Monday, June 11, 2007

HOWTO: assign Color & B+W printing permissions

You have a printer that uses expensive color ink, and you (are asked by management to) restrict access to the colour ink to a small group of users (the managers), while still allowing other users to print B+W.

This solution relies on obtaing two different drivers for your printer, one that only prints in Black & White, & another that prints in color. The printer in this example is a HP COlor LaserJet 2840, for which said drivers can be downloaded from the HP website.

There's different ways of doing this, and this method isn't perfect (I can think of several workarounds), but if you have the usual n00b users then it'll work perfectly...:-)

Download the vanilla & B+W drivers & create the printer port on the FPS (File-Print-Server, assuming Server 2k3/XP) manually by using the add-printer wizard, selecting Local Printer->TCP/IP port->enter hostname.

First install the B+W drivers and configure a printer from the printer port (last step), when the wizard asks you for the drivers browse to where the B+W driver installed itself, name this printer "MakerModelB+W" or similar.

Now install the vanilla drivers that allow color printing, and create a printer from the port, but this time using the color drivers. Congratulations! you now have two virtual links to the same machine, one that will always print color, on that will always print B+W.

Now open 'Active Directory Users & Computers", browse to your Groups node, and create a group called "Colour Printer Users" or similar, add a few people (yourself & the managers).

Go back to the two printers and configure printer sharing. Give printing rights on the B+W printer to your main User group ("Staff" or whatever), then go to the color printer, remove "Everyone" and add the Color printing group from the last step.

Congratulations! Now you've got a mechanism for letting some users print color, while restricting everyone else to B+W! now just add the printers to your login script with a check for the color group so that they get the color mapping instead and you're done!


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