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My current environment spans several buildings and remote locations, with quite a few buildings housing multiple departments, and unfortunately printer ratio is probably in the range of 1:2-4 in some departments.

I would like to implement a printer mapping solution, currently we only have a partial solution for the lab workstations we support. Our active directory is structured by physical location for workstations, so no clear lines of departments within the buildings.

I was looking at doing a powershell script that contains a hash table, which stores the building and department as a key, and a string array that contains the paths to the printer(s). So, at logon (!), I could get the user's dept from AD, the computer's location from AD, concat the strings together, then use that as the key to pull the string array from the hashtable, check each printer to see if it's been mapped, and map it if it isn't. This is ignoring default printers for the majority of the time.

I looked at group policy, but it would result in quite a few GPOs being created, so probably not the best route to go.

We really don't have an asset tracking solution in place, so there isn't one to leverage here. I would like to hear about solutions others have put in place, or where I could improve this solution.

Update

I'm looking for a more elegant solution than a user calling the helpdesk requesting printers to be mapped, or a user trying to map a printer by going to start->run->. These printers already have a queue on the print server (Windows)

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    What exactly is the problem you're trying to solve? too few printers for too many users? – joeqwerty Oct 31 '13 at 18:10
  • are these printers on a windows print server already? Are they listed in AD? – TheCleaner Oct 31 '13 at 18:30
  • @joeqwerty preventing calls to the helpdesk. – MDMoore313 Oct 31 '13 at 18:51
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    re: your script solution - if a user logs on outside their usual office they would get no printers. Is that the intention? – sahmeepee Oct 31 '13 at 22:51
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    Login scripts only run on login. If the users have laptops, they are probably just suspending/hibernating when they move between buildings. When they unlock, the login script does not run. Does this describe your situation, or are these workers with multiple desktop machines? – mfinni Nov 1 '13 at 14:07
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Not quite the fix for your existing problems, but take a look at an enterprise "follow me" printing solution. in my experience the users initially complain but are generally extremely pleased after.

From a configuration persepctive it effectively means that for all workstations in a single building the same network print server gets configured. Easy for you! Only one driver pack as well.

For your users it means they walk to the nearest printer, they scan their staff badge and the printer starts printing. (or they select the job from their personal queue first) On your way to a meeting? Pick your documents up on the printer next to the meeting rooms three floors up. Something more confidential, secure the print job with a PIN code as well.

And it sounds like the stereotypical marketing talk but looking at the cost per page larger volume laser printers really are significantly cheaper compared to inkjet printers.That makes the beancounters happy. Also makes for easier cross charging...

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You should still be able to do this relatively efficiently with group policy. It depends on how your AD is organised but you should be able to link one GPO to each OU and use item level targeting to assign the printers within that OU.

Why do you think too many GPOs would result?

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  • Basically, for OUs with more than one dept housed, we would need separate GPOs for each dept, security filtering on each GPO, and we have a lot of locations, so you can see where this would go. No exaggeration to say I would end up w/ @ least 50 GPOs dedicated to printer mapping. Since I'd be the only one managing it, I'd rather not. Item level targeting sounds too granular, would that be pointing a GPO to specific machines? If so, I need something more dynamic: When a computer acct is created, policies/scripts are applied, and it's like the machine has been in the environment for months. – MDMoore313 Oct 31 '13 at 18:56
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    Item level targetting: technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc733022.aspx It means that you can do stuff like link to a group of users and the filter by computer, IP range, all sorts of parameters. One GPO per OU / building. – BlueCompute Oct 31 '13 at 19:00
  • This actually seems like a good idea. I could have one GPO and filter print mappings based on a whole range of configurations. Thanks, if nothing better comes along it will either be this or the script route, haven't decided yet. – MDMoore313 Oct 31 '13 at 19:19
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    I think using group policy preferences would be easier to manage and troubleshoot. Don't see any reason why your script suggestion wouldn't work though. – BlueCompute Oct 31 '13 at 19:46

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