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Old 07-12-2005, 10:59 PM   #1
Registered: Aug 2004
Distribution: Ubuntu 16.04 lts desk; Ubuntu 14.04 server
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Question vpn, samba & printing


Could you help me, please, figure out where to start with this problem? I want to get the off-site workstation to be able to print to a printer on-site.


vpn using pptp and pppd
workstations: 4 on-site, 3 running Win95, 1 running WinXP Pro; 1 off-site running WinME
Server: RedHat 9.0 running Samba
Printer: Brother HL-5140 using HPLJ4 driver
Remote workstation sees the printer as off-line, cannot print to it.


I have a vpn with 4 workstations and a server inside, and one workstation logging in from about 10 miles away. We do mainly word processing on this network.

Inside is a Samba server on a Red Hat 9.0 box. All the workstations but one are running Win95 using a legacy app, Ami Pro 3.1. Until two weeks ago, all workstations, including the offsite one, were able to print to the on-site printer, a Panasonic KX-P4450i. Great machine, but can no longer get supplies for it, so we bought a Brother HL-5140 to replace it.

Well, the Brother machine seemed to print mirror-images of documents more than readable ones, so I called Brother. Their fix: use the HP LaserJet 4 driver instead. That solved the problem. Until we installed a new workstation to the place where the printer was plugged in. The new machine is an XP Pro. It's printer screens for the HPLJ4 are entirely different. So I suspect its driver is different from the one for Win95.

In any event, the off-site machine (running Win ME) sees this printer as offline. In fact when she opens "My Network Places" it does not even see the machine this printer is attached to. The Win 95 machines do see it, can click on it and see this new printer, and even right click and choose "install."

So, where do I start checking? The vpn? Printer drivers? Samba? Someplace else?

Old 07-13-2005, 04:52 AM   #2
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I'd say Samba, if the ME machine does not even see the workgroup/domain resources (i.e., the Samba server).

Is the ME machine configured to be part of the same workgroup/domain as the rest? Is Windows networking correctly configured? Can the server see the ME machine?

You might also check your logs (I think ME has an Event Viewer in the Administrative Control Panel, like Win2K does), and see if that offers any clues as to where the failure is occurring. You could also check the Samba logs, and possibly see what happened when the ME machine tried to log onto the network (or that it in fact didn't do so, because it tried to log onto a different network, for example).

But I would suggest working outwards... Samba=>Network Connection=>VPN. Easier to narrow the issue down that way, imo.

Hope this helps.
Old 07-13-2005, 05:49 AM   #3
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Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Houston, TX (usa)
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My new example of what a question should look like. Simon Bridge (LQ) & ESR would be proud.

Most of this was written before motub posted the above.

1. I don't do vpn yet.
2. I detest ME & XP, but can tolerate 2k & 95.
3. I am in especially foul attitude toward M$ & Winders(tm) today.

Problem Summary
Everything was fine until you had to buy a new printer.
Everything is still fine except for the off-site box's print access.
The initial problems w/ the new printer were worked out.
-> I assume that the off-site (ME) box could still print at that point.
-> I assume that the off-site (ME) box can still see the 95 boxen in Network Neighborhood.
The current problem began when the new printer's connection was changed to an XP box:
Until we installed a new workstation to the place where the printer was plugged in.
What was the printer connected to before?
Is the XP box a replacement or an addition?
Why XP?
Why is the printer connected to the XP box?
Is Ami Pro 3.1 running under XP?

You are not going to get any decent support from M$ or Brother, even though they are the ultimate cause of your problem.

0. Get a different printer.
1. Don't connect the printer to the XP box.
2. Upgrade the XP box to 2k.
3. Upgrade the ME box to 95. (This may not be practical, but ME, as I am sure you are aware, is a notorious PoS. Besides, if 95 can see & use the printer while ME can't, this might work well. 98 is another possiblity.)

0 &emdash; I have an HL-1240, I had huge problems getting it to work w/ 95 when I bought it, & one of the worst was Brother support. It was in retirement for a while & now I am in the middle of getting it to work on my LAN.

1 &emdash; I think this is the most practical of all, if possible physically & otherwise.

2 &emdash; This is probably a pipe dream, I doubt you had the option of buying (or building) a bare box & finding an old copy of 2k to put on it.

3 &emdash; Unfortunately, possibly another pipe dream.

Advice Summary
I think the problem (as I understand it) is caused by XP. The question is, do you have to fix XP, or are you allowed to find another solution that works? Remember Alexander -- you don't have to untie the knot to solve the puzzle. That is so good, I just added it to my sig.

So, connect the printer &emdash; at least temporarily &emdash; to a non-XP machine. If this works, at least you can confirm that some XP issue is the culprit. If this doesn't work, temporarily disconnect the XP box from your network &emdash; it's possible that XP is somehow "poisoning" it.

Also, you might try to further isolate/diagnose the problem by putting a 95 box @ the off-site location & the ME box on the main network. This would tell you if it's a vpn problem or a bad interaction between ME & XP. Needless to say, I am thinking weekend or after hours for this test.

Let us know what happens.

While it's obvious this is a business scenario & business usually prefers immediate $ over politics & long term benefit, I hope that you will not be forced to "upgrade" 3 perfectly good boxen that are doing their jobs. I can see some M$-type claiming that your problem is the 3 pieces of "obsolete" hardware, running an OS that isn't supported, for an antiquated legacy app. Don't let them do this to you, your users, or your bosses' pocketbook.

I know the rant ratio here is high, but I put a warning at the beginning. Besides I just spent 8 hours over the last 2 days fighting w/ a dying drive under XP Home & trying to set up a new machine exactly like the old one, & then trying to educate a recalcitrant user on the necessity for the differences. Billy G. wouldn't survive long in my vicinity today ...
So please, no flames, no moderator reports, or even long agreements. This is a serious thread & I don't want to divert it.
Old 07-13-2005, 05:26 PM   #4
Registered: Aug 2004
Distribution: Ubuntu 16.04 lts desk; Ubuntu 14.04 server
Posts: 342

Original Poster
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Holly and Rick--

Thank you for your quick and thorough replies.

As an aside, there is another problem which will prevent me for a day or two solving this one: When we went into the remote box (Win ME) to see if we could change the printer drivers, we could not even get the printer dialog to open. We got an error: "Spool32 has caused an error in KERNEL32.dll"

That makes me think that the WinME machine may be dying.

I am not even sure why it is WinME. It had Win95 on it when I sent it out, but the person who built my vpn changed it. So I am worried that I might not get the vpn back if I reinstall W95 on this. Any ideas on how to fix *that*?

Back to your comments:

Yes, I have to believe the network is fine, that it comes down to the XP Pro box and its driver, since the change was to move the XP Pro box in place of an existing W95 box. The XP Pro is to drive a scanner for which there does not seem to be any SANE driver yet. Eventually, within a year I want my whole system to be linux on the desktop.

You have given me an idea. The Win95 box is small enough I could stand it in a corner and connect the printer to it, so it is simply a print server. If we can resolve the Spool32 error.

The thing I see with the XP box is that it has a differnet driver for HPLJ4 than the Win95 boxes, and that is somehow not communicated properly over the Samba network. Then again, it would seem to be between the XP and the vpn, since the machines inside do see and print to this printer.

One other thing: From my Win95 workstation and from the Win XP Pro workstation, we cannot see the remote computer in Network Neighborhood. Nor can the remote computer see anything on this side except for the server. I think that is no different from what it was before XP and Brother. Not sure if this is at all significant....


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