Driverless printing with CUPS. Requires at least CUPS 2.2.2 and version 1.13.0 of cups-filters. Debian 10 (buster) and later installations meet both these conditions. The advice here (an ethernet or wireless connection) and here (a USB connection) could get your modern IPP printer going with little effort.
- The Concept of Driverless Printing
- Driverless Printing and Printers
- PDLs for Driverless Printing
- CUPS: PWG and Apple Raster
- The CUPS PPD Generator
- The cups-filters PPD Generator
- Creating a Driverless Print Queue with lpadmin (Short Version)
- Creating a Driverless Print Queue with lpadmin
- Creating a Driverless Print Queue with the CUPS Web Interface
- Creating a Driverless Print Queue with system-config-printer
- Creating a Driverless Print Queue with cups-browsed (Short Version)
- Creating a Driverless Print Queue with cups-browsed
- IPP-over-USB: The Basics
- IPP-over-USB: Automatic Discovery and Setup
- IPP-over-USB: Investigation and Troubleshooting
- CUPS 2.2.4 and Driverless Printing
- Wi-Fi Direct
- Duplicate Print Queues
- CUPS and Driverless Printing: Miscellaneous
- See Also
Driverless printing requires a modern printer. A user can be assured of having such a device when it is network-capable and it is
A Mopria-certified device calls for PWG raster, PCLm or PDF to be available as a PDL. However, it is observed that almost all PCLm, PWG raster or PDF printers also support Apple raster. Therefore, AirPrint-capability is generally a sufficient criterion regarding whether a printer can be operated driverlessly on Debian. Just look for AirPrint on the box or in the literature. OpenPrinting has a list of driverless printers.
It would be unusual for a network printer not to provide a USB connection too. In that case, the printer would almost certainly offer the IPP-over-USB protocol if it has been manufactured after mid-2012.
Debian 11 (bullseye) is geared up to auto-setup network and USB print queues with cups-browsed. Should auto-set fail and debugging cups-browsed is an unattactive proposition or there is a more complex situation to resolve, a manual queue setup with lpadmin, the CUPS web interface or system-config-printer is recommended.
Driverless printing for CUPS and cups-filters is here to stay. While it will be sone time before CUPS 3.0 enters a stable Debian distribution, an interested user may want to become aware of changes planned by the CUPS and cups-filters developers. A short exposition of the printing system's New Architecture is given on another page of our wiki.
The Concept of Driverless Printing
Driverless printing is targeted at the client side of printing and refers to the ability of the client device (computer, smartphone, tablet, laptop etc) to print without having to install any static capability files or drivers (manufacturer-specific or otherwise) on the client.
There exist a variety of methods for a client to submit a job to a printing system and print driverlessly:
Print directly from an application on the client.
Use AirPrint or IPP Everywhere printing.
- Send the job as an email attachment to a special address.
- Web print. The document is uploaded from a web browser via a web form style interface.
This page is intended to highlight and explain driverless printing in the context of directly communicating with a printer using packages provided by Debian, so not all these methods will receive attention here. Furthermore, details for using iOS and Android mobile clients are not treated.
Remember that CUPS can act as a client or server. In its server capacity it can emulate an IPP Everywhere or Apple AirPrint printer. However, the focus here is on CUPS as a client connecting to a printer that offers driverless printing functions.
Driverless Printing and Printers
A traditional printing system based on CUPS, cups-filters and cups-browsed generally obtains information about printer features and capabilities from what is stored in a static capability file such as a PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file. This static file is stored on the client device (desktop computer, laptop, tablet etc) itself. If the PPD on the client requires the sending of a job using a non-standardised Page Description Language (PDL), a driver would be required for converting to the printer-specific PDL and that driver too would have to be on the client. A client that regularly connected to different printers would have to maintain static capability files and drivers for each printer.
This is not seen as an acceptable situation, especially for mobile clients, which may have limited storage for PPDs and drivers and that may lack resources, such as battery power. Neither is it deemed particularly realistic for a user to have to set up or reconfigure a laptop computer or mobile device for each printer that is encountered. This requires a level of expertise and a time and effort commitment that cannot be assumed to be possessed.
