CUPS printer hangs after inactivity, requires CUPS restart

CUPS printer hangs after inactivity, requires CUPS restart

Post by Frnak McKenne » Sat, 30 Jul 2005 08:56:53

My Ethernet-attached Brother MFC-420N All-in-one printer hangs on
the first print job after a period of inactivity. The printer does
get some data from CUPS (its LCD panel reports "Receiving Data") but
the job never (as in hours/overnight) finishes.

I can clear the problem temporarily by restarting the CUPS daemon
and pressing the Stop/Exit button on the MFC-420N.  Once the queue
is un-jammed this way, the entire queue prints normally (barring
out-of-ink and out-of-paper conditions).  However, if I let the
printer sit idle for a while (ten minutes?  an hour?), the next
print job will again get partway through and stop.

I'm finishing up on a project that has kept me fairly busy for the
past three months, so I won't be at a point to do any extensive
testing on the problem for a few weeks, but I thought I'd ask if
anyone has seen anything like this before. I mean, there's always
the _chance_ that it's something simple, stupid, and obvious on
_my_ part, right? <grin>

The system doesn't crash, I don't need to reboot or switch to
single-user mode to clear the problem, and what does come out
appears to be good quality.  The Print function sucks ink like a
camel drinks water when it hits an oasis, but that's most likely
a hardware problem. <grin>

It is, however, an annoyance.  The CUPS server and the printer are
down the hall, so every time I want to print I have to queue the
job, then walk down an manually get the printer going.  If there is
a simple way of finding out why it's behaving this way -- and
hopefully fixing it -- I'd like to give it a shot.

Linux version:  SuSE 9.1
                Linux manticore 2.6.4-52-default #1
                Wed Apr 7 02:08:30 UTC 2004
                i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux
CUPS version:   cups-1.1.20-103
CUPS driver:    cupswrapperMFC420CN-1.0.0-1
Samba version:  Version 3.0.8-1.1.1-SUSE

    manticore  # CUPS, SAMBA servers
    brn_60fb75 # The Brother MFC-420N
                              #  All-in-one Printer/etc.

Generally I'm printing from 'office' via a Samba-defined network
printer that feeds into CUPS. Some additional information on the
symptoms when this problem occurs:

 1) Nothing prints, not even an initial page.

 2) If the document is "large"(*) it simply sits in the CUPS print queue
    for the MFC-420N until I notice it and restart CUPS and the
    printer. Once I do this, the job does not vanish but prints
    as I would expect it to.

    I have never seen it spontaneously begin/resume printing
    although on several occasions the situation has persisted

 3) If this document is "short"(*) it vanishes from the CUPS queue.

 4) If the MFC-420N CUPS queue is Stopped and a "short" document queued,
    it doesn't vanish and I can restart CUPS, then release the queue
    and the document will print. Usually.

(*) A text-only document of a couple of pages, for example, may vanish,
    while a one-page 'web page printout won't.

Once this problem occurs, the only way to get things going that I have
discovered is to do the following:

 - Restart CUPS:    /etc/init.d/cups restart, and then
 - Press the Stop/Exit button on the printer.

Once I've done this, CUPS thinks for a bit (5-10 seconds), then the
printer makes printing noises and eventually document pages roll out.

Once things are moving they seem to keep moving as long as there are
documents in the queue.  The printer can pause (paper out) for an
hour, then pick up again without the queue becoming jammed once more
paper is loaded.  Until the queue empties and the MFC-420N sits idle
for a bit.  Then the whole "restart CUPS, restart MFC-420N" process
has to be repeated.

Any clues, pointers, or suggestions will be appreciated, but please
don't invest large amounts of your time at this point since I may
not be able to immediately implement them.  I will, however, post
back my results and any fix or better workaround I find (or have
pointed out to me <grin>).


Frank McKenney, McKenney Associates
Richmond, *ia / (804) 320-4887
Munged E-mail: frank uscore mckenney ayut minds pring dawt cahm (y'all)
    If you cannot -- in the long run -- tell everyone what you
    have been doing, your doing has been worthless.
                             -- Erwin Schrodinger


1. CUPS packaging: .cups not -cups

Finally, I found out why my cups works from the admin tool but fails
otherwise: RPM installation didn't create symblinks to lpr, lpq, etc.
Although I read from man pages about lpr-cups, lpc-cups, and so on, they
exist on the hard disk as lpr.cups, lpc.cups, and so on.  Here are a few

1. Where does this naming descrepency come from?  RedHat, CUPS, or
somewhere else?

2. I think RH installs lpd printing by default but I may have explicitly
chosen to do so; I probably also chose to install CUPS at the same time.
  Could this be the reason why symblinks are not created?  Or the cups
RPM doesn't create any, period?

3. Now that I discovered the real naming convention, I can cope with
command-line and Mozilla, maybe a couple of other applications that
allow explicit printing facility configuration.  But I encounter
programs like xpdf that jumps into Mozilla every time I download a PDF
file. (I don't see GhostView installed, though GhostScript is by
default.)  There's no printing config in xpdf except paper format.  I
believe it defaults to lpr.  Any way to change this( without linking
lpr.cups to lpr)?


Yuan Liu

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