Setting Up the Printer Hardware
Connecting printers to a Unix system is no one's favorite activity because it can quickly become a time-consuming task. Many printers are on the market, each with a unique interface.
The type of connection depends on the connectivity options available on the printer. Most modern printers have either an Ethernet or USB connection. If Ethernet or USB connectivity is not an option, a parallel connection is the preferred method. If no parallel option exists, the final choice is a serial connection.
Most modern printers provide an option to add an Ethernet interface. A printer with an Ethernet connection is referred to as a network printer. A network printer is a hardware device that provides printing services to print clients without being directly cabled to a print server. It is a print server with its own system name and IP address, and it is connected directly to the network. The Ethernet interface might be internal or external to the printer. Using an Ethernet interface to install a printer is recommended in particular because of its speed (10Mbps or 100Mbps).
If your system has a parallel port, you simply connect the printer to the Sun system by using a Centronics parallel cable. Some Sun systems do not have parallel interfaces at all, so you might have to add a parallel interface by purchasing a parallel interface from Sun.
Some printers support both parallel and serial connections. Sometimes a printer is connected via the serial interface because the Sun system does not have an available parallel interface. Connecting a device by using a serial interface requires a thorough understanding of serial transmission. This method of connecting a printer is the most difficult because of the complexity in establishing the proper communications settings between the computer and the printer. It is also slower than other methods.
Most modern printers support USB connection, but some older Sun systems do not. If your Sun system has a USB port, this option provides a plug-n-play interface that is also hotswappable, which allows devices to be plugged in and unplugged without the system being turned off. USB is intended to replace serial and parallel ports.