I setup the new office printer here on my laptop this morning and I had all kinds of trouble getting it to work with the system-config-printer graphical utility that I usually love so much. As part of my troubleshooting I thought I’d try the web interface, which worked great! That gave me the idea of sharing how to configure your printers over the default-installed, yet often unused, web interface.
CUPS, the Common Unix Printing System, comes with a web interface by default that many people don’t know about. If you’d like to take a quick peek at it go ahead and open a new tab and visit http://localhost:631. Did you know you can configure everything via the web interface that you might normally configure via the graphical interface? Everything from creating and deleting printers, to printing test pages and assigning the default printer for the machine.
Now, for those of you that are suddenly worried about a service running on your machine that you were unaware of, CUPS only allows connections on the localhost interface by default. In other words, if you tried accessing it over your public IP it would deny you access. This means it would also deny access to anyone else trying to get in and manipulate your printers.
It is possible to make this interface open to more than just your localhost connection, just be sure you’re aware of the security implications first. Anyone with access to that web management tool may be able to view, customize and possibly even delete your configured printers.
To allow access to the printer web interface simply edit the
/etc/cups/cupsd.conf file and update the line reading:
You can, of course, replace 0.0.0.0 with a more specific IP address. Using 0.0.0.0 will listen on all available addresses the machine has.
In conclusion, configuring your printers is not limited to the graphical interface. CUPS has provided a web interface for some time now and its nearly as simple to use. The next time you have issues configuring or managing your printers, give the web interface a try!