Category Archives: Hardware and Networking

Old Parallel (LPT) Printers and Mac OS X

I have an HP LaserJet 5P that has been in the family for over 15 years and is still kicking butt. Today I wanted to get it to work on my Apple Macbook Pro laptops without having to fork out a ton of cash for a print server device.

I purchased a USB to Parallel adapter, which OS X naturally couldn’t use see. To get around this issue, I ran the CUPS Gutenprint installer and the usbtb installer. The base installer installs the print drivers maintained by Gutenprint and usbtb installs the core component that supports USB printers. On Leopard (OS X 10.5) the installation step that searches for printers gave me an error message about not being able to find any printers, but I just continued, and when asked whether to copy or create a new queue, I naturally opted to create a new one. On Snow Leopard (10.6) A printer called “Unknown Unknown” was found and I wasn’t prompted about copying or creating a new queue. Both installations appeared to work. However, on both flavors of OS X, I went to System Preferences... > Print & Fax and ensured the printer was named what I wanted and set to use the HP LaserJet 5P – CUPS+Gutenprint v5.2.5 driver.

Gotta’ love open source software! (If I remember correctly, Richard Stallman was trying to fix a printer driver when he created the idea of “free software”–now known as open source–because the driver was closed-source and wasn’t working.)

UPDATE: If you need to share your printer with Windows machines, this article from Apple does the trick.