Then contrast the printer situation with the behaviour of other peripherals like keyboards, mice, cameras and USB mass storage. Plug such devices in and they are immediately and reliably there to be used. The objective is to have printing no less available when a printer is detected.
The response of printer manufacturers to the desire for driverless printing has been to enhance their printers in the following way:
The printer advertises its presence and capabilities with mDNS/DNS-SD (Bonjour). This is the discovery protocol; accessible printers can be identified and selected from the Bonjour broadcasts of the printer. The discovery protocol is also configured to obtain capability information from accessible printers to include in its broadcasts.
The client and printer communicate using the IPP protocol. This is the transport protocol; it can obtain capability information from the selected printer and transport data to it.
There is a common PDL that the client can send and that the printer will accept. The common PDL is based on what is obtained from the capability information for the selected printer. A driverless-enabled printer will offer at least one of Apple raster, PWG raster, PDF or PCLm as a PDL.
Note again that we are talking here about sending a job directly to a printer, not to a print queue being advertised by CUPS.
PDLs for Driverless Printing
Two raster formats, Apple raster and PWG raster, have been developed to implement driverless printing.
In the case of PWG raster the raster format was chosen because it is a simpler format than that of the high-level languages, which also require significant resources on the printer. Printer-embedded PostScript interpreters can be buggy and/or slow and PostScript also has the disadvantage that it makes interoperability between client and printer difficult because PostScript does not fit cleanly with the IPP and PWG models. Streaming was chosen to send a job to a printer rather than generating a file that is downloaded and then printed. This way large jobs don't take up too much memory or storage space on the printer and printing commences with minimum delay.
Apple raster has existed for a number of years and is used with Apple's AirPrint. Unfortunately, it is not officially documented but it is known that it and PWG raster are very similar. The MIME media type is image/urf.
PWG raster is a more recent raster format, devised to be used with IPP Everywhere printers. It is based on CUPS raster and is well-documented. The MIME media type is image/pwg-raster.
CUPS: PWG and Apple Raster
The abilitity to create Apple raster files has been added to the existing PWG raster support in CUPS and made its appearance in CUPS 2.2.2; this enhancement was soon applied in version 1.13.0 of cups-filters and cups-browsed. Complete support for IPP Everywhere printers was already in Debian, so, with CUPS 2.2.2, AirPrint printers joined the class of printers that will work driverless with Debian.
With the incorporation of the two raster formats as a PDL in CUPS, IPP 2.0 to allow for querying the capabilities information from the printer and Bonjour/DNS-SD to find the printers in the network, Debian has everything needed for driverless printing to an IPP printer.
The processing of a job to create an Apple raster file is taken care of by CUPS' rastertopwg filter. The file produced by the filter is sent directly to the printer with IPP, so no vendor-specific filters are involved. This opens up the possibility of avoiding the use of non-free drivers on the CUPS client or server used for printing.
The CUPS PPD Generator
To support driverless printing fully, CUPS has a PPD generator that will drive a traditional CUPS print queue. The generator queries the printer and creates the necessary PPD options and values needed to support Apple Raster, PWG Raster, JPEG, and PDF printing. A CUPS generated PPD uses the everywhere model and can be identified from the *PCFileName "ippeve.ppd" line in the PPD.
A non-GTK application calls on CUPS to determine the filters required to convert the print file to a printer supported PDL.
- The auto-generated PPD is consulted and a printer-ready file in the required PDL is produced.
- The print job is submitted to the printer with the data produced from the filters.
- If a PDF or JPEG file is being printed, it can be sent to the printer without any filtering; this is accounted for in the *cupsFilter2 lines that are added to the generated PPD.
A text file sent to an AirPrint or IPP Everywhere printer would often be filtered by CUPS and cups-filters to output an Apple or PWG raster file. If the printer has PDL support for MIME media type application/pdf, a PDF would be sent instead because a PDF is given the highest priority. Typical possibilities for the filter chain are:
->|--------------------------------------------> Printer text -> texttopdf -> pdftopdf -> PDF ->| gstoraster -> rastertopwg -> PWG raster ---> Printer ->| gstoraster -> rastertopwg -> Apple raster -> Printer
The GTK print dialog does not use CUPS to communicate directly with IPP printers. In addition, applications using the dialog always produce a PDF to send to the printer. If this is not an acceptable PDL for the printer, printing will not take place.
