60 Second Review: UniPrint 5.0

Even though Windows Terminal Services has been around in one form or another for nearly ten years, printing is almost as big of a challenge today as it was in 1995. Several software manufacturers make additional software to solve printing problems.

Even though Windows Terminal Services has been around in one form or another for nearly ten years, printing is almost as big of a challenge today as it was in 1995. Several software manufacturers make additional software to solve printing problems. Citrix and Tarantella build universal printer driver and replication technology into their products. Third party companies like ThinPrint, triCerat, and UniPrint also make products specifically designed to deal with printing challenges.

The UniPrint product can be used in two ways. The first option combines UniPrint with Terminal Server or Citrix’s auto client printing. This option makes use of a universal driver on the Terminal Server that sends PDF-formatted files to your client device where a UniPrint client agent handles the printing.

The second option makes use of a UniPrint Gateway. In this case, the Terminal Server sends the PDF files to the gateway instead of the client device, and the gateway then sends the files to the appropriate printer. You can also use the gateway to power a web-based printing portal that allows users to pick up and work with their printouts on a secure website.

Installation

When using the gateway option, the full UniPrint environment consists of three parts:

The first component is the so called UniPrint Spool Server. This is the server that receives the files from the Terminal Server servers and sends them to the print server. This software requires IIS with FTP enabled and several other components like MDAC, Windows Script Host and others. All of these components are available in Windows 2003, and the installation routine will automatically install them in older environments. The installation of the UniPrint Spool Server software is straightforward. After accepting the license agreement you need to specify the installation directory and the FTP Site directory. (UniPrint recommends that you install these components on separate servers.)  Also, UniPrint deserves a big “kudos” here for making their software cluster aware so you can set it up in a fault tolerant environment.

The second component is the UniPrint Print Server. This component needs to be installed on the Windows print server. It’s responsible for rendering the print jobs and directing them to the actual print queue. To install this component you need a configuration file called UniPrintGateway.ini. You can manually configure this file or use one that’s automatically created during the Spool Server installation (outlined above). The UniPrint Print Server installation is also simple. After accepting the license agreement you need to specify installation folder, the spool folder for UniPrint and the .INI file. This component can also be installed on clustered servers.

The third component needs to be installed on each Terminal Server and consists of two parts—UniPrint Plus and PrintPAL.

UniPrint Plus installs the UniPrint universal driver and imports the printers from the other UniPrint components. During the installation wizard you need to specify which components you use (just UniPrint or UniPrint and the UniPrint Gateway). Then (from of the INI file) the UniPrint Spool Server settings are displayed and can be altered if necessary. You can also choose your security mechanism (none, NT or AD).

Next the PrintPAL setup is started automatically. PrintPAL is a little utility that’s used to link printers to machines or machine groups. This enables users get the nearest printer(s) of the machine they are currently working on.

The PrintPAL installation requires three types of information; which components PrintPAL may use to discover machines for configuration (basic networking, directory service and/or Terminal Services), where the data of PrintPAL will to be stored (a file share) and a service account.
The UniPrint instruction manual discusses silent installation options for the UniPrint Spooler Server and the UniPrint Print Server. However, I can’t find any silent installation information for the UniPrint Plus on the Terminal Server itself, and this component could definitely benefit from an unattended installation option.

Configuration

All three components have their own configuration possibilities. We’ll first start with the UniPrint Printer Server, the component arranges the PDF file to be converted in a normal print job and sends that Job to the print queue. The Printer Server configuration tool consists of three tabs. On the first tab the Spool Server(s) are listed with their settings. There’s also a button to manually update the printer for the Spool Server. The second tab (called “advanced”) makes it possible to change real settings like the connection interval to the Spooler Server(s), which program needs to be used to convert the print jobs (Acrobat Reader or the UniPrint application), the spool needs to cleanup interval, and the Spool Servers printer update interval. This is a wonderful option, because it means that just by adding a print queue to s print server the printer is automatically available in UniPrint.

Since this process is automatic nothing needs to be changed or configured on the Spooler Server itself. The tool shows all printers (from the Printer Server) and it lets you make little changes like DPI settings, paper size, etc. Fortunately you can also set the most important setting (paper size) via global modifications for all printers.

In addition to the Printer Server configuration tools, two tools are installed on the Terminal Servers themselves. The first one is the UniPrint Configurator. This tool allows you to adjust all kinds of settings for printers and communication with the Spooler Server(s). The Printers tab lets you set all printer properties such as paper size, dpi quality, duplex, paper source, spooling and so on. You can also set the interval for synchronizing with the Printer Spooler. If you’re just the UniPrint Server on the Terminal Server instead of the centralized Spooler Server you can also configure it to update the client automatically.

The second tool installed on the Terminal Server is the PrintPAL utility that’s used to link printers to a machine. When the user logs on the Terminal Server automatically connects the printer(s) configured in PrintPAL for that user. You can search the complete network environment for machines and create and apply settings to groups of them.

It would be nice if there was a feature available that would allow you to replicate settings between all servers with the same functionality. As far as I can tell this is only available with the PrintPAL settings. PrintPAL settings are the most likely to need to be replicated, but it would be nice anyway for the others.

UniPrint also did a good thing in offering the option to load balance the Spooler Servers. Although I didn’t test this functionality, it looks pretty good.

