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I have a user with a Dell Latitude D620 with a simple Dell dock in her office. She has a Brother MFC-7860DW printer connected to a USB 2.0 port on the dock.

Often (possibly 3x a week) she will come to me and say she cannot print. This happens (seemingly) at random. I can't narrow it down to "can't print after docking" or "can't print after suspend" or "after inserting or removing another USB device" or similar. There are times when she'll be in something like Excel and print fine...then switch to Word and print and it will fail.

When it fails it will show as Use Printer Offline and the print jobs will sit in queue.

What I've determined is happening:

The printer is switching between two virtual USB printer ports, USB002 and USB003. When the printer is on one and then switches, the printer goes offline. Going into the printer properties and the ports tab I can manually switch it from whichever it is currently on to the other (changing the checkbox from USB002 to USB003 for example), and then the printer will wake up and immediately print out everything in the queue.

Why and how to fix?

I don't want to tell the user "just do keep changing it on the ports tab when it happens". But I also don't have any idea how to make sure the printer stays on a single USB virtual printer port or why it feels the need to change on its own. So if anyone has a real fix for this or ideas, I'd appreciate it.

  • Did you try to enable printer pooling and selecting both checkboxes? This should allow to overcome the problem. – MBu Nov 14 '13 at 14:13
  • @MBu - not exactly a true fix, but I'm ok with a bandaid. I'll try it out and see what happens. – TheCleaner Nov 14 '13 at 14:18
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    That almost sounds like a faulty cable or dock. As in, the printer gets physically disconnected, reconnects, and is assigned a different virtual port. Have you tried a different USB cable, or connecting the printer directly to the laptop? – jlehtinen Nov 14 '13 at 14:54
  • @jlehtinen - I have tried a different usb cable. Plugging directly to the laptop might fix it, but it isn't a a long term fix to tell the user to not use the dock and plug in a cable every day. The usb notifications never show the printer "disconnect/reconnect". I'm going to test out the printer pooling idea. – TheCleaner Nov 14 '13 at 15:00
  • Maybe a udev rule that creates/updates a symlink to the correct virtual printer port and then you use that symlink in the printer setup? – HBruijn Nov 14 '13 at 15:36

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