PDF Creation Using Samba

Written by Tim Wunder on 09-February-2003.

Everyone knows that PDF creation under linux is handled, for free, by a utility called GhostScript. Creating PDFs under Windows requires either the costly Adobe Acrobat program, or someother PDF creation software. Since I wasn't real keen on the idea of buying a license for Acrobat for every person in my organization that needed to make PDF files, I set about the task of searching for a way to utilize ghostscript from Windows. One of the links I found was an article on Linux Gazette written by John Bright, detailing how to set up a PDF Service with Samba. Unfortunately for me, the article wasn't written with Windows 2000 in mind, so I had to do things a little differently from the article. Regardless, tthe article is top notch and perfect  if you're client PCs are Windows 9x, or NT.

Windows 2000 SP1 client PCs
RedHat 7.0 server (up to date with current patches)
Samba 2.2.0

Everyting I did was based on an article on Linux Gazette written by John Bright. The article should be able to be found here.

Samba is configured properly, all the Windows PCs have access to the Samba shares and a working ghostscript is installed on the linux server.

After reading the article, I set to the task of  configuring Samba. Creating the printer share in my smb.conf file was easy, as was creating the script that did all the work. You'll need a directory on the samba server that will be used for the output and will be accessible by everyone. Assuming the directory will be called /shr/pdfdropbox, just
# mkdir  /shr/pdfdropbox
# chown  nobody  /shr/pdfdropbox
# chmod  u+rwx  /shr/pdfdropbox

For the lazy who haven't read the very vine article, here's what the script looks like:

#Convert postscript file into a PDF document
# (c) John Bright, 2001, jbright@winfordeng.com

DATE=`date +%b%d-%H%M%S`


/usr/bin/ps2pdf $1 $OUTDIR/$DATE.temp
rm $1

Of course, you can use whatever directory you want instead of /shr/pdfdropbox.

I set up my system so that Windows will autmagically load the correct driver for the printer when adding the printer. The article details how to do this wonderfully, for Win 9x and NT. For Windows 2000, it's a little more difficult to find the right driver. In fact, the original PostScript driver I chose, an HP LaserJet 2200 Series PS, directly from the printer's driver CD, was bad, so I had to find another. The other problem was finding the right .INF file to utilize the make_printerdef utility in samba. I ended up using the driver for an "HP LaserJet 2100 Series PS" printer, which came with Windows. The make_printerdef is a lovely tool, and does its job well. Please read the article, there's wonderful instructions on how to use it. Unfortunately, since I could never find the correct .INF file to set things up correctly, I had to abandon the tool. I did use it enough to find out what it does, though. So I managed to replicate its job manually.

You'll need a file called /etc/samba/printers.def, which specifies the printer names and the driver files associated with each printer. I had first used a driver for a standard laser printer, then decided to add a color laser, just to see if I make color PDFs (I can). My printers.def file contains the following:
HP LaserJet 2100 Series PS:HP2100_7.PPD:hp2100_7.ppd:::RAW:hp2100_7.ppd
HP Color LaserJet 8500 PS:HP_CLJ85.PPD:hp_clj85.ppd:::RAW:hp_clj85.ppd

You'll also need a /etc/samba/printdrivers directory containg the correct drivers, mine contains:

I found both drivers under C:\WINNT\system32\spool\drivers\w32x86\3, YMMV.

The Nitty Gritty
Here are the relevant sections of my smb.conf file, pertaining to the PDF Service. Modify to suit your needs:
        path = /shr/pdfdropbox
        force user = nobody
        read only = No
        guest ok = Yes

        path = /tmp
        guest ok = Yes
        printable = Yes
        print command = /usr/bin/printpdf %s
        lpq command =
        lprm command =
        printer driver = "HP LaserJet 2100 Series PS"
        printer driver location = \\%h\printer$

        guest ok = Yes
        printable = Yes
        print command = /usr/bin/printpdf %s
        lpq command =
        lprm command =
        printer driver = "HP Color LaserJet 8500 PS"
        printer driver location = \\%h\printer$

        path = /etc/samba/printdrivers
        guest ok = Yes

Once configured, all you need to do to enable printing PDF files on the Windows clients is add the shared PDF printer as a network printer using the Windows Add Printer dialog. Easy.

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