Printing from the command line

Printers have always been a pain for systems admins and users alike. However, there’s a quick and easy setup for printing from the printers on campus using stdlinux and the command line.

Using lpr

Unless you want to try catting a file to a printer device and hoping for the best, I would recommend using lpr to help print any documents that need printing. lpr is installed by default on stdlinux, and works at very least with the printers in Caldwell 112. It can be as simple as lpr <document>, but there are a couple specifics that you might need to use.


The printers in Caldwell 112 are named:

  • lj_cl_112_a
  • lj_cl_112_b
  • lj_cl_112_c

The first one being the one closest to the office in the corner near the Java helpdesk.

The flag that is used to pass a printer name as an argument is -P. Altogether, the command to print doc.pdf from the first printer would be:

$ lpr -P lj_cl_112_a doc.pdf

Single Sided

By default, the printers print documents double-sided. In the event that there is a need to have a document single-sided only, there is a way to do that, although it’s more convoluted than specifying a printer. The invocation is -o sides=one-sided.


If it seems like it would be a good idea to alias this in order to have an easier way to call this on a paper, it is advisable to specify the printer that would be used the most, and aliasing that in ~/.bashrc.

alias printthis="lpr -P lj_cl_112_a"

And calling it is now as simple as $ printthis <document>.

The document did not print

If there is a problem with the printing, check the following:

  1. The command line did not show any errors
    • If it did, google is your friend
  2. The printer does not show that the paper is out
    • Else, the people at the java table can refill it
  3. The document name does not contain any illegal characters
    • If there are any such as +, \\, (, etc. try renaming the file