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"Printer unavailable" message


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Polarbear144 Polarbear144 is offline
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16-Jun-2002, 02:15 PM #1
Angry "Printer unavailable" message
We have two home computers networked with Windows XP through a hub. Got a new printer yesterday (replacing an old one), which the host computer can print from fine, but other computer (running Windows 98) gets a "printer unavailable" message, even though the printer shouldn't be unavailable! The network seems to be okay, since we can access each other's shared files, and both of us can get on the internet. The printer is a Lexmark Z53, in case that makes a difference.

Please help!
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17-Jun-2002, 06:07 AM #2
How are you trying to set up the printer? The XP PC needs to have the printer shared on it, and print sharing enabled generally, then you connect to it using the add printer icon in the Printers folder of control panel on the 98 PC. Don't install the drivers on the 98 PC for it, you automatically download them from the XP PC during the add network printer process.

Also, open the printer properties on the XP machine from control panel, and go to the sharing tab, then click on the additional drivers button. Make sure that the box for Win 95/98 is ticked. If it isn't you may need the CD in order to add them.
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17-Jun-2002, 11:09 PM #3
The XP PC does have the printer shared on it -- that particular one and print sharing generally. I also had done the Add Printer routine from the 98 PC. When I tried your adding the additional drivers suggestion I ran into problems.

I did what you said and went to the sharing tab on the printer properties, and checked the box by "Windows 95, 98 and Me" (same box), and clicked OK, but when I put in the disk and told it to look in my CD drive I got an Add Printer Wizard window with the name of the printer listed and a message saying "This driver is not digitally signed!". When I clicked on Have Disk again, I just got the window back again that asks for a printer driver and I told it to look in the CD drive, and it went on like that over and over.

So, I decided to download a 98 driver off the Lexmark website. I downloaded it and unzipped it and installed it, and it said it was installed. But the printer still wouldn't print from the 98 computer, and when I went back to the Add Additional Drivers on the XP PC, it claimed that the 98 driver was still not installed!

Any more ideas? Am I doing something wrong? Could the 98 PC (instead of the XP) be made the host just for the printer and if so might that solve the problem?

Diane
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18-Jun-2002, 07:51 AM #4
Don't put the printer on the 98 machine, as that will cause all sorts of worse problems for the XP machine trying to access it.

When you get the "not digitally signed" message just click on OK and allow the installation to continue. Its just a warning that its effectively an old generation driver, but it should work fine once its installed.

Which machine did you download and install the zipped driver to? If you just create a folder on the XP hard drive, copy the driver zip into it and unzip it, but don't install it. Then run the add printer drivers (for 95/98/me) again, and point it at the folder with the unzipped drivers in, it should then load them all OK.

Basically the 98 printer driver has to reside on the XP PC, but is not actually installed on it. XP just needs to know where to look for it when a 98 client asks for it during the add network printer process. The 98 PC will then automatically download that driver from the XP PC and start to use it during the setup procedure.
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18-Jun-2002, 10:33 AM #5
Well, there's been some progress. I got the additional drivers installed and they show up as being installed, although just after installation I got a message about the files not being valid for the selected architecture. I thought (hoped) that might just mean it wouldn't work for XP.

So, I went back to the 98 machine and uninstalled the printer and ran the add network printer routine again. Then I shut down both machines and turned them back on again. The 98 machine during its boot-up process showed that it was connecting to the printer (message box saying connecting to LPT1, etc.).

Unfortunately, however, when I try to print I get a message saying "Printer not ready. Cannot communicate with printer". In the printer control program box it shows the printer as being idle and evidently ready to print.

So what now?

Thanks for your patience with all this, Nick. I really do appreciate it!
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18-Jun-2002, 03:42 PM #6
It shouldn't be trying to look for the printer on LPT1, that's where it would be if it was a local printer, not a networked one.

Open your printers folder, and right-click on the Lexmark printer icon, then choose properties from the popup menu.

Then go to the ports tab and see what it says there that the printer is on. If it says LPT1, delete the printer, reboot and then run the Add Printer Wizard again, but be extra careful to choose all of the network printer options. When it asks you for the network address/location of the printer, hit the browse button, then double-click the name of the computer that the printer is physically attached to, and select the shared printer under it.

