Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chromebook printer gotcha

The Samsung Chromebook (previous post) is a fine little machine. Simple setup, simple operation. What could go wrong? Well, try to integrate it with your home network! You can't directly connect to anything, like your printers on the network. (There are SSH and FTP apps, but they seem to work through a proxy outside the local net.) Google wants you to use its Cloud Print service (beta!), which allows you to print to a file in the cloud which is then queued for any cloud-connected print server for which you have permission.

It's on you to create a cloud print server for your local printers if you want to print from the 'book. To do this, you must 1) log in to your PC (under your ID of course), 2) run the Chrome browser, 3) set up a server process, and 4) configure sharing with any Google IDs you want to have printing. Your local PC becomes a server (and it has to be turned on), and you have to be logged in.

It's a little more complicated than that for us, since we have a number of local PC user accounts between several family members. The print server has to be configured separately for each user who might be using the PC, and each user has to share the access properly. There is no simple way to run the server as a daemon or service. (It can be done, however. See this article for a Linux method.)

What they really suggest you do is to buy a new Cloud Print friendly printer, with the server capability built it.  HP calls this "ePrint". There are quite a few models available in a low to moderate price range.  For example, the HP 6600 all-in-one. Turns out we've got the HP 6500, with no Cloud Print...

That adds $100 or so to the price of the Chromebook.  Caveat emptor.

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