Kevin Colyer's thoughts and ponderings

Semi-random rambles

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A terrible ache in all the diodes down my left side…

For a long time now I have had an annoying problem here in the YWAM building in that all the computers on the left hand side of the building would run very slowly over the network; not slowly enough to stop work from happening, but slow enough.

We used to have a recurring problem on Monday’s at 5pm when the left hand side of the building’s network simply refused to work until resolving itself mysteriously on its own by 10am Tuesday. This happened so regularly we knew how to work around it.

Our building’s network is split two, one half stretches all the way to my office and up to the top floor of the building via a relay of 8 port switches. And it is always fast! The other half stretches through the office and down into the basement.

In the centre we have a 4 port US Robotics router that connects the two halves and also connects to our broadband cable modem and out of the building along the tubes and pipes of the Internet. I always assumed the problem were the cables I had crimped together or some strange electrical interference from the Aurora Borealis or simply mice munching the cables in walls.

The other day, having got completely frustrated working on a machine on one half of the building that was crawling along on the network, I left the office and went shopping. I had a spare switch knocking about and I suddenly realised what the problem was. The US Robotics router was simply not up to the job of switching the data around the lan. So I replaced the 4 ports into the 8 port switch and linked just one port to one port on the router.

And… speed again! Can’t believe it took me a year to figure it out though…

So I guess the lesson learned is that a cheap switch might be more efficient than a cheap mulit-port hub/router etc. (not that I am complaining too much about the router – it has a great firewall).

Sorry if I put anyone to sleep there, but maybe it will help you!



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Sharing Windows printers with computers running Linux

One of the things that I have found hardest to get working over the years is printing to a printer attached to a Windows machine from my Linux machines. In general Linux will print to about everything and even has some success with those cheap GDI laser printers that rely on Windows to render pages. Postscript printers work wonderfully as do Network printing.

My particular problem has been to print to Inkjet printers attached to Windows machines. Well after a long, long search I have made progress thanks to some Ubuntu mailing lists. It turns out that Windows XP (and I guess 2000 and Vista too) have some extra facilities that you can use.

If your Windows printers are shared over your Windows network and all is working well you can get Linux printing working well by:

On the Windows XP Machine

  • Go to the Install Software and Install Windows Software. Choose to install Other Network File and Print Services and choose the Unix Line-Printer service.
  • Go to Management Console’s Services sections and TCP/IP Print Services. Make sure these are started and set to automatic so they run at each reboot.
  • On the Windows Firewall (or other Firewall program you are running) open port 515 on the and call it LPD or something
  • Finally on the printer you want to share disable bi-directional printing support as this just doesn’t seem to work over the network.

On the Linux Machine
(I use KDE desktop but it should be similar in Gnome or even from the http://localhost:631 control panel)

  • Create printer
  • The backend should be a LPD network printer
  • Give IP address or host name of printer
  • For the print Queue give Windows share name of the printer
  • Follow through with the installation and select the right driver for the printer.
  • Give it a good name and save!
  • Try a test print! Success! (I hope!)