The cups-filters PPD Generator
This generator uses the driverless utility and is basically a copy of the PPD generator from CUPS that has been put into the libcupsfilters library. It is kept in sync with the original by incorporating any changes to the original. A libcupsfilters generated PPD can be identified from the *PCFileName "drvless.ppd" line in the PPD.
The cups-filters PPD generator is used by default with cups-browsed when a local print queue is auto-created for an IPP network printer.
It may also be used as an alternative to the CUPS PPD generator when a queue is set up with lpadmin, system-config-printer or the CUPS web interface.
Although the cups-filters PPD generator is kept closely in step with the CUPS one, the two are not identical:
The original PPD generator only supports PWG Raster, Apple Raster, PDF, and JPEG as printer PDLs. The cups-filters PPD generator also accepts (with lower priority) PostScript, PCL-XL, and PCL 5c/e for legacy printers.
The original PPD generator requires all printer capability, option, and choice information from the printer attributes IPP request. The cups-filters generator can, in some cases, fall back to using information from the Bonjour record or even hard-coded default values. This adds support for some legacy printers.
The cups-filters PPD generator is more flexible when it comes to adding support for PDLs. For example, consider PCLm: PCLm has nothing to do with PCL 5c/e and PCL-XL but is a streaming PDF-based, raster protocol (Printer Control Lanaguage-Mobile). It is mandated by the Wi-Fi Direct standard. Since version 1.17.0 of cups-filters, application/PCLm has been a supported MIME media type via the rastertopclm filter. CUPS itself will never support PCLm as it does not add to more printer models being supported.
text -> texttopdf -> pdftopdf -> PDF -> gstoraster -> rastertopclm -> PCLm ---> Printer
- cups-filters has a policy of supporting new driverless printing technologies (see above), so its PPD generator is quite likely to accomodate developments.
Printers have bugs in their implementation of IPP. It is more likely that the cups-filters PPD generator will produce a fix than the CUPS version of the generator.
Creating a Driverless Print Queue with lpadmin (Short Version)
Obtain the URI of a printer:
Set up the print queue (uses the CUPS PPD generator):
lpadmin -p <print_queue_name> -v <URI> -E -m everywhere
Set up the print queue (uses the cups-filters PPD generator):
lpadmin -p <print_queue_name> -v <URI> -E -m driverless:<URI>
Creating a Driverless Print Queue with lpadmin
Some familiarity with a device-uri is assumed in this section.
With a single AirPrint printer on the network a partial output from /usr/sbin/lpinfo -v could be:
network dnssd://HP%20ENVY%204500%20series%20%5BFAFAC2%5D._ipp._tcp.local/?uuid=1c852a4d-b800-1f08-abcd-308d99fafac2 network socket://192.168.7.235:9100 network ipp://envy4500.local:631/ipp/print
The snmp backend has found the printer will accept jobs on port 9100 (socket://192...). CUPS will not set up an everywhere queue using this URI because it is unable to query the printer with it.
The ENVY 4500 has also been discovered from the printer's Bonjour broadcasts using the dnssd and ipp backends. Both these URIs are equally stable and can be used for driverless printing, with a dnssd URI being preferred if the ipp URI is using a numeric IP address.
The device-uri for the printer can also be found with the ippfind or driverless utilities. ippfind locates DNS-SD advertised printers and queues. driverless (a cups-filters utility) lists IPP printers only.
ippfind (Shows IPP printers and print queues). ippfind -T 5 (Possibly more reliable). ippfind ! --txt printer-type (Show IPP printers only). driverless (To get the device-uri). driverless list (For the device-uri and printer metadata). driverless <device-uri> (Generate a PPD for the printer at <device-uri>).
