I drove into North St. Louis tonight. The computer lab I set up at Bethlehem Lutheran needed some maintenance. It turned out to be very minor maintenance (fortunately)–their HP LaserJet 1200 printer had come unshared from the Win98 box that hosts it, so none of the other PCs could print. So I reshared the printer, connected the rest of the machines to it again, and printed test pages. It worked. I did a little more cleanup since I was there. These computers live a hard life. Fortunately, they’re completely standard microATX systems so getting parts for them will be easy and cheap.
I really need to set up a Linux box to host the printer though. If the printers were hosted by a keyboardless, headless Linux box, they couldn’t come unshared. A Samba print server takes me about an hour to set up, so it’d be a good investment of time. And I’d have my choice of 486s to do it with. I showed one of their staff how to share out a printer just in case it happens again.
They have a second printer as well, an HP DeskJet 660 donated by one of their field workers, and I was going to hook it up but I couldn’t find the stash of cables I used to have up there. I had a parallel cable out in my car for the longest time too, but I went out there, tore my car apart, and couldn’t find it. I must have given it to someone at some point. So I’ll be making another trip up there next week after I run across one. The DeskJet is just there for backup purposes.
The choice of HP printers may make some people curious. The DeskJet was donated. The 1200 is just a really fast, really inexpensive printer. I know Lexmark has something comparable now, but at the time we bought the 1200, there wasn’t much else in its class. It’s a very solid printer. HP’s not the best about providing new drivers when operating systems come out, but there’s a dirty little secret that apparently people don’t want to talk about (or maybe they don’t know). You can always use an older HP printer driver with newer printers. I could run both the 1200 and the DeskJet off an old LaserJet II driver. Microsoft always provides drivers for some of the classic HP printers. In a pinch, I run laser printers off a LaserJet 4 or LaserJet 5 driver. On high-end printers I lose the ability to select trays, but on a low-end printer like the 1200, I won’t lose a thing. So if you can’t find a driver, try the closest match you can find, and fall back on a lowest-common denominator like a LaserJet II if that fails.