beetle.astro.columbia.edu

beetle is an HP P3005dn black and white LaserJet. support info can be found here. It is serial number CND1P00926.

It offers printing to machines on the Pupin subnet, via IPP (we have also tried printing via HP's JetDirect protocol, over port 9100, and via old-school LPD, but are sticking with the IPP standard for now)

beetle can be configured via the web. Its TLS certificate should be signed by the CAL Certificate Authority.

configuration choices and rationales

We are offering only one flavor of print service, to minimize potential interactions between queueing clients on the JetDirect server. dkg initially chose JetDirect because that seems to offer the most features for printing. However, we are currently pursuing IPP in the hope that a standards-based approach will be more stable. so far, no dice.

We've been testing by printing a two-page blank PDF file, and running 50 or 100 prints in a row of it from evince.

I've also turned off every other service i could possibly find. !mDNS, RCFG, IPX/SPX, AppleTalk, SNMP, DLC/LLC etc. All are off. The only services enabled are https (for configuration) and the specific printing protocol i'm using (i've tried IPP, 9100, and even LPD).

I've also turned off the physical ports (USB and parallel, according to the docs, but only USB appears to exist on the physical machine).

problems

After setting up the printer on the network, we have experienced a series of problems. We seem to be seeing the same problems with the shipped firmware (20060608 02.034, i think), and with a new firmware upgrade (from here), which brings the firmware version to 20061031 02.037.0

The firmware upgrade was done by "printing" an rfu file, as suggested in the readme.

hanging during duplex

one problem we've seen so far is that a job can sometimes hang in the middle of a duplex, while displaying "duplexing; do not grab paper" on the display. The only way we've found around that is to physically restart the printer (with the power switch).

Other times, the printer reports unhelpful coded error messages, which also require a power restart. Error messages we've gotten so far are:

  • 49.23A1 (appears to be a crash while doing 9100 printing (using the HPLIP ppd)
  • 49.2F9D (appears to be a crash while doing IPP printing (using the generic Postscript PPD))

error message rundowns can be found here, and apparently 49.XXX means:

 A critical firmware error has occurred.	
  * Turn the device off and then on.
  * If the message persists, contact HP Support.

problems with lpd printing

As a desperate attempt, i've even tried LPD-style printing, using the generic Postscript PPD. This has multiple problems: when i sent my 50-copy, blank double-sided job, i actually got 50 sheets out of the printer, but they were never sucked back in, duplex-style.

When i sent a single two-page non-blank job, with duplex selected, the machine got stuck in the halfway "do not grab paper" state, from which even cancelling will not recover. i need to do a hard reset on the printer to get it to come back.

last ditch attempts

I've also finally tried doing a last-ditch attempt: i reset everything to factory defaults where i could find them: under "Networking|Security|Settings|Restore Defaults" and also "restore defaults" from the console menu. I wiped the printer information from phobos, and re-created it, using ipp, with the default postscript driver, defaulting to duplex. I sent my 50-copy, double-sided blank test job, and it ran without incident (though i note that it didn't suck in any of the the pages for duplex printing -- i don't know if this is an optimization, since those pages were blank anyway). then i sent a single, 2-page pdf with a bit of text on each page. it spit out one completely blank page, and then died with a 49.2F9D error.

contacting HP

I just tried calling them, and was told that their office was closed. I will try again later.

Their ActiveChat system doesn't seem to recognize the P3005dn printer models, and when i try to connect to it, it tells me that my browser isn't supported anyway (even though i'm using the ultra-modern iceweasel 2.0)

When i finally did contact them by phone, and described everything, they offered some extra things to try, but also told me that:

"Sometimes the 49.xxx errors are caused by the network"

This is totally unacceptable in my view, given that this is a networked device. If your machine can be crashed by arbitrary network input, it should not be sold as a networked device.

ticket #443 documents the last attempts i made as well.

special configuration menu

Apparently there is a special configuration menu, accessible through the front control panel. You access the special menu like this:

  • turn the printer off.
  • turn the printer back on.
  • during the memory testing phase, hold down the green checkmark button.
  • when the three status LEDs all light up solid, release the green checkmark button.
  • you should now be in the special menu

you can see commentary about a similar menu for the LJ2420 here.