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Using the raw driver to send pre-generated PCL directly to the printer, I get response times around 4 s. When I send it to the printer using netcat I get about 300 ms.

It seems that there is some problem with CUPS' socket backend: http://pastebin.com/NmDGss1A

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According to the CUPS forum this is a bug in CUPS 1.4.3 which causes an SNMP request for supply levels even for raw queues (for normal queues you can disable it in the PPD file):

OK, this is a known bug in the 1.4.3 socket backend; the 1.4.7 and later releases disable SNMP supply level lookups (the source of the delay) for raw queues.

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