A queue for driverless printing from a client is now set up with
lpadmin -p <print_queue_name> -v <device-uri> -E -m everywhere
The everywhere model causes the printer referred to by the -v option to be queried. A list of printer capabilities is returned and a PPD is automatically generated by CUPS for use by command line programs and applications.
It may be preferred to have the PPD generated by cups-filters, so first find the driver URI (driverless:ipp://...) with
and create the queue with
lpadmin -p <print_queue_name> -v <device-uri> -E -m <driver URI>
If the -v option is the URI of a queue on a remote CUPS server, this technique can create a driverless queue on the client for a remote non-raw queue. This is the method employed when CUPS sets up a temporary queue on a client.
Creating a Driverless Print Queue with the CUPS Web Interface
Some familiarity with the CUPS web interface is assumed in this section.
Open the web interface and choose Administration. Select Add Printer.
Your printer will be under the Discovered network Printers:, probably with more than one entry. Choose the entry that contains the word driverless and move on to Continue.
Check that Connection is ipp://... and continue to the next page.
Under Model there should be options of IPP Everywhere and driverless, cups-filters. The first option uses the CUPS PPD generator and the second the cups-filters PPD generator. Select and activate Add Printer.
Creating a Driverless Print Queue with system-config-printer
Some familiarity with system-config-printer is assumed in this section.
Start system-config-printer and choose Add followed by Network Printer.
Highlight the printer entry and choose the Driverless IPP entry.
Moving on has system-config-printer searching for a driver, auto-generating a PPD with the cups-filters generator and offering a screen to describe the printer. Choose Apply when done.
system-config-printer cannot use the CUPS PPD generator.
Creating a Driverless Print Queue with cups-browsed (Short Version)
Edit /etc/cups/cups-browsed.conf to uncomment the directive below:
systemctl restart cups-browsed
cups-browsed version 1.27.1 changed the default for CreateIPPPrinterQueues to All. Considering that cups-browsed is a recommended package for cups-daemon, this change should lead to making IPP printers immediately visible and available on a bullseye installation.
Creating a Driverless Print Queue with cups-browsed
This method leads to discovery of an AirPrint or IPP Everywhere printer and the automatic set up of a print queue with lpadmin. A PPD for the queue is created using the cups-filters PPD generator. The CUPS PPD generator may be used instead; see the UseCUPSGeneratedPPDs directive in the cups-browsed.conf manual. The PPD is used to display printer options for command line programs and in applications. There are just two operations a user has to carry out:
Edit /etc/cups/cups-browsed.conf to set the CreateIPPPrinterQueues to All or Driverless and restart cups-browsed.
CreateIPPPrinterQueues All CreateIPPPrinterQueues Driverless systemctl restart cups-browsed
cups-browsed version 1.27.1 changed the default for CreateIPPPrinterQueues to All. Considering that cups-browsed is a recommended package for cups-daemon, this change should lead to making IPP printers immediately visible and available on a bullseye installation.
- Check the existence of the queue and its options with
lpstat -t lpoptions -p <queue_name> -l
The device-uri should begin ipp://.... The queue name is got from lpstat -t.
- The queue persists provided the printer is switched on and cups-browsed is running.
With the CreateIPPPrinterQueues directive cups-browsed sets up a queue for a remote printer. With NewIPPPrinterQueuesShared Yes in /etc/cups/cups-browsed uncommented the printer is shared with other machines on the local network.
cups-browsed supports also a kind of legacy driverless printing. This means that some other common PDLs such as PostScript, PCL-XL, and PCL 5c/e are supported and also older IPP versions (1.x). Note that missing capability information can be replaced with default values and that implementations of these languages in the printers are often not reliable, so that, in contrast to official driverless printing, printing often does not work perfectly. Note that the PCL of HP inkjets does not work and therefore cups-browsed does not auto-create queues for this PDL.
IPP-over-USB: The Basics
The previous methods to set up driverless printing with CUPS are presented in the context of a network-only connection (wireless or ethernet). They require the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) for querying the capabilities of the printer so that the PPD can be generated. They also need IPP to send option settings to the printer (as IPP attributes).
