I am looking to replace several hundred servers in my organization that happen to each be at a remote location. Our only hangup is printing, as the servers currently act as File/Print servers for each location's users.

I've been looking for a cost-effective appliance that can function as a normal print server (UNC Pathing, local queuing). So far, I've found a single candidate that performs this function, and frankly, it's cost is well above what I have expected (the HP 4250 print server, a discontinued item with an MSRP that is comparable, if not more, than the cost of our servers).

Swimming through the google-mire results in getting a lot of USB and parallel port devices for networking a non-networked desktop printer, but nothing like what I need, a dedicated print server appliance that will manage multiple network-capable printers and MFP's.

Are there reliable, less-expensive alternatives to the HP Print Server Appliance 4250 series?

  • Have you considered a plug system? – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Apr 18 '12 at 15:30
  • Do you need something enterprisey from $BIGBRAND or would you deploy Linux-based (Samba/CUPS) appliances as well? Do you need AD integration? What about manageability? How much storage is needed? – the-wabbit Apr 18 '12 at 15:33
  • @syneticon-dj - $BIGBRAND is preferred, however even the HP appliance is Linux-based with an apache frontend. Manageability would be basically a web interface that would allow uploading print drivers for a total of (2) client OS'es (XP/7). The HP product can manage up to 50 printers, we would need considerably less (no more than 10). AD integration would be quite awesome as well to automate the process for user experience, but seeing as our plans involve deploying the printers to the user via GPO or script, not absolutely necessary. – Joshua Apr 18 '12 at 15:42
  • @Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams - I hate to admit I'm not familiar with the term "plug system". Could you elaborate? – Joshua Apr 18 '12 at 15:43

We have several hundred printers, but only about 20 network ones (3 mfp - the rest just B&W ): mostly HP and Kyocera. I setup a dedicated Virtual Machine (on a Citrix XEN host) running Debian 6 to run CUPS. It was really easy to setup (I'm talking less than an hour for a whole process), didn't need any special hardware for it and it is able to handle all the requests for now. We print about 80,000 pages a month through it.

I would give it a shot. I can use one of the older HP G4 or even G5 servers ( get one from Ebay for a $200 - $300), setup debian ( or whatever linux distro you like) and set up CUPS. It may surprise you.


Take a look at CUPS.

  • CUPS is software. A print server is hardware. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Apr 18 '12 at 15:31
  • @Ignacio, a print server can also be a hardware & software combination. e.g. A dedicated Linux box running CUPS (poor choice in my opinion but it would work). – John Gardeniers Jul 25 '12 at 1:54
  • @John: Sure, but it still needs the hardware regardless. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jul 25 '12 at 1:56
  • @Ignacio, by that logic everything in computerland is a hardware issue. – John Gardeniers Jul 25 '12 at 4:57

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