Printing from ancient history

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Over the summer we tested a lot of things, one of which was Windows 7 in the computer labs. The other thing was Office 2010 in the labs. We did learn one thing, though.

Word 2010 files printing to an HP LaserJet 9050 with the Microsoft-supplied PCL5 driver yields some straaange page-counts on the printer.

Most people wouldn't care about this, since most people only look at the printer's page-counter once a quarter if that often. We care about it since we use that number for auditing. Students only get so many pages a quarter, and PCounter allows the use of the printer's page-counter as a double-check to driver-counted pages. It'll ding the user the amount of quota for paper that came out of the printer.

We were getting cases where a file with 7 pages would cause the printer to report it had printed 593 pages. Or in one case last week, a 19 page document dinged the user 2239 pages; more paper than the printer can hold. In every case it was a DOCX file that did it, on a printer using the PCL5 driver.

The fix is to use the PCL6 driver, which we're doing now. Historically we've avoided the PCL6 driver for reasons that our lab managers haven't made clear to me. They just don't work right, apparently. There are 'some issues'. Their labs, so I've rolled with it. But we're on PCL6 since that works with Office 2010.

Then I did some digging on PCL5 vs PCL6 and came across the Wikipedia page with the timeline. PCL5c/e, the version we're using, was introduced in 1992. Wowzers. PCL6 was introduced in 1995. I guess 15 years is enough time to get a printer description language right, eh?

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Yeah, in the old job we tended to stick with PCL5 drivers if available primarily for the CAD users. We had more than a few complaints when we used PCL6 where you'd find random portions of the CAD drawing would be missing on printout. Run it through PCL5 drivers and things would come out fine.

Haven't seen this issue much elsewhere though. Tend to stick with PCL6 these days.

[Side note... Since the move to mt, the link for 'Diary of a network geek' is wrong and points to the ittoolbox blog for the security investigator]