Fortunately, driverless printing is not confined to the network only but also works in exactly the same way via USB using the IPP-over-USB daemon, ipp-usb. ipp-usb serves for using the device via USB; this is fully independent of whether there is also a network connection available between the computer and the printer. A recent AirPrint printer should support IPP-over-USB. The support situation regarding USB-only post-2012 printers has yet to be completely clarified, but it is known that such devices are not guaranteed to understand the protocol.
The IPP USB specification describes an extension to USB that defines a standard for making IPP available over a USB Print class interface, and is intended to allow USB connected devices to achieve functional parity with network connected devices using IPP. In other words, whatever can be done over a network connection may also be done over a USB connection. A USB connected printer is therefore seen as a network printer when IPP-over-USB is used.
The previous sentence indicates that users employing the CUPS web interface or system-config-printer should be looking under network printers to establish a connection with the printer.See SystemPrinting for more detail.
It should be straightforward and reliable to use a printer or multi-function device via ethernet or WiFi and, in general, there are advantages to this type of connection. Some reasons why a user may want or have a preference for a USB connected MFD or printer are:
A local network does not exist and Wi-Fi Direct is not offered by the device.
- The local network is regarded as operating unreliably.
- The computer is USB-only.
- The MFD or printer is USB-only.
- The user sees setting up a network connection as an extra complication to avoid.
- The MFD or printer is rarely used. When it is, it is simpler and easier just to plug it into a USB port.
- The user values having a USB connection as a fallback method for printing.
- Sending confidential documents via USB is mandated as being more secure than sending them over a network.
Whether a printer can use IPP-over-USB may be determined by executing lsusb -v|less and searching for the lines containing bInterfaceClass.*7. A bInterfaceProtocol line should be found a few lines below each bInterfaceClass line. Look for bInterfaceProtocol 4.
Alternatively, execute lsusb -v | grep -A 3 bInterfaceClass.*7
A value of 4 for bInterfaceProtocol indicates a USB IPP device:
bInterfaceClass 7 Printer
bInterfaceSubClass 1 Printer
The interface is usually referred to as being a 7/1/4 one.
IPP-over-USB: Automatic Discovery and Setup
Beginning with version 2.3.3-2 the cups-daemon package installs ipp-usb as a recommended package. When an IPP-over-USB device is connected to the computer, systemd will use /lib/systemd/system/ipp-usb.service to start the daemon. cups-browsed is also installed by default, so, because the USB connected printer emulates a network printer, it will auto-create a driverless print queue for the printer.
The result is that the USB connected printer becomes immediately available for printing to. Nothing else need be done. Manually setting up a driverless print queue is also an option.
Note that IPP-over-USB reserves the USB interface connection with the printer/scanner exclusively for itself and communication with a printer/scanner device by software that does not operate using the IPP-over-USB protocol becomes impossible while ipp-usb is running. This is a consequence of the design of USB communication. It is not a bug in ipp-usb.
For example, a print queue for an HP MFD can be set up with a vendor driver and PPD, but printing to it will not take place because the software does not use the IPP-over-USB protocol. The same holds true for all other drivers, free or non-free. Only driverless print queues will work with IPP-over-USB. It would be as well to remove existing queues based on vendor drivers to avoid the appearance of non-working queues in print dialogs. Removing vendor packages (free or non-free) from the system is also something to consider.
Communicating with a USB connected scanner via classic SANE backends such as libsane-hpaio, sane-pixma or sane-epson2 also becomes impossible with the ipp-usb daemon active and running.
Expecting the non-free Brother and Samsung backends to work would also be unreasonable. Only driverless backends will work with IPP-over-USB. A good solution to have reliable scanning with IPP is to install the independent SANE backend, sane-airscan, in addition to the official SANE backend,sane-escl, that comes with libsane1. sane-airscan is a highly regarded backend that interworks with IPP-over-USB very well. A non-working SANE backend may be made invisible to a frontend by commenting out the appropriate entry in /etc/sane.d/dll.conf or /etc/sane.d/dll.d.
An important idea underlying IPP-over-USB is having the ability to expose the local USB-connected printer only to localhost and not to the entire local network. This condition is fulfilled by using at least version 0.8-1 of avahi-daemon.
