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I've seen several (home grade) HP prints that have network port and allow connecting to them via that. However I haven't seen any way to use it without installing the printer specific drives. This seems a bit silly because I've seen printer sharing system (SMB I think) that didn't seem to need any printer specific software.

My question is: Is there a way to use one of these with my printers?

(I'm omitting the exact model in the hopes that answers for several models (or a resource that answers it for several models) will be given.)

Note: My primary interest isn't the network access per se, but rather avoiding having to install anything on the computer (in may case because there are no drives for it).

Further details about my case that likely won't apply to other people who find this question: The printer in question is an HP LaserJet CP1025nw and the hope is to have it connected to two different computers: One isn't a problem as I can easily get drivers for it but the other is because no drivers are provided for its OS and (for reasons outside the scope of this question) it can't be upgraded, or connected to the same network as the first. The setup I'm currently hoping to use is to connect the USB connection to one computer and the network to the other.

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A lot of printers implement standard TCP/IP printer ports under the covers, and the application they try to get you to install is just a fancy handshake/locator service.

Using the printer without the software involves the printer having a hard-coded IP, so you need to be a bit familiar with networking.

Basically, you set the printer up with a static-IP, then create a standard TCP/IP port pointed at it.

Once you have the port set up, you install the drivers as if it were connected locally. You may have to manually specify the drivers, because device autodiscovery over the network is shaky at best.

Now, this may not work everywhere, but I know it does work with my brother networked printer/scanner/copier, many different HP/Linksys print-servers, and most networked HP laser printers. I figure it's worth a shot.

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About 80% of my motive is to avoid installing drivers on the computer in question (because I can't get drivers for it and because there isn't a network/local split in the installer anyway) so that would be a no-go for my case. – BCS Dec 28 '10 at 18:22
I said manually specify drivers, not install them. Windows has a LOT of printer drivers built in, and it is these that make the "Driverless" SMB print sharing work in the first place. Also, you can often fake it with a similar model printer's driver. I have a Laserjet 4000 PCS and it works fine with the LaserJet 4000 driver. – Fake Name Dec 31 '10 at 1:44
You said you have a HP LaserJet CP1025. It's likely that most drivers for the series are at least somewhat interchangeable. Try anything CP10** and try a test page. It'll either work, or spew out post-script garbage. I don't think there is any way to actually hurt anything. Post script is pretty implementation independent anyways. – Fake Name Dec 31 '10 at 1:46

I think that the answer is no, but I'm not 100% sure. What you're asking is the main difference between cheap and expensive printers form the firmware point of view. Good network printers will work with only Postscript or PCL, while cheap ones will need driver installation because they use operating system of the computer which is sending data for printing to process data for printing instead of using their own embedded computer.

Also, I don't see what's the relation of SMB and printer sharing for printers which do have a port. You still need drivers for SMB and why rely on it when computers can directly connect to printer.


You're wrong. You need drivers for each model of printer connected! You don't get "SMB shared printer" Instead it looks as if the remote printer is connected to local computer and you need all drivers it requires. That's why I mentioned Postscript and PCL. They are universal and included with almost every modern operating system, but the rest of the drivers aren't. Also, you can't assume that OS will have or be able to detect drivers for the shared printer even if they are detected at the host computer. I for example have a Samsung SCX-4720F which used to be connected to a computer running Vista 32bit. Other computers on the network running Vista 64bit or 7 32 or 64bit didn't automatically detect drivers for the printer. Instead, I had to go to windows driver catalog and download drivers manually from there.

As to why would you want to use network port: Well why not? It's much simpler that way, especially since printers with network ports are more expensive because they have network ports. There are often cheaper versions without network ports which need a host computer running SMB or something else in order to be shared and that host computer actually has to be turned on when you want to print. The most obvious reason why printers with network ports are used is to avoid having a separate computer just for network connections. Instead, printer's embedded computer has network card and the embedded computer is used to share the printer on network. This way printer is accessible whenever the printer is turned on. You mentioned printers with network port in your question, so I thought that is was self-evident to you why you'd want to use network port and not USB.

As I said, what you need is a pinter which supports Postscript drivers or PCL. You'd just connect it to your network and it will almost certainly "just work". Unfortunately, such features have their price. Their computers need to be powerful enough to process data sent to them and there are licensing problems too. Postscript licenses for printer manufacturers are expensive, so they affect price of the pinter. Some printers will have their own "proprietary totally not postscript, it just looks that way" language so you could look in that direction, if funds are a problem.

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I may be in error but as I understand it, the drivers needed to print to a printer shared by SMB will be the same regardless of the modal of the printers so, while I would need a driver for an SMB shared printer, that will most likely be built into the OS already. – BCS Dec 28 '10 at 18:18
As to why I would want to use the network port when it has a USB one: the USB port is already attached to another computer. – BCS Dec 28 '10 at 18:19
@BCS See my edit. – AndrejaKo Dec 28 '10 at 20:47

Often, with common printers such as HP, there should be no problem.

Typically, once common and well-known printers are configured correctly on the network, other computers on the network will see them and be able to use them just fine with the printer drivers that they already have installed. Usually the installable driver software includes extra configuration utilities that are not entirely necessary.

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The newer HP models don't work that way - case in point my C4795 implements wireless printing, but requires drivers. – vcsjones Dec 27 '10 at 2:19
Ditto that; I know of one all-in-one that allowed SMB access to any flash card you stuck in it (it had slots for that) but still didn't allow access SMB to the printer despite the fact that much of the code for the file sharing is the same for printer sharing. – BCS Dec 27 '10 at 6:50
Perhaps I misunderstood the question - I was interpreting this as not needing to install the drivers because they often are already installed for common printers. Also, the original question is for wired ports, not wireless. – Shannon Nelson Dec 29 '10 at 10:35

For several models what you want is a printer server, its a little device that you plug into you printer using usb and connect it to your router where all computers will see it, you can connect to the printer server using your browser and the device's ip, its quite handy i got one my self, there are wireless models of course.

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