Adding Serial Printers at AIX 4


About this document
    Related documentation
Configuring a local printer and adding a queue
Testing the print queue
Troubleshooting serial port problems
Files changed when adding an AIX 4 local queue
Configuring a printer without adding a queue

About this document

This document describes how to configure a printer device and one or more print queues. Use this procedure to connect a printer directly to a serial port or adapter on the local host. This procedure applies to native serial ports, 8-port adapters, 16-port adapters, 64-port adapters and 128-port adapters. With some modifications, it also applies to P10 style printer ports on the IBM 7318 Network Communications Server.

This document applies to AIX Version 4.x.

Related documentation

The AIX and product documentation library is also available:

NOTE: If you only want to configure a printer without adding a print queue, do not use this procedure. See the section "Configuring a printer without adding a queue" in this document.


  1. Read the documentation for your printer. Printer-specific information may be needed to connect and configure the printer.
  2. A serial port must be available on the system.

  3. # lsdev -Cc printer will show the configured printer devices.

  4. You must have root authority.

Configuring a local printer and adding a queue

  1. Determine communications parameters for baud rate, stop bits, parity, bits per character, and flow control. Hardware or DTR flow control is highly recommended if at all possible. Set up the printer using these characterstics based on the printer documentation.
  2. Connect the printer to the local host by performing the following steps:
  3. Enter the SMIT fastpath:
  4. Select the attachment type local.
  5. Select the manufacturer of the printer.

  6. If the manufacturer of your printer is not listed,

  7. Select the printer model.

  8. If your printer model is not listed,

  9. If prompted, select the Add NEW Printer option.

  10. If you already have a printer added, select the device to which you want to add the queue.

  11. Select the type of printer interface.
  12. Select the parent adapter. Choices will look something like this:
  13. Fill in queue names in the following screen (number and type of emulation will vary based on printer type selected). Print queue names that are six characters or less in length are suggested because this is the queue length displayed with the queue status commands.
  14. The communication parameters must match those previously set up on the printer.

                                   Add a Print Queue
    Type or select values in entry fields.
    Press Enter AFTER making all desired changes.
                                                            [Entry Fields]        
      Description                                         IBM 4029 LaserPrinter   
      Names of NEW print queues to add
         ASCII                                           [ascp0]
         GL Emulation                                    [gllp0]                       
         PCL Emulation                                   [pclp0]                       
         PostScript                                      [pslp0]                       
         IBM 5587 G01 Japanese Data Stream Emulation by  []
      Printer connection characteristics
    *    PORT number                                     [s2]      
         BAUD rate                                       [9600]   
         PARITY                                          [none]  
         BITS per character                              [8]    
         Number of STOP BITS                             [1]   
         FLOW CONTROL to be used                         [dtr]
         Printer TIME OUT period (seconds)               [600] 
         STATE to be configured at boot time              available 
    NOTE: If the printer supports more than one type of print data, such as PostScript and ASCII, enter a print queue name for each print data type.

  15. Review and change the remaining attributes as necessary.
  16. Select Do or hit the Enter key to add the printer.
  17. When the printer and print queues have been created successfully their names are displayed. Be sure to note any error messages.
  18. Select Exit and then enter the SMIT fastpath to customize the new printer attributes.

Testing the print queue

To test the print queue, be certain to use a file that is appropriate for the printer you have attached. If you are testing an ASCII text or PCL queue, one of the following commands is recommended: These commands will print a single page to the printer.

If you are testing a printer that prints only PostScript or HPGL, print a known good file or use the following commands:

This will produce a page that contains rows of ### and lines with percent signs, but will print a banner page and only one other page.

With HPGL it is best to use a known good file.

Troubleshooting serial port problems

Some common problems when printing to serial attached printers are:

  1. Defective serial cable
  2. Missing interposer
  3. Serial cable longer than 50 feet (200 for rs232 adapters and printers)
  4. Printer set up for parallel rather than serial-common on proprinters and HPLJ III
  5. Serial parameter mismatch between printer and system settings
  6. -incorrect baud rate often prints upside down question marks

  7. Mismatched flow control settings-prints fine for a moment then data is lost
  8. Queue goes down or cannot create indicates that the CTS signal on AIX is not being asserted from the printer or that the signal is toggling

Files changed when adding an AIX 4 local queue

File Description
   /etc/qconfig New queue stanza and queue device stanza is added
    /etc/qconfig.bin Digested binary version of /etc/qconfig
    /var/spool/lpd/pio/@local/custom/<queue:quedev> ASCII editable version of virtual printer colon file definitions
    /var/spool/lpd/pio/@local/ddi/<queue:quedev> Digested binary version of virtual printer colon file definitions
    /var/spool/lpd/pio/@local/smit/<odm files> ODM database of attribute limits and smit panel information
   /dev/lp/device_number> Special Device File

Configuring a printer without adding a queue

The procedure for adding a printer without adding an AIX print queue differs slightly from the preceding discussion. This is the case, for example, if you are using a third party print spooler or if you are using applications that print directly to a device file.

Following are the steps to add a printer without adding a print queue.

  1. Use the smitty mkprt fastpath.

  2. Choose Add a Printer/Plotter.

  3. Select the Printer/Plotter Type.

  4. Choose the Printer/Plotter Interface.

  5. Choose the PORT number.

  6. Modify any serial attributes.

  7. Press the Enter key to add the printer.

This will add a device file in /dev such as /dev/lp24.


You will not be able to use print commands to print to this device. You must write directly to the device file using redirection or print statements inside a program.


  lptest 10 10 > /dev/lp24
  cat /etc/hosts > /dev/lp24

To look at the configurations or make temporary changes to the device configuration use:

To print postscript to this file you may need to set the printer to passthrough mode using:

splp -p+

[ Doc Ref: 92220739323166     Publish Date: Oct. 17, 2000     4FAX Ref: 6457 ]