Don't worry I'll hang in here until we get this working for you.
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18-Jun-2002, 08:53 PM #7
I'm beginning to think this is a lost cause! Just to be sure, I went ahead and uninstalled the printer again and re-installed it, making sure that the path was just the network path and didn't say anything about LPT1. Now it doesn't say it's connecting to LPT1, but it doesn't print, either!

I have another question, though. On the properties window where you put the path there are buttons saying Capture Port and End Capture. If I push capture port, it only gives me choices of LPT1, 2, etc., nothing about network. If I push End Capture, it tells me no network printers are connected. Does that have anything to do with the problem I'm having?

Again, thanks for your patience and your help.
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19-Jun-2002, 11:50 AM #8
Did you check out what port it said it thought it was attached to prior to uninstalling it? In fact, if its installed as a network printer, you don't have to uninstall it at all, just delete the icon from the printers folder. Is that what you did?

You wouldn't get anything when you click the capture ports button as that will only look for local ports on the system, like the parallel port. You are using a TCP/IP port to connect to a network printer, so the port is effectively virtual.

If you are still willing to keep going with this lets start from scratch, with no assumptions, and go through all the steps. If you have already loaded the 98 drivers on the XP machine as previously discussed you shouldn't need the HP printer CD at all during the process.

Start on the XP machine. Verify that the printer is installed properly in XP, that you can print through it, and that the printer is shared. Check the share permissions, as to who is allowed to print, manage docs etc, and make sure that everyone has full rights.

Make sure that the user account whoch you log onto the W98 machine also exists as a user account (with exactly the same password) on the XP machine.

Check that the 98 PC and its shared folders show up in My network places and that you can access them. So far so good.

Then go to the 98 PC, verify that you can see the XP PC in network neighbourhood, and that when you double-click it you can see and access its shared folders.

If you can, then run the Add Printer wizard from the Control Panel / Printers folder.

On the first main screen where it asks "local or network printer" select the Network printer radio button, then click next.

On the next screen, unless you know the exact names of the printer share and the PC it is physically connected to, click the browse for printer button.

On the next screen, expand the "entire network" tree if necessary, then double-click the name of the XP PC that the printer is physically attached to, and when the printer pops up underneath it, select the printer and click next.

On the next few screens it will ask you if you want to set it as the default printer and DOS printer etc. Choose the options that are right for you.

At the end you should get the message that the printer is set up. At that point I would reboot the 98 PC. When you have got back to the printers folder again, right-click on the icon for the printer and choose properties. Then choose print test page. Obviously the XP PC and the printer has to be switched on throughout this entire process, and also switched on in future whenever you want to print a document from the 98 PC.

Hope that this helps.
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19-Jun-2002, 12:23 PM #9
Last night after sending my reply to your previous post, I did some investigating on the Lexmark site to see if I could find any hints there. In their technical support knowledge base I found an article about peer-to-peer networking with Windows 95/98/ME. Even though one of our machines is running XP, I decided to try what they said, which oddly enough requires the printer to be set up on both machines as a local, not a network, printer. Well, that didn't work either, but there is a note at the bottom of the instructions to the effect that "remote printer may get communication error message". There's no advice about what to do if that happens, so I guess it's just tough luck. Here's the URL to that page, if you want to take a look at it: http://support.lexmark.com/cgi-bin/k...&query=sharing
So, I sent an email request for technical support to them from the same site, and their auto reply said that I should get a response within 2 days.
In the meantime, if you think it would be worth it to try the other route again and go through the steps that you gave me, I will do that when I get home from work tonight. Or if you have any other suggestions in light of the Lexmark article, let me know. Lexmark must be kind of weird. It never occurred to me when I bought the printer that it wouldn't be possible to network just about any (new) printer in existence. The other one we had was an Epson, and we didn't have any problems networking it, but it was very slow and the color quality wasn't very good.

