gleefully saying “READY” all the time.

Out of desperation, I decided to revert back to USB for this particular job, because I couldn’t wait any longer. I connected the cp1700 via USB to my G4, and it automatically appeared in the printer list (who needs Rendezvous?). I sent the print job to it and… the print queue stopped. I restarted the print queue. It stopped again. There was no way to get the print queue going.

I restarted the G4 again, because I have noticed over time and with various Macs and USB devices that USB-related issues can sometimes be solved through a restart. But it didn’t solve this problem. At that stage I was cursing Jaguar. I had deleted the printer and re-added it to the printer list a dozen times. I had tried sending the job several times. Still same thing. “Queue stopped”. Why? No idea. No indication. No clue.

I finally remembered that the printer was still connected to my network via Ethernet, even though I had not added it as an AppleTalk printer to my printer list. So I disconnected the Ethernet connection. I also reinstalled the HP inkjet software from the latest installer I had (2.0f). And somehow, miraculously, it worked. The printer was printing again. I printed my document.

Then I unplugged the USB connection again and reconnected the Ethernet cable. The printer showed up in “AppleTalk” again, and I added it. I went back to Word for a test and sent a print job with a few words in color. It worked.

What got it working again? I’m not sure. Either reinstalling the HP software or disconnecting the Ethernet connection temporarily. Whatever it was, it took me 1/2 hr to fix it. Annoying. Why wasn’t it working in the first place? I don’t know.

Too many “I don’t know”s here. Too much fickleness in Jaguar when it comes to printing. (And of course, in the process of restarting my machine a couple of times, Jaguar managed to mysteriously “forget” a number of my system settings, such as the variant of font smoothing I’m using and a couple of other things. I can’t believe that they still haven’t fixed what causes OS X to forget its settings all the time.)

Will Rendezvous remedy all this? I have doubts. The problem was not with the computer “seeing” the printer. It was with getting the print queue working once the printer had been added to the printer list. First it would eat my print jobs and do nothing, then it would stop the print queue all the time.

Besides, I doubt that my printers will be Rendezvous-compatible any time soon. My LaserJet 5 MP is just too old for this, and I haven’t heard anything from HP yet suggesting that they might provide a firmware update for the cp1700 that makes it Rendezvous-ready.

The point is, printing in Jaguar can still be a major pain — and I was reminded of this in a very frustrating way today. I am also reminded of it every time I try to use my Dymo LabelWriter 310 to print a mailing label and the print queue stops because Classic is running. Why does the print queue for the Dymo in OS X’s Print Center stop when Classic is running? I don’t know. But it does. Fortunately, restarting the print queue causes the job to go through. But still… Too many printing woes in Jaguar.

(I checked the list of printers supported by the open source CUPS architecture. the cp1700 is nowhere to be seen. Don’t have much hope for the Dymo either.)

2 Responses to “Jaguar Printing Woes”

  1. Mike says:


    I am glad that I ran across your posting on LaserJet 5MP and printing woes. I am experiencing exactly this with Mac OS X.3.2!! I still havent gotten resolution yet. The computer sees the printer but the print queue just wont cooperate. I will try to disconnect/reconnect my AppleTalk line. I am using an AsanteTalk box as well.

    Any update on this issue? How durable was your temporary fix?


  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Actually, my problem at the time was with the cp1700, not with the 5MP. The cp1700 does not go through the AsantéTalk. But I have had problem with my AsantéTalk and the 5MP since then:

    AsantéTalk Voodoo

    Not sure if this will help you more…

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