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Peripherals: Printers, CDROMs, floppies, and tape drives


We are currently have several network printers: the HP laser printer in the downstairs computer room (down), the HP printer in the upstairs computer room (up), the color laser printer in the downstairs computer room (color), the Tektronix color dye-sublimation printer in the upstairs computer room (c1), and the HP Design Jet 500PS poster printer (hp_poster), and Rene's laser printer (rene). The downstairs laser printer is set as the default printer. Printer information is summarized in the following table:

Printer queue name Location Default? Printer model Interface Network name Language Driver
copier/newcopier Room 116   Canon Ethernet astro-copier Postscript CUPS on astronomy
expensive Room 118 No Brother MFC-9840CDW Ethernet astro-mfc9840cdw Postscript CUPS on astronomy
down Room 116 Yes HP LaserJet 2400dtn Ethernet astro-hp2430 PostScript CUPS on astronomy
up Room 217 No HP LaserJet 4200 Ethernet astro-hp PostScript cups on astronomy
c1 Room 116A No Tektronix Phaser 450 Ethernet astro-color PostScript cups on astronomy
hp_poster Room 107A No HP DesignJet 500PS Ethernet astro-bigprint PCL cups on astronomy
color Room 116 No HP Color LaserJet 2605dn Ethernet astro-hp2605dn   cups on astronomy
rene Room 204 no HPLaserJet6P Ethernet prt-rene PostScript cups on astronomy
holtz Room 102 no Brothter HL4570CDW holtz PostScript cups on astronomy  

For the upstairs and downstaris printers (-Pup, -Pdown, -Pcolor), you can specify options on the command line for varions printing options, e.g.:

Because of this capability, it should never be necessary to use the printer control panel to change printer configuration.

You can also configure your print jobs using the graphical xpp command.

Printers are managed on the Linux machines using a commercial software product, PrintPro; this functionality is built-in to RedHat distributions from version 7.3 on. This allows printing via the normall UNIX commands: lp and lpr (on some of the machines, there is an additional graphical printing interface, glp). Documentation is available for the user interface and for the administrators guide. Configuration can be done using /usr/sbin/printers or via the Web at http://astrodisk:631.

The two laser printers and the HP can be accessed directly via embedded web servers.

Making posters with the poster printer

Making posters is relatively straightforward. There is a non-negligible cost to make these, so it is best to get it right the first time and not to have to make too many attempts.

We have three kinds of paper available; in order of expense, these are: lightweight paper, heavyweight paper, and glossy paper. It is very easy to switch between different rolls (you use the menu items on the printer itself to load and unload rolls). The poster printer has 42 inch wide paper; hence you want one of the two dimensions of your poster to be smaller than this size. To avoid needing to make long cuts, you might want to choose to have either the vertical or horizontal dimension be exactly 42 inches.

There are numerous ways one might make a poster for the poster printer. Here I mention a few possibilities:

Note that if you want to include an NMSU logo on your poster, you can get one here (also see the official university site)

Printer supplies

USB drives



Most computers come with an internal CDROM drive. After inserting a disk, the CDROM can be immediately accessed through the directory /misc/cdrom, as the device is auto-mounted. It should automatically dismount if it is not accessed for a short period of time. You can manually force a dismount (e.g. if you want to eject the disk), using: umount /misc/cdrom.

Writing CDROMs

Many, but not all, of the individual machines have CD writers. The easiest way to burn things to the CDROM is probably to find the menu items available through your window manager.

If this is not available, create a directory hierarchy that you want to be copied to the CDROM; the capacity of a CDROM disk is 650 Mbytes. Issue the command:

mkcd directory

to copy all of the files under the specified directory to the CDROM. This will take up to half an hour. The final step in the process compares the files on disk to those on the CDROM; if you see any error messages here, there may have been problems with the write (although sometimes you get errors here when everything is still fine).


Several machines have DVDROM readers. These are accessed just like the CDROMs, and in fact, the DVD readers also read regular CDROMs. On io, there is both a fast CDROM reader as well as a DVD reader (both located in the computer case). The CDROM is accessed through /misc/cdrom; the DVD is accessed through /misc/dvd. Other machines with DVDROM drives are aphrodite and maritimus.


Linux can read floppy disks, including those formatted by DOS/Windows. If you have a floppy drive, after inserting a disk, it can be immediately accessed through the directory /misc/floppy.

Tape drives

Linux supports many SCSI tape drives. Currently, we have one 8mm Exabyte drive and two 4mm DAT (one DDS3 and one DDS) drive installed on the machine astrotape, which is located in the downstairs computer room. It can be accessed through using normal UNIX tape commands (tar, mt, etc.). The Exabyte drive has a capacity of $ \sim$ 8 Gby; the DAT DDS has a capacity of $ \sim$ 4 Gby. The DAT DDS3 drive on astrotape has a 24 Gby capacity, and an even higher capacity DAT DDS4 drive on maritimus. Tape drive availability is summarized in the following table.

Tape drive Host computer Device name
Exabyte 8mm astrotape /dev/st? /dev/nst?
DAT 4mm (DDS) astrotape /dev/st? /dev/nst?
DAT 4mm (DDS3) astrotape /dev/st? /dev/nst?
DAT 4mm (DDS4) maritimus /dev/st0 /dev/nst0

The /dev/stn devices will automatically rewind after each access; the /dev/nstn will not rewind.

Occasionally, one may get I/O errors when trying to read tapes. One thing to check if this occurs is whether the block size is incorrectly set on the tape drive. In general, the tape drive block size should be set to 0, which means it should be able to adapt to whatever block size the tape was written with. You can check the tape drive setting using the command: mt -f device status, and you can change the blocksize (to 0) using: mt -f device setblk 0.

next up previous
Next: Backups Up: Linux cluster notes Previous: Software/data resources
root 2015-08-12