When printing with Linux is there an alternative to using CUPS?

After using it for a couple of weeks printing suddenly stopped working. The 'processing' light would come on and that would be the end. CUPS would list the job as finished. I cannot find any solution that works.

  • 5
    Can you add to your question the reason why you need an alternative, as it may help in generating answers. – Rory Alsop Aug 7 '11 at 21:09
  • I assume you've checked the logs to see what the problem is? You don't want to go to all the trouble of replacing your printing subsystem only to find out the problem is elsewhere... – Cry Havok Aug 7 '11 at 21:32
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    Some day.... there might be one: printerd. – sr_ Aug 9 '12 at 19:05

There are two traditional printing interfaces in the unix world: lp (the System V interface) and lpr (the BSD interface). There are three printing systems available on Linux: the traditional BSD lpr, the newer BSD system LPRng, and CUPS. LPRng and CUPS both provide a BSD-style interface and a System-V-style interface.

Nowadays, CUPS is the de facto standard printing system for unix; it's the default or only system under Mac OS X and most Linux distributions as well as recent versions of Solaris, and it's available as a package on all major BSD distributions. Nonetheless your distribution may provide lpr and LPRng, typically in packages with these names.

CUPS has better support for input and output filters (automatically converting various input format, giving access to printer features such as paper source selection and double-sided printing). If you install an alternative, you're likely to need to tune them quite a bit to get these extra features working. And there's no guarantee that these systems will work better than CUPS anyway. So I'd recommend fixing whatever's broken (given your description, it could be the printer itself!).


Three or four times I've had my CUPS driven printer quit, with the `pending' or other such problems and I've never fixed the printer until I've installed a new Linux. I am not stupid but it makes me feel stupid that I can't figure out how in hell to fix CUPS once it's gone wrong. I want something different or have the CUPS geniuses damn well tell you how to reset the damn thing.


In the making is printerd very very beta at the mo, worth a mention though,

  • Unfortunately, as of 2017 printerd is dead for nearly two years. – Marcus Mar 27 '17 at 20:48

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