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What is LPR Printing?

Chris Blank
Chris Blank

Line printer remote (LPR) printing is a system that allows computer workstations connected to a single network to submit print jobs to printers that also are connected to the network. With LPR printing, the connection is made through a Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) connection. These connections also are used to connect standalone computers to the Internet.

LPR printing works through a line printer daemon (LPD), a program installed on a computer. The user submits the print job to the LPD, which transmits the request to the network printer. In cases where where is more than one network printer, the LPD submits the print job to an available printer, or in the case of specialized print jobs, the LPD selects the appropriate printer. LPR printing also allows for print queues, or an ordering system that executes print jobs submitted from several computers on the network based on a the order of submission, the priority of the print jobs or a combination of both ordering systems.

A printer connected to a LPR system.
A printer connected to a LPR system.

LPR printing allows computers using multiple platforms to send remote print jobs to a single printer without the need for a lot of complex configurations. Computers using different operating systems but operating on a single network can submit print jobs to any printers operating on the same network. Another advantage of LPR printing is that it it is possible to maintain an infinite number of print queues on the network printing system. This type of printing also can be used for a number of different operations in a single network, even if the printers and computers are located in different parts of a building.

LPR printing was developed at the University of California, Berkeley.
LPR printing was developed at the University of California, Berkeley.

Without LPR printing or another means of remote printing, it is necessary to have direct connections between each computer and a printer. Of course, this makes it difficult, if not impossible, for multiple computers to use the same printer. It also means that computer workstations must be located close enough to the printer to be directly connected to the printer. Without LPR printing, computers using different operating systems must be connected to compatible printers. For a large company or organization, this can mean having to operate and maintain a staggering number of printers.

Discussion Comments


@Vincenzo -- Working out that system can be difficult in a large organization, but it is ideal at home. Things have changed from the times when there was usually a central computer (if there was one at all) in the home and everyone shared it. These days, it is common for everyone in a home to have an individual laptop or desktop.

It is not practical to hook up printers to each computer. Ink and toner is expensive, after all, and people tend to not print a lot (I've had ink cartridges dry out from lack of use, in fact). In that setting, a central printer that everyone can access is easy to set up through wireless connections and people use it so rarely that there is little chance of them getting in the way of each other.


@Vinzenzo -- True, and I well remember working for a newspaper in the 1980s where copy was output to a loud, fast and chain driven line printer so that editors could grab it and correct things. If that system was in place back then, there is no reason an efficient system that uses wireless, remote line printers well now.


It isn't that hard for multiple computers to use the same printer in a large organization provided that jobs are queued efficiently. That is assuming that users print things only rarely which should be the case if they can all create electronic, PDF documents efficiently (who needs a ton of paper when you've got electronic documents and a good filing structure in place?)

It is well worth the savings in cash to put together such a system and keep in mind that people have been using line printers for decades. Effective systems were worked out years ago.

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    • A printer connected to a LPR system.
      A printer connected to a LPR system.
    • LPR printing was developed at the University of California, Berkeley.
      By: Eric BVD
      LPR printing was developed at the University of California, Berkeley.