Summary: Connecting a Laserwriter IIg to a Sun Sparc via Ethernet

From: Sandiway Fong (
Date: Tue Jan 21 1992 - 17:24:15 CST

About a month or two ago, I posted a query to the net asking about how to hook
up an Apple Laserwriter IIg to a Sun Sparcstation via the IIg's Ethernet port.
I'm happy to report that this is actually easy to do. Moreover, in informal
testing I've found the Ethernet port to be very fast, especially on large
files. Because of the number of e-mail messages I received on this subject, I
thought it would be worthwhile to post the following:

HARDWARE: You need to buy an Apple Ethernet transceiver - doesn't come
                with the printer.
                They come in three varieties (thin,thick and twisted-pair).
                The thin coax one also comes with a 2m self-terminating cable.

SOFTWARE: You need to get a print spooler (for the Sun) that supports
                AppleTalk Phase 2. There are many different products on the
                market, I'm not sure if they all work. I(We) tried two in the
                obvious order:

                1. CAP (free) - Unsuccessful
                Actually, I didn't do this. The systems support people here
                were able to get it working to the extent that Macs running
                MacTCP could print to the IIg (via the Sun), but the Sun
                itself couldn't.
                (I'm not aware of the details or how many patches were
                applied, so I'm not claiming that CAP couldn't work. But, it
                doesn't, at least, "right out of the box". Also, see later

                2. K-Spool 6.04 from Xinet (commercial) - Success
                This did work "right out of the box", well, sort of.
                Installation was very smooth.

                Unfortunately, the observed performance was terrible. I ran a
                few tests which confirmed my suspicions: in many cases, it was
                much slower than LocalTalk or a 9600 serial line! It seems
                that the IIg is sufficiently different from previous Apple
                Laserwriters to require an update to K-Spool.

                On the Ethernet, the IIg took a long time to print the first
                page and it continued to show "busy status" well after the
                last page was printed. These delays were the reasons why the
                Ethernet port seemed much slower. Xinet tech support said that
                it was an accounting problem and sent me a patch (K-Spool
                6.07). The problem was eliminated.

PERFORMANCE: I ran quite a few informal tests. Let me just report one
                particular case, a 6.3MB color postscript file on the IIg -
                with PhotoGrade - grayscale - enabled. (The bottleneck
                obviously being the data transfer time.) Time taken to print
                the (single) page was only 4.5 mins. Not too bad at all. (On a
                serial connection: @9600 >2 hrs, @19200 >1 hr.)

                I'm interested in knowing how a SparcPrinter would do on the
                same example. Unfortunately, we don't have one here to test.


Dr. Sandiway Fong
NEC Research Institute Inc.
4 Independence Way
Princeton NJ 08540

(609) 951-2733 (609) 951-2482 (FAX)

-- Dr. Sandiway Fong NEC Research Institute Inc. 4 Independence Way Princeton NJ 08540

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