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What are the necessary steps to change the default printer for individual users on a reasonably recent Linux system using CUPS? (i.e. not the system-wide default)

The CUPS lpr manpage indicates that setting the PRINTER environment variable is looked to first by the printing system. But does this also affect the default printer for GNOME & KDE applications?

Does this also override whatever the user has changed by going to, for instance, the 'Printing' setup application in Ubuntu? Or the equivalent in RHED?

How can I cover all my bases?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can use lpoptions. See man lpoptions.

The command looks like

lpoptions -d myprinter

and creates a line in ~/.lpoptions (or on some systems ~/.cups/lpoptions) like

Default myprinter

See Command-Line Printing and Options, section "Setting the Default Printer".

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