SUMMARY: SPARC to Apple LaserWriter IIG connection

From: Ray Smith (
Date: Thu Jul 01 1993 - 01:51:50 CDT

        Here is a summary of the responses I got regarding hooking up an
Apple LaserWriter IIG to a SparcStation. Although there wasn't alot of
technical meat in my original question most folks understood the problem
and were very helpful. Others were not so forgiving.


P.S. I apologize for the double mailing. The first message went out
with an old address and when I hadn't seen it in over 24 hours I
figured it might have gotten lost. Most people were forgiving of this
as well.

Thanks to the following folks:
From: uunet!!mrmach (Mark R. Mach)
From: Andrew J Cole <uunet!!ajcole>
From: uunet!!cameron (Cameron Humphries)
From: Arie Bikker <uunet!!aribi>
From: uunet!!bukys
From: "Chris Phillips" <uunet!!chris>
From: uunet!!mandrews (Mike Andrews)
From: uunet!!merworth
From: Mauricio Daher <uunet!!mau>
From: Phill St-Louis <uunet!!phill2>

and even:
From: uunet!!ray

First the original query:

Fellow managers,
        I received the following message from a colleague in one of
our other offices. I looked through my archives (about 5 years of Sun
stuff in a full-text database) and couldn't find anything conclusive.
There were a couple of messages that mentioned trying to hook a IIG up
and having problems but there were no concrete solutions. I thought I
would turn toward this group for help. Anybody care to enlighten us?

Thanks in advance,

P.S. I am not sure if they have Transcript or one of the other ASCII
to PostScript converters.


We have successfully connected our SUN SPARC to the Apple IInt printer;
however, we have been unsuccessful connecting to the Apple IIG printer.

Has anyone had this similar problem and, more importantly, has anyone been
successful in connecting a SUN SPARC to an Apple LaserWriter IIG printer?

SUN says if we get NEWSPRINT, it will facilitate this; however, we also know
that we should be able to make this connection without NEWSPRINT.
What's puzzling is that we connect to the Apple IInt successfully, so one
would think that you wouldn't have any problems connecting to the Apple IIG.


Now for the responses:
From: uunet!!mrmach (Mark R. Mach)
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 93 16:18:26 EDT

    I use CAP (Columbia Appletalk Package) which includes printer
filters that will redirect prints to a LaserWriter on the network.
We have two IIg's hooked up using this method, and they work great.

    You can get CAP for free via anonymous ftp from various sites -- being one that comes to mind.

Mark R. Mach,

============================================================================= From: Andrew J Cole <uunet!!ajcole> Date: Sun, 27 Jun 93 09:20:06 BST

Look at the info-appletalk there have been lots of problems mentioned there related to the LW IIg and many mentions of problems being solved by upgraded ROMs.


============================================================================= Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 09:39:40 +0930 From: uunet!!cameron (Cameron Humphries)

Are you connecting them via serial line or ethernet??

I had a play at connecting a IIg to an IPX via serial line and did not have any success at all.

Ethernet however is easy. Just grab the CAP package from and it will work with little effort.

-Cameron Cameron Humphries Systems Administrator email: Department of Computer Science phone: +61 +8 303 4485 The University of Adelaide fax: +61 +8 303 4366

============================================================================= Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 14:35:15 +0200 From: Arie Bikker <uunet!!aribi>


We did that once. If I recall correctly we put the IIg in mode 6 (19.2 Kb Postscript) with the switch on the back. The cable was a NULL modem, but I'm not shure about that, anyway, that's easy to check. We checked this setup with both NeWSPrint and Transcript with the following printcap entries: testIIg:\ :mx#0:br#19200:sf:sb:\ :xc#0177777:\ :ms=-parity,ixon,-opost:\ :lp=/dev/ttyqa:\ :sd=/var/spool/testnIIg:\ :lf=/var/spool/testIIg/log:\ :af=/var/spool/testIIg/acct:\ :if=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/if:\ :gf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/gf:\ :nf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/nf:\ :tf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/tf:\ :rf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/rf:\ :vf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/vf:\ :cf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/cf:\ :df=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/df:\ :of=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/of:

afp:\ :lp=/dev/ttya:sd=/usr/spool/afp:\ :lf=/usr/spool/lw/lw-log:af=/usr/adm/lw.acct:\ :br#19200:rw:fc#0000374:fs#0000003:xc#0:xs#0040040:mx#0\ :sf:sb:\ :if=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psif:\ :of=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psof:gf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psgf:\ :nf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psnf:tf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/pstf:\ :rf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psrf:vf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psvf:\ :cf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/pscf:df=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psdf:

The newsprint entry won't be of any good t you if you don't have it, but the transcript entry has all the flag settings in place.