If it is desired to share the printer on the local network or with iOS and Android devices, alter the interface parameter in /etc/ipp-usb/ipp-usb.conf to all.
IPP-over-USB: Investigation and Troubleshooting
Remember, although the actual physical connection is a USB one, the device has effectively become a networked device advertised on localhost by default, not to the local network. All the usual network commands may be used in addition to the CUPS commands.
- Determine the state of ipp-usb:
systemctl list-units "ipp-usb*" | grep service systemctl status ipp-usb
A portion of a typical output from avahi-browse -rt _ipp._tcp is shown below. Note that the DNS-SD advertisment is on localhost. The port used is not 631 because this is claimed by cups-daemon. ipp-usb takes the printer's DNS-SD name (usually configurable via the printer's web interface and often known as the Bonjour name), adds a space followed by (USB) as a suffix to it and uses the resulting string for announcing the printer. The port number is incremented when additional printers are attached to the USB bus. avahi-browse is in the avahi-utils package.
= lo IPv4 ENVY4500 (USB) Internet Printer local hostname = [desktop.local] address = [127.0.0.1] port = 
Access the printer's EWS for administrative tasks via a browser:
If cups-browsed is not on the system or it hasn't generated a print queue, not even after re-plugging the printer, a user has the option of creating a driverless print queue using the CUPS web interface, system-config-printer or lpadmin. But keep in mind that the IPP-over-USB printer is seen as a network device and be sure always to look under network printers with both of these setup solutions. Ignore the temptation to set up a local USB connection even though the device is on USB. Under the model/driver entries look for entries containing driverless or IPP Everywhere.
Obtain a URI for the printer by executing:
Install an IPP-over-USB device as a local print queue with lpadmin using either the CUPS PPD generator or the cups-filters PPD generator:
lpadmin -p <chosen_printer_name> -v <URI> -m everywhere lpadmin -p <chosen_printer_name> -v <URI> -m driverless:<URI>
lpstat -l -e shows all available destinations on the local network. ENVY4500_USB_ is the queue name or destination created by CUPS for an IPP-over-USB printer. It is formed from what ipp-usb sees as the printer's DNS-SD name. ENVY4500 (USB). ipp://ENVY4500... is the URI of the printer. Having permanent instead of network indicates a destination that has been auto-setup by cups-browsed or installed with lpadmin, the CUPS web interface or system-config-printer.
ENVY4500_USB_ network none ipp://ENVY4500%20(USB)._ipp._tcp.local/ envy4500usb permanent ipp://localhost/printers/envy4500usb ipp://ENVY4500%20(USB)._ipp._tcp.local/
- List the printer or print queue specific options and their current settings. These options should also be presented in the print dialog of an application:
lpoptions -p <destination> -l
USB print queues previously set up with vendor drivers (HP, Brother, Canon, Samsung etc) will amost certainly cease to work, so they become candidates for deletion. In fact, a user could consider removing the vendor software completely as it doesn't provide any useful function unless it is intended to switch between IPP-over-USB and vendor drivers.
Some devices have firmware bugs and are specially handled in quirk files at /usr/share/ipp-usb/quirks/*.conf. The syntax used in a *.conf file is explained in the ipp-usb manual. Versions of ipp-usb released after the Debian 11 version additionally allow an /etc/ipp-usb/quirks directory to be created. The files for system quirks in this directory override those in the system directory.
A small number of devices announce the presence of 7/1/4 interfaces but do not deliver IPP-over-USB support. Due to firmware bugs they fail to work with the protocol. From version 0.9.22 onwards, ipp-usb deals with such devices by detaching itself immediately from the USB bus to allow the USB interfaces to be used by legacy/classic print queues and scanners.
CUPS 2.2.4 and Driverless Printing
CUPS' ability directly to browse the DNS-SD (Bonjour) broadcasts of remote print queues and printers, previously absent, was introduced in CUPS 2.2.4. This means that a system with CUPS 2.2.4 or later, such as Debian 10 (buster) onwaeds, will display remote queues and IPP printers with lpstat -e and in the print dialogs of some applications without cups-browsed being on the system. No action on the part of the user is required.
cups-browsed is still needed on Debian 8 (Jessie) and Debian 9 (stretch) for remote queue management.
