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I've had my LaserJet 4000 with a 615N JetDirect for over 20 years now. Once upon a time, I was able to easily connect and print to it from a Mac or Windows machine. I'm not sure if it's something I changed, or something in the OS has changed, but the printer is no longer discoverable.

Setting up the printer was a effortless. You simply added a printer 🖨, the OS instantly recognized it, installed the drivers and offered to print a test page. Now, it no longer discoverable. I have to add it as a network printer, type in its assigned hard IP address and locate and install the drivers. If I use a hostname instead of an IP, the OS doesn't resolve it, but oddly enough, the router lists the printer and its hostname on its connected clients list.

I printed out the JetDirect configuration page to see what could be wrong and I noticed an error message:

IPX/SPX STATUS: 29
  UNABLE TO SENSE NET NUMBER
MODE:     QUEUE SERVER
NODE NAME:
     NPI768990
IPX/SPX RETRANS:  0
NETWORK FRAME TYPE RCVD
UNKNOWN

Pardon the bad formatting, I am displaying it exactly as it appeared on the JetDirect Configuration Page.

What could possibly cause my printer to no longer broadcast its name? Could it have something to do with the IPX/SPX error? Could it be my router interfering with it?

  • Aside from the answers that were provided, I note that: 1) You can connect to this printer manually (not ideal, but it means you can work); and 2) Apparently it stopped being discoverable recently, on two different OSes. I'd be tempted to say your router is the culprit, either following a firmware update or due to the implementation of new security rules that disable the (aging) IPX/SPX protocol. Have you tried to turn the printer off entirely, shut down the router, turn the printer back on and make sure it's up to speed, then turn the router back on, to foce discovery? – Didier Apr 1 at 9:10
  • As an addendum, regarding Windows, Microsoft recently put the lid on some older version of SMB, and IPX/SPX is related to that protocol in the sense that they share the same sub-layer via NetBIOS, which is itself kind of old... This could explain that for Windows. For macOS, as well as for Windows, it could be a simple question of adding/editing a firewall rule, though. – Didier Apr 1 at 9:14
  • You're giving me a clue here. You really should add this as an answer. I do remember something about netbios name last time I researched this issue. Everything works fine, its just not plug and play anymore. I did a reset from the console, but I will try a hard reset. Thanks. – user148298 Apr 1 at 12:43
  • Maybe you should ask on retro computing, a lot of ancient knowledge over there and probably someone who knows how to get it broadcasting again.>>>>>>>retrocomputing.stackexchange.com – Moab Apr 1 at 14:47
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With an old network card like that, my first suggestion would be to reset it to factory defaults (a cold reset, as HP used to call it). It probably means resetting the entire printer as well.

This HP support page has general instructions for a cold reset:

Most HP printers with internal HP Jetdirect print servers can be reset to factory defaults (or cold-reset) by turning the printer off and holding down the ONLINE or GO buttons while turning the printer back on. The printer's control panel display should read Cold Reset or Restoring Factory Settings. If the printer has no LCD display, the indicator lights will cycle.

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First off, wow that thing is ancient! My gut feeling is that is the problem.

First, older JetDirect cards were known to fail. I wouldnt say it was common, but it definitely wasnt uncommon. Ive replaced many JetDirect cards in my time. Secondly, you said the card was a 650N. As far as I can tell, there was no such model. The 615N was the most common JetDirect card to fail and it was most commonly found in - yep, you guessed it - the 4000 series laser printers.

Next is the error. IPX/SPX is an old Novell Netware networking protocol. It really is not something anyone would have been using in the last 20 years. Your home computers would not be using it. I dont know why your JetDirect card is complaining about it. It could just be some kind of misconfiguration. But I doubt it.

These arent things I have looked at in a very long time. Again, my gut says the JetDirect card has kicked the proverbial bucket. You can still buy replacement cards. I checked Amazon, and the cost is basically 1/3 of a new cheap laser printer, so I wouldnt say its cost effective. Personally, I think you are better off spending your money on a new laser printer, than duct-taping the old one.

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  • Thanks! Yes, it is a 615N. I seriously considered prefacing the question with "please do not tell me to upgrade my printer. It works fine thank you.". This printer is bestial! It was from an era just before the MBAs destroyed HP's brand. It's fast enough and has numerous add-ons options, like a double sided feeder. The parts and toner are widely available and cheap. The prices on the printers are slowly creeping upwards as more people discover the quality of these machines. – user148298 Apr 1 at 12:35
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    Forgot to mention, the 615N works fine. It just doesn't broadcast itself like it once did. I think either the router or the OS no longer support whatever protocol it uses for broadcasting the name or the ports are blocked off. – user148298 Apr 1 at 12:39
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Regarding Windows, Microsoft recently put the lid on some older version of SMB, and IPX/SPX is related to that protocol in the sense that they share the same sub-layer via NetBIOS, which is itself kind of old...

This could explain that for Windows. For macOS, as well as for Windows, it could be a simple question of adding/editing a firewall rule, though.

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