Thanks again for everything.
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19-Jun-2002, 12:29 PM #10
Last night after sending my reply to your previous post, I did some investigating on the Lexmark site to see if I could find any hints there. In their technical support knowledge base I found an article about peer-to-peer networking with Windows 95/98/ME. Even though one of our machines is running XP, I decided to try what they said, which oddly enough requires the printer to be set up on both machines as a local, not a network, printer. Well, that didn't work either, but there is a note at the bottom of the instructions to the effect that "remote printer may get communication error message". There's no advice about what to do if that happens, so I guess it's just tough luck. Here's the URL to that page, if you want to take a look at it: http://support.lexmark.com/cgi-bin/k...&query=sharing
So, I sent an email request for technical support to them from the same site, and their auto reply said that I should get a response within 2 days.
In the meantime, if you think it would be worth it to try the other route again and go through the steps that you gave me, I will do that when I get home from work tonight. Or if you have any other suggestions in light of the Lexmark article, let me know. Lexmark must be kind of weird. It never occurred to me when I bought the printer that it wouldn't be possible to network just about any (new) printer in existence. The other one we had was an Epson, and we didn't have any problems networking it, but it was very slow and the color quality wasn't very good.

Thanks again for everything.
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19-Jun-2002, 07:31 PM #11
I had a look at that article and how they tell you to do it goes against every "best practise" principle of networking a printer I have ever known. I am very dubious indeed that this would work with XP. I don't have a 98 PC here to try it with at the moment, but if you try it please post back the results.

I would certainly try the proper way (that I posted earlier) one more time, before trying this as a last resort.
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19-Jun-2002, 09:23 PM #12
I went through all the steps you gave me with the exception of this part: "Check the share permissions, as to who is allowed to print, manage docs etc, and make sure that everyone has full rights.

Make sure that the user account whoch you log onto the W98 machine also exists as a user account (with exactly the same password) on the XP machine."

I don't know how to check share permissions, and we don't have user accounts or passwords (at least if we do have user accounts I don't know what they are or how to change them). We just turn the machine on and start doing whatever.

If that could be the problem, please tell me how to check share permissions and establish user accounts. Otherwise, I'm in the same boat I was in before. I'd already tried Lexmark's method (since I'm desparate, I'll try just about anything!) and it didn't work either.

Do you think it would make a difference if both machines ran XP? We could upgrade the other machine if it would make this work. As I said, I'll try just about anything!

Thanks.
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20-Jun-2002, 12:19 PM #13
How you check the share permissions for the printer on the XP machine depends on whether you have simple file sharing enabled for XP or not.

Open My Computer, go to Tools, folder options, view, advanced settings. Now scroll down to the bottom of the list of options to "Use Simple file sharing". Make sure that its tickbox is ticked. If its not tick it and click apply and then OK to enable it and get back out again.

If you had to enable it you will need to reboot for it to take effect. Now go to the printers folder. Right-click on the icon for the printer and choose properties. Then go to the Advanced tab, and make sure that the radio button labelled "Always available" is selected. If not select it and click apply and OK again. In XP its that simple.

I don't think that having both PCs as XP would make any difference. We have a number of clients with simple peer to peer networks running a mixture of 95/98/Me/NT4/W2K/XP machines and none of their XP PCs have had a problem sharing a printer to any of the other machines on the network. Their machines are almost without exception HPs and Epsons, but it really shouldn't make any difference.

Are you sure that the 98 PC can definitely access all shares on the XP PC and view and open files? If it can then it isn't a usernames/passwords issue.

The only other thing that I can think of is the name that you have chosen for the printer share name. Make sure that it doesn't have any spaces in it, and preferably that it is of 10 characters/letters or less.

Let me know how you get on with this. In the meantime I will keep racking my brain for other reasons why it isn't working.
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20-Jun-2002, 02:14 PM #14
I just got an email from Lexmark support which says: Lexmark printer will not work in a cross platform (WinXP to Win98) peer to peer network environment.

So is that the end of it or do you think it could still be possible to work around the situation?

I did reply to Lexmark and ask if it worked in a Win XP to Win XP peer to peer network environment. We'll see what they say about that.

To address the issues in your post, though, I am sure that the 98 PC can definitely access the files on the XP. I tried it and it works. I will still check the permissions when I get home tonight.
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20-Jun-2002, 04:48 PM #15
Update to previous post: Lexmark stated that it "works better" with two computers using the same operating system, and I heard from another person sharing a Lemark between a W2K and an XP that it works fine. So I'm thinking it's maybe just 95/98/ME it doesn't work with, and I'm going to go buy an XP upgrade for the 98 machine and cross my fingers!

I may re-post about a whole different problem when/if I get the update installed!
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