Essentially, CUPS itself browsing the local network uses its CupsGetDests and CupsEnumDests functions to discover shared queues and IPP printers that can be printed to and makes them available for display in an application and by lpstat. Whether or not the application displays them correvtly depends on the chosen application and the Debian distribution in use.
Printing from lpstat or an application to a destination enumerated as described above leads to the formation of an on demand, temporary queue. A temporary queue is intended to last for a minute only after being accessed. Its disappearence leaves the enumerated destination in existence.
lpstat -a only shows queues of the local CUPS daemon and not DNS-SD advertised queues or printers. lpstat -e and lpstat -l -e additionally enumerate queues and printers that can be accessed on the network.
The Qt print dialog of applications like okular and qpdfview enumerates remote, shared queues and printers.
The libreoffice print dialog behaves the same way as the Qt dialog.
the GTK print dialog on buster and before (firefox and evince, for example), has its own way of dealing with a network printer. Unfortunately, applications that print through this dialog do not make use of CUPS' temporary queue formation. To have a queue for an IPP printer visible and usable, users should manually set up a queue with lpadmin, the CUPS web interface or system-config-printer or rely on cups-browsed to do it for them. The situation on bullseye and later has improved.
Many modern IPP printers have support for Wi-Fi Direct. This standard allows for direct printer-to-device communication, bypassing any router or access point (AP). In fact, it does not need a router or traditional wireless network. The internet cannot be accesssed via Wi-Fi Direct.
Activate Wi-Fi Direct on the printer from its front panel or its EWS. Make a note of the Wi-Fi Direct Name and any password, passcode or PIN that has been entered.
Disconnect from the local wireless network using whatever application you are comfortable with. The printer provides a wireless AP. Connect to this, giving the Wi-Fi Direct Name, (the SSID), and password (the PSK) you chose earlier. A suitable stanza for /etc/network.interfaces would be
allow hotplug <interface> iface <interface> inet dhcp wpa-ssid <Wi-Fi Direct Name> wpa-psk <passord>
Check that association with the AP has been made using iw: iw dev <interface> link.
- A print queue may now be set up automatically with cups-browed or manually with any of the techniques described earlier.
Duplicate Print Queues
The entries shown in the print dialogs of applications are the names of existing or potential print queues. The existing queues have been set up manually or automatically with cups-browsed. A potential queue is an on demand queue. The existing queues may also be enumerated with lpstat -a. Additional entries from lpstat -e are potential queues.
It can happen that a user observes that the print dialog contains two entries with slightly different names for the same physical printer. The two entries are often referred to as duplicate entries or duplicate printers. The user expects to see only one list entry and confusion may result from being unsure which entry should be selected from the dialog list.
The default behaviour of the printing system is to install a queue for a network or USB connected printer with cups-browsed. For unknwown reasons, but possibly due to habit, the user proceeds to install a queue manually for the same printer. This results in a duplicate entry in the print dialog. It is a user-induced duplication and revealed from the output of lpstat -a. The solution is to let the printing system do its job and remove the manual queue or not install it in the first place.
A second cause of duplicate entries occurs when the GTK print dialog is used with the default printing system and probably seen on buster. The DNS-SD broadcasts of any remote print server or IPP printer are directly browsed to produce a dialog entry. cups-browsed browses the same DNS-SD broadcasts and also populates the dialog, leading to duplicate entries. CUPS is not involved in producing the GTK dialog entry, so the solution awaits the efforts of GTK developers.
In normal circumstances an on demand, temporary queue entry should not appear as a duplicate entry because cups-browsed takes over the entry and creates a local queue with it. Okular, LibreOffice and GTK applications on bullseye show this behaviour. Without cups-browsed and with a manual queue, a duplicate is possible. The solution is to give the manual queue the same name and device URI as the potential queue displays in lpstat -l -e. CUPS will then use the permanent, manual queue.
