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We have a resource area for guests to come to research. We also offer free printing.

This works fine from our desktops where the printer drivers are already installed. But when people bring their laptops and connect to our public wifi, it's very difficult for them to setup the printer. They have to find the IP of the printer, find drivers, get them installed, etc.

What can I do to simplify this process for our guests? I've heard of some libraries having a program you just download from their website to setup the printer, but don't know how it works exactly.

I've tried searching the internet for such solutions, but apparently haven't figured out the right keywords to bring anything useful up.

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The most generic way would be setting up a gateway which would take files in a commonly-used exchange format (PDF) through a means of transport (e-mail or a Windows share) and print them using internal printer drivers. You mostly will see such a setup done using Linux / CUPS, some printer models even will allow for direct PDF printing.

This of course would require users to create PDFs they want to print in the first place, but is the only generic / cross-platform way of getting rid of the driver issue.

Other than that, you could simplify the process of installing the printer by providing a publicly-announced print server which would expose the protocols moslty needed in your environment (Windows printer share, Bonjour) and possibly a meta-driver for non-postscript printers. Again, this seems like a good task for a Linux / CUPS setup.

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