Hope this helps,

Arie Bikker ___=======-----

------------------------------------ -- Drs. Arie Bikker -- -- Instituut voor Aardwetenschappen -- -- Vrije Universiteit -- -- Amsterdam Netherlands -- -- -- ------------------------------------

============================================================================= Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 09:13:32 -0400 From: uunet!!bukys

I would think that you could swap in a IIg and a IInt and everything would continue working.

Except that the IIg has or had serial ports problems. I recall Adobe issuing a patch to Transcript to work around them. A call to Apple Tech Support might discover whether new IIg PROMS were ever issued. (If they were I never heard about it.)

============================================================================= Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1993 10:34:33 -0400 From: "Chris Phillips" <uunet!!chris>

We have had problems with connecting the IIF LW to a machine where the distance was long for the rs232 connection. I believe that the Apple rs232 does not generate true rs232 wave forms(12v) but rather ttl (5v) wave forms and this causes a problem over distance. I have the printer working 98% reliably by modifying lprps to accept garbage from the apple (where the bad drivers show up) and continue to handshake with Postscript. But this is really a hack, as we are moving to a new building and a new set of problems anyway... A proper solution might be one of the rs232 "boosters" from Inmac or Blackbox, (They call them "mini" line drivers). We also considered ethernet printer boxes...

Chris Phillips (

============================================================================= From: uunet!!mandrews (Mike Andrews) Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 9:24:32 CDT

We're using an Apple IIg printer on our LAN. What kind of problem are you having? You should be able to connect via the serial port to a Unix host. We drive ours via serial and localtalk via a GatorBox.

It's configured for PostScript only. Actually the config disks for ours have been lost. We can't reconfigure the serial port or otherwise.

If you have the disks you can set the printer to emulate an HP LaserJet. It will not not auto-switch from PostScript to HP mode as far as I know.

Hope that helps some.

-- Mike Andrews |VideOcart, Inc. |Chicago, IL USA =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Think you've got problems? How many SHOPPING CARTS are on YOUR WAN?

============================================================================= Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 10:20:15 CDT From: uunet!!merworth


When we put an Apple IIG into service at our site, we had similar problems. It was attached to Appletalk and Ethernet. Our solution to the problem was to upgrade the memory of the IIG from 2Mbytes to 4Mbytes. Once this was done, we could access the printer from any of our systems.

Boyd Merworth The University of Texas System Center for High Performance Computing, CMS 1.154, Austin, Texas 78712 {harvard,gatech,uunet}!!merworth

============================================================================= Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 12:21:34 -0400 From: Mauricio Daher <uunet!!mau>

I'd go with what Sun said:

What NewsPrint will do for you is set up the correct serial line masks, and such so that you can make a connection to the LaserWriter. If you're not experienced in serial line connections, then it's worth it to START by running the NewsPrint install. You should use it anyway, it's much better than TranScript, but if you have to, TS also has a pretty good configuration script.

Anyway, try this:

Also check cabling: Should be null modem (2 and 3 crossed at least)

Have you tried tip'ing the printer?

edit /etc/remote add line


then type

tip cua0

assuming your printer is on /dev/ttya...change it accordingly.

Also is your Sun configured for RS232? The is a jumper on the CPU board of IPC's and SPARC2's that switches both ports between RS232c and RS423. The latter has higher line voltages, and could damage your LW, which uses RS232c, and maybe the problem you're having.

Your might also try adding the following lines to /etc/printcap: . :br#19200:\ :rw:\ :fc#0000374:\ :fs#0000003:\ :xc#0:\ :xs#0040040:

and make sure the LW is set for 19200baud, 8 databits, no parity, 1 stop bit, XON/XOFF. This should be switch position 2 on the LW thumbwheel.

Hope this helps...

--------------------------------------------- Mauricio Daher --------------------------------------------- System Manager for the Center for Educational Computing Initiatives --------------------------------------------- MIT E40-381 253-8651 ---------------------------------------------

============================================================================= Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 10:24:45 PDT From: Phill St-Louis <uunet!!phill2>

I have connected two IIg printers and two IINTX printers to our networks. Here is the printcap for the IIg that is connected using only 4 wires:

lp|LaserWriterIIg|ps|Data Centre:\ :lp=/dev/ttyb:\ :sd=/usr/spool/lpd/lp:\ :sh:\ :ms=ixon,-ixany:\ :lf=/usr/adm/ps-errs:\ :af=/usr/adm/ps.acct:\ :br#9600:rw:fc#0000374:fs#0000003:xc#0:xs#0040040:mx#0:sb:\ :if=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psif:\ :of=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psof:gf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psgf:\ :nf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psnf:tf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/pstf:\ :rf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psrf:vf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psvf:\ :cf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/pscf:df=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psdf:

The filters are from the Transcript software, which is a very old version in our case, but it works fine.