It is possible to use IPP-over-USB and have an ethernet or wireless connection to the printer at the the same time. There will be two entries in a print dialog. The solution is obvious!
CUPS and Driverless Printing: Miscellaneous
AirPrint and IPP Everywhere printers generally have a web interface for administration. For an ethernet or wireless connected printer it is accessed in a web browser with
http://<IP_address or hostname of the printer>
For a USB connected printer using ipp-usb the URL is
The hostname can be obtained from the output of avahi-browse (see below). Make sure that IPP support and Bonjour broadcasting on the printer are enabled. The configuration options will probably be accessed under a Networking link and it could be that activating AirPrint is sufficient to activate both services.
Install avahi-utils (or avahi-discover) and run avahi-browse:
avahi-browse -rt _ipp._tcp
Bonjour-advertised IPP printers are now identified. Look for entries beginning URF=... and pdl=... . If URF=... exists and pdl=... contains image/urf you have an AirPrint printer.
For an HP Envy 4502:
For a Brother MFC-J650DW:
URF = SRGB24,W8,CP1,IS1,MT1-8-11,OB9,PQ4-5,RS300,OFU0,V1.2,DM3 pdl = application/octet-stream,application/vnd.brother-hbp,image/pwg-raster,image/urf,image/jpeg
The pdl entry for the MFC-J650DW has image/pwg-raster. This printer will accept and print PWG raster files. It could be an IPP Everywhere printer, but that all depends on whether it fulfills all the criteria necessary for the manufacturer to self-certify it with the Printer Working Group (PWG). However, the presence of image/urf is a strong enough indication that the printer's IPP implementation is sufficient for driverless printing to be used with CUPS.
Driverless printing usually allows only adjustments on printing as they are thought out by the printer manufacturers. A printer driver like Gutenprint allows a lot fine tuning that goes far beyond a manufacturer's possibilities. This driver may suit photo enthusiasts more than a driverless solution. Having said that, the quality of text or images printed with rastertopwg is yet to be challenged.
Purchasing a printer with Apple raster and/or PWG raster capability means looking at the box containing the printer and printer brochures and manuals. AirPrint has been going for some time so it is usually fairly prominent as a feature in the literature. IPP Everywhere is much newer and may not be adertised.
Driverless printing is available on Debian 10 (buster) and Debian 11 (bullseye) for an ethernet or wireless connected printer. A USB connected device is catered for on bullseye via the ipp-usb package.
ipp-usb is not provided for buster. However, its author distributes a package that functions, provided the device is exposed to the local network by editing /etc/ipp-usb/ipp-usb.conf and having
interface = all
A permanent driverless print queue may be set up manually using lpadmin, the CUPS web interface or system-config-printer. The queue can use either the cups-filters PPD generator (driverless) or the CUPS PPD generator (everywhere).
A local driverless print queue may also be automatically set up via cups-browsed. This technique uses the cups-filters PPD generator (driverless) and is the default setup when the cups package is installed. The queue behaves no differently from one set up manually with the same PPD generator.
A temporary driverless print queue using the CUPS PPD generator (everywhere) may also be automatically accessed via CUPS. The extent to which applications interact with CUPS to take advantage of this facility when cups-browsed is not active is open to investigation.
The future of CUPS does not lie with PPDs, but, for the present, they are employed so that a traditional CUPS print queue can be driven.
The ability to scan on Debian 10 and 11 with an MFD is enhanced by installing sane-airscan.
Didier 'OdyX' Raboud <firstname.lastname@example.org> for guiding and supporting CUPS 2.2.2, cups-filters and cups-browsed through the experimental archive and into unstable; also for packaging ipp-usb and sane-airscan; Till Kamppeter <email@example.com> for his integration of cups-filters and cups-browsed with CUPS 2.2.2; also for producing a patch to allow IPP-over-USB to work on localhost with Avahi and encouraging Trent Lloyd <firstname.lastname@example.org> to apply it. Michael R. Sweet <email@example.com> for developing the rastertopwg filter to support Apple raster. Alexander Pevzner <firstname.lastname@example.org> for the creation of ipp-usb and sane-airscan.