I've seen this question: Home network printer recommendations but I think I'm asking something more basic. I'm not really familiar with networked printers or how they work or what they do really. What I'd like is to have a printer that is accessible to anyone connected to my home network, without having to plug into the printer itself.

An alternative setup might to be to have a printer that is always hooked up to one computer, like a desktop, that is almost always on and allows other computers connected on the network to print to it as well.

I believe the first option is called a networked printer and the second is printer sharing. But again I'm new to this so I don't really know the details or if I'm using the correct terminology. I was wondering if someone might be able to shed some light on this and let me know what is needed for either of these setup. Thanks.

3 Answers 3


12.04 and later

To share a printer attached to a computer on the network open the printer dialog from the menu on the cogwheel on the to panel side. Choose the printer with a right click and tick "Share" to enable sharing. Next open "Server -> Settings..." from the panel menu as shown here:

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This will open the following window

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Select "Show printers shared by other systems" on the remote client, or "Publish shared printers connected to to this system" to make them visible to others on the net.

11.04 and earlier

Network printing is an in-build feature that is fully supported by Ubuntu. To setup a network printer you have to allow network printing on the host printer server (System -> Administration -> Printing -> Server -> Settings) by publishing your shared printer:


On the client side you have to setup this network printer, again from the System -> Administration -> Printing Menu by adding a new printer and selecting Network Printer. You have to give the name of the host machine where the printer is attached to:


Then, you will see the following screen:

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By pressing 'Forward' a driver for this printer will be searched. Select the appropriate driver from the list and your new network printer is there.


  • By setting up Samba it is possible to print from a Wndows client, or using a printer attached to a Windows host.

  • In addition there are routers that support printer sharing of a printer attached to the router. There is no need to have another machine running then. However it may be hard to setup this feature from your router as drivers for Linux are mostly unavailable.

  • Some printers have an inbuilt LAN/WLAN port capability where you are able to attach your printer directly to your network.

  • You're welcome. I deliberately kept the alternatives short as they are a bit off-topic. External printer servers/LAN-adapters are an alternative only if a high-end or expensive printer needs to be connected (you can get a new WLAN printer from $50.-)
    – Takkat
    Jan 3, 2011 at 10:23

You have three options:

  • Take any printer and hook it up to an always-on PC. The PC will be the printer server, and needs to be set up to allow printer sharing, as shown in the first part of Takkat's reply. (The client part is more or less the same independent of which printer sharing option you use.)
  • Take any printer and hook it up to a hardware mini print server, as suggested by Kendor. This kind of printer server is much smaller than a PC, it's basically just a USB port for the printer plus a network card. (Image courtesy Netgear.)

USB mini print server

  • Lastly, buy a printer with a network card included, then you don't need a separate print server. Look for a printer with either WiFi or Ethernet. For example in the Newegg advanced search, search for printers with network ports.

Plain printing tends to work with many/most combinations of printer and OS.

But if you have/buy a multifunction printer, using the scanner over the network can be tricky. If network scanning is one of your requirements, make sure to get a product that works for your particular setup (i.e. where you can get drivers that support it for all the operating systems you use). I believe mini-print servers are out of the question in this scenario.

  • 1
    I'm accepting this because it seems to cover all of the options. The other responses are very informative answers as well and I'd encourage anyone with this same question to read all the responses. Thanks everyone.
    – Jay
    Jan 3, 2011 at 9:00

Another option would be a hardware print server. These can be had relatively inexpensively, and the benefit is that you don't have to keep a specific computer on to use a printer. This describes how to use a Netgear PS121v2. There are many others out there like this... How do I set up Print Server

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