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What Is Network Printing?

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

What Is Network Printing?

In this section

Network printing is the collection of software components in Windows Server 2003 that provide network printing services for client computers. In addition to providing services to clients running versions of the Windows operating system, Windows Server 2003 can provide network printing services to client computers running other operating systems when the appropriate components are installed.

In some small offices, it might be practical to have a printer attached to every computer, but in an organization consisting of more than a few computers, sharing printing resources is desirable. Larger organizations with many users might be spread out over a large area and consist of multiple computing platforms. Windows Server 2003 gives you options for printing to remote printers in a variety of network configurations and from a variety of computing platforms.

Running on a variety of client platforms, applications send print jobs to printers that are connected to a print server running Windows Server 2003. The printer can be connected to the print server through internal network adapters, external network adapters, or another server. This subject discusses the nature and action of components involved in providing network printing services on Windows Server 2003.

Common Printing Scenarios

With network printing services in Windows Server 2003, you can provide printing services for a variety of client operating systems, including non-Windows operating systems and older versions of Windows. The following scenarios describe the printing services provided by Windows Server 2003 to various client platforms.

Printing From Client Computers Running Windows 2000 and Windows XP

Client computers running Windows 2000 or Windows XP are able to send print jobs to print servers running Windows Server 2003 with no additional software. They are also able to use the Active Directory directory service to locate print devices with the capabilities and location that the user desires.

Printing From Client Computers Running Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT

Client computers running Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT can use Windows Server 2003 network printing services without adding software. However, to use Active Directory to search for print devices, these clients must have Active Directory Client Extensions installed.

In Windows Server 2003, printer drivers for client computers running Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium Edition can be installed on the print server. When a client then connects to the server, it downloads the drivers from the server and begins printing.

Printing From Client Computers Running Other Microsoft Operating Systems

Client computers running Windows 3.x and MS-DOS operating systems use their own printer drivers. Clients with these systems can get a list of all available printers in a domain but cannot use Active Directory. These clients can print to a print server running Windows Server 2003 if a local printer is installed and the local port is redirected to the shared printer on the print server running Windows Server 2003.

Printing From UNIX-Based Clients

Computers running UNIX-based operating systems, and other systems that use the client program line printer remote (LPR), can send printing jobs to the receiving utility, line printer daemon (LPD), on a print server running Windows Server 2003. LPR clients must comply with Request for Comments (RFC) 1179. For more information about LPR, see RFC 1179 in the IETF RFC Database.

The combination of the LPR and LPD was developed for UNIX-based computers, but it is widely used for many operating systems. Both utilities are included in Print Services for UNIX.

Printing From NetWare Clients

With File and Print Services for NetWare installed on a print server running Windows Server 2003, the server appears to a NetWare client as a NetWare 3.x–compatible file and print server. File and Print Services presents the same dialog boxes to the client as a NetWare-based server uses to process a print job from a client. A user can display and search for printers on the print server running Windows Server 2003 just like in a NetWare environment.

Printing From Macintosh Clients

Macintosh clients can send print jobs to a print server that is running Windows Server 2003 when Print Server for Macintosh is installed on the server. To the Macintosh-based client, the server appears to be an AppleTalk printer on the network, and no reconfiguration of the client is necessary.

Dependencies and Interactions

The following software components might be required to provide print services to clients, depending on the client platform.

  • Active Directory Client Upgrade. Clients that are running Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Millennium Edition can use Windows Server 2003 network printing services without adding software. However, to use Active Directory for a printer search, these clients must have Active Directory Client Extensions installed.

  • Network Redirector. Computers running MS-DOS, Windows 3.0, and Windows 3.1 send documents for printing to local ports. To print to network print servers, clients running these operating systems require a network redirector for printing. A redirector is not necessary for Microsoft Windows for Workgroups because the redirector is built in. In these cases, install Microsoft Network Client 3.0 for MS-DOS or Windows 3.x.

  • Print Services for UNIX. To accept printing jobs from LPR clients, Windows Server 2003 must have the LPD service installed. LPD is provided by Print Services for UNIX.

  • File and Print Services for NetWare. To accept printing jobs from NetWare clients, Windows Server 2003 must have the File and Print Services for NetWare installed.

  • Print Server for Macintosh. To accept printing jobs from AppleTalk clients, like a Macintosh computer, Windows Server 2003 must have the Print Server for Macintosh installed.

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