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I have been tasked with researching a method of providing printing service for guests on our wireless network. Currently they are on a firewalled VLAN with private network access restricted (they can't even talk to the local VLAN except to the gateway and thence to the Internet--the AP blocks access to all private networks).

We have about 40 networked printers, either Xerox machines or HP jetdirect devices. I imagine I can remove the private network restriction and then just tell guests to install a print driver, but this has convenience and security implications. I am willing to buy a new device if needed, but it would be great to allow some flexibility instead of requiring guests to go to the one dedicated device.

Is there a decent method of providing guests to an office with printing capabilities?

In my head it should be possible to just upload a document to the printer. I looked and some of our printers allow direct uploading of "print ready" PDFs to the configuration website. I can see this causing issues if someone uploads the wrong filetype. Also, I have read about HP's "eprint" email gateway, but we don't have any printers that support it. Ideally I could find a gateway type server that will just take the file in Word or PDF format, and then print it using our existing print server to any of the printers we have available. I Googled and couldn't find anything.

It would also be nice to support Apple's AirPrint for guests with iPads.

Is this possible? Any alternate suggestions?

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Do you use a captive portal at all when users first connect? You could add shared printer's UNC paths to this page with information about where the printer is located physically. If they click on the UNC path to a printer; it adds it to spooler, right? – Aaron Copley Sep 10 '13 at 15:04
Yes, we have a captive portal. Guests won't have access to SMB though. I would only want to open a more limited protocol like JetDirect, but this is still not ideal for a guest who just wants to print a single time and may never come back--they won't want to install drivers, etc if there is a way to avoid it. – Quinten Sep 10 '13 at 15:36
Put an IPP capable printer on the firewalled VLAN? – joeqwerty Sep 10 '13 at 15:54
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Here are some solutions that work:

I found a few vendors that sell products in this space. Papercut, Pcounter, and Printeron are the biggest ones. Google Cloud Print is free but looks more complex.

The comments above don't address my goal of uploading a document and printing without drivers installed.

I could roll my own solution, but I am surprised there is no existing open source project to build a web upload to printer gateway--conceptually this could be as simple as upload to a shared watch directory and then periodically check for print jobs.

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I ended up using HP ePrint--widest support, lowest cost (comes with printers we already owned or can intentionally buy for the future). It is not perfect but it works decently well. Allows printing by email. – Quinten Apr 28 '14 at 19:05

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