We had a problem with the setup of this printer. Nothing seemed to be coming out of the printer, no matter what we sent to it. When we added a form feed to the printcap, everything has since printed perfectly. I cannot remember which of the above chicken scratchings is the form feed. I just looked them up in the man pages back when I was working on the problem.

I am on vacation for one week after today, so if you have a question, you are going to have to ask it today or wait a week.


============================================================================= Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1993 09:33:56 +1200 From: uunet!!ray

This is the second time I have seen your message, but it still does not really pose a problem to be addressed. We have a LWIIg accessible from a network of Suns, through some magical Ethertalk Phase 2 Multigate box using the CAP software, but I do not know what to tell you about.

You do not pose your problem. How are you trying to connect? Serial? LocalTalk? EtherTalk? And what do you mean by "we have been unsuccessful connecting to the Apple IIG printer"? What does or does not happen when you try? to reboot? to print?

Try again to ask a real question.

Not trying to be negative, Ray Brownrigg

============================================================================= Date: Wed, 30 Jun 93 11:34:17 +0200 From: Arie Bikker <uunet!!aribi>


Yes, we have several running using both postscript and transcript. I think you could do without either software package, if you only print postscript. The output filter should then be a simple copy. First, here's my printcap entry for the IIg, commented out is the transcript version (BTW, I'm a profound non-believer of the distribution of printcap entries, See notes at bottom): #sedp:\ # :lp=/dev/ttya:sd=/usr/spool/sedp:\ # :lf=/usr/spool/sedp/sedp-log:af=/usr/adm/sedp.acct:\ # :br#19200:rw:fc#0000374:fs#0000003:xc#0:xs#0040040:mx#0:sf:sb:\ # :if=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psif:\ # :of=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psof:gf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psgf:\ # :nf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psnf:tf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/pstf:\ # :rf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psrf:vf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psvf:\ # :cf=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/pscf:df=/usr/tran/sparc/lib/psdf:

# entry for a local PostScript printer sedp|PostScript printer:\ :br#19200:rw:fc#0000374:\ :fs#0000003:xc#0:xs#0040040:\ :mx#0:sf:sb:\ :lp=/dev/ttya:\ :sd=/var/spool/sedp:\ :lf=/var/spool/sedp/log:\ :af=/var/spool/sedp/acct:\ :if=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/if:\ :gf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/gf:\ :nf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/nf:\ :tf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/tf:\ :rf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/rf:\ :vf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/vf:\ :cf=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/cf:\ :df=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/df:\ :of=/usr/share/newsprint/lpd/of:

Next you would need to set the printer to a specific communication mode. There is a button opperated number wheel on the back of the IIg. The printer manual explains the meaning of the numbers (I wish apple would stop their paranoia about user friendly-ness and put in a simple LCD screen with menu buttons in their printers). Mine has setting 6 which enables 19200 baud Postscript on the serial line using Xon/Xoff. The cable I use is an Xon/Xoff only darn anything else kind of NULL modem: 1---------------------1 2------\ /------------2 X 3------/ \------------3 4-+ +-4 | | 5-+ +-5 7---------------------7 6--+ +--6 | | 8--+ +--8 | | 20-+ +-20

So, that's how it should work. Now for some suggestions. If neither TranScript nor NeWSPrint is used an option might be to use the following minimalistic output filter (C code):

#include <stdio.h> /* skip all input until "%!" found */ main() { char c; int first = 0; while (0 <= (c=getchar())) { if (first == 2) { putchar(c); } else if (c == '%') { first = 1; } else if (c == '!') { if (first == 1) { first = 2; puts("%!"); } else { first = 0; } } } }

This is by now means an efficient way of doing it, but it effectively skips all input (banner information) until the sequence "%!" is found. I never did this with PostScript, but I have it running in a slightly modified way for an HP plotter.

When checking the connection a breakout box is very handy. The least thing it does for you is show that data is on the line.

Hope this helps,

Arie Bikker ___=======-----

------------------------------------ -- Drs. Arie Bikker -- -- Instituut voor Aardwetenschappen -- -- Vrije Universiteit -- -- Amsterdam Netherlands -- -- -- ------------------------------------ "Distrubuting printcap entries is a folly, unless accompanied by detailed printer setup instructions and cabling layout. Even then it is only of use for the flag clears and sets for a serial connection. What will we have next?

-- Ray Smith Computer Sciences Corporation 1321 Mercedes Drive Hanover, Maryland 21076 RCSmith@DOCKMASTER.NCSC.MIL Voice: 410.691.4000 FAX: 410.691.4070

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