Management

Every component is equipped with three additional tools for troubleshooting and management. Every server has several tools including:

  • Database Manager for checking the database entries and errors for the selected component
  • Connection Validator for testing the connections and transferring files
  • Object Reference Viewer to troubleshoot and check the status of several parts

All components also have log files which can be used to troubleshoot, and both the Print Server and Print Configurator debugging options.

User Experience

From the user standpoint, if UniPrint is doing its job then a user will never know it exists. Users should be able to click “print” and find a printed document of fine quality at the right printer (near their desk).

Conclusion

Although UniPrint has less options than ThinPrint it offers a good solution for most situations supporting auto client printing and a dedicated printer server in combination with a universal printer driver. All components work fine together with not much configuration after the first setup due to the replication technology between the two products. I really like that UniPrint makes is possible to install the software on cluster servers and the option to load balance the Spooler Servers. The troubleshooting options are adequate. I would love to see the option to share the configuration settings of UniPrint Configurator, Spooler Server and Print Server just like PrintPAL can.

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So maybe I've missed something, but there's no bandwidth conrol/throttling or compression? That's the sort of thing I'd be looking for to make things easier when printing to the remote locations.
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What version of Citrix are you referring to?
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List of whats missing for my client's environment too long to mention, but hey its fast and easy (and doesnt require me to do any extra reading). Would have been good to see actual testing of documents and how performance is. Yeah, I know its only a 60 sec. review. Thanks, anyway for the info!
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You are right it is impossible to mention all options and functionalities in a review (unless you are writing a complete book).

Uniprint is using compression to send the printjobs. It offers no option to control the bandwith used by the printjobs like for example Metaframe XP can do.
If bandwith is a very big issue take a look at thinprint (review available on my website sbc.vanbragt.net) because that has more option for that than Uniprint.

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For one, were looking for a decent way of compressing the print job. Sorry, but Acrobat/.pdf makes the print job much larger more often than not in our tests....and its reducing the quality of these printouts were seeing.
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In my testing depending on what options you select in the PDF, the quailty will be excellent. Since I always use 600-1200 DPI creating the PDF I really haven't noticed any picture quality loss.

For the person above asking about compression. Something I noticed when using uniprint was the option to compress the file to a JPEG. So not only is a PDF compressed but so are the images that where embedded in them.

On a personal note the one thing I like most about PDF is the ability to embedd the fonts if the remote client doesn't have the same font set.
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Did you guys get to test if special printing options work? I have a printer that staples and duplexes and sends the jobs to a special tray. Do you know if this will still work with regular uniprint.

I called Uniprint an they told me it would work, but I wanted a second opinion?
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Correct me if im wrong, but my tests found that by increasing dpi to 600 or 1200, you explode the print job size (higher resolution=more print data). Doesnt this defeat the purpose of compression?
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I did not have that options on the printer in the test. In the options you can configure duplexing and tray selection.

In the trial version you can test it if it works for you, the installation and configuration is pretty easy.
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Yeah your right if you increase DPI you do get a larger file but isn't that true with any solution?

I noticed that the setting in JPEG compression affect the compression more then fiddling with the DPI. When I did a test print from 300 to 600 DPI I was supprised that it only increased the file size form 59KB to 66KB on our print job.

How was it during your test?
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The duplex and tray selection was realy bad on the 4.0 version of Uniprint, if you are using the gateway functionality you can only turn duplex support on for all or none printers, so duplex option will show on printers that doesn't have dublex !
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Yes this will work.
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Uniprint 5 does have options for using Duplex, staplers etc.. but the options are set across the board which makes them kind of useless.

The newest Uniprint client offers bandwdith throttling options.

Unfortuntely the client is still a bit buggy with our environment and some documents don't print correctly, especially MS Publisher files.
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We're running a citrix farm consisting of (3) Windows 2003 server with Metaframe Presentation Server 3 with a stand alone print server (zebserv). I have several Wyse series 3000's (3150) thin clients that have a UNC path \\zebserv\"printer name" printer setup locally in the control panel of the Wyse terminal. But when they are logged into the citrix farm using Citrix Web Interface there isn't a default printer for the thin client. No printers are displayed. I was wondering have you experienced this issue and if so does UniPrint address this issue.

I'm wondering if anyone has a lead on this issue as well.

Thank You
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The UniPrint Gateway Module will allow you to easily print from a thin client device.
 
The Gateway solution involves installing a component on a Print Server in your environment.  The user chooses a specific Gateway Printer from their application on the Terminal/Citrix Server, and the component on the print server will then print on behalf of the thin client.
 
A trial version of the Gateway Module is available for free download from the UniPrint site at www.uniprint.net
 
 
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Hi
 
Installed uniprint on a citrix server. Now is the uniprint "printer" the default printer. This is not ment to be that way. It should be the printer the user choses.
How can we change this ?
 
Kind regards
 
Jeffrey
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its telling me the spooler is not on when Im trying to download my printer, How do I turn the spooler on
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Get to a command prompt and type:

Net start spooler

and press Enter.  Or go into the Computer Management console under services and right-click on Print Spooler and choose Start.

Shawn
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ORIGINAL: Guest
Hello Jeffery,
 
Try This
 
HKLM\software\microsoft\windows nt\currentversion\winlogon\appsetup
 
Remove the defaultprinter.exe from this entry.
 
regards,
 
Pete
 

Hi

Installed uniprint on a citrix server. Now is the uniprint "printer" the default printer. This is not ment to be that way. It should be the printer the user choses.
How can we change this ?

Kind regards

Jeffrey

Cancel

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