SUMMARY: NeWSprint and SPARCprinter problems

From: John Valdes (
Date: Tue Oct 12 1993 - 04:23:08 CDT

Hello all,

A few weeks ago, I reported having problems with NeWSprint 2.0 and a
SPARCprinter on a SS2 running 4.1.2. The problems I reported were
random kernel panics when printing, and the SPARCprinter print queue
emptying when the printer's paper tray emptied (see my original post
attached below for full details). Well, with the help of sun-managers,
I've fixed one problem (print queue emptying), and I sort of have an idea
of what's causing the other (kernel panics).

Regarding the kernel panics, the majority of the respondents said that
this is a hardware problem with the SS2; apparently, some revisions of
the SS2 motherboard have a bad cache ASIC which conflicts in some
unspecified way with NeWSprint. Unfortunately, I didn't receive any
details on how to identify the suspect chip or motherboard, except for
the fact that those ASICs made by AT&T don't have this problem. The
"fix" is to replace the motherboard (sheesh!), or to move NeWSprint and
the SPARCprinter to an SS2 with the newer ASIC or to another SBus
equipped Sparc. Unfortunately, we neither have hardware maintenance, nor
do we have another Sparc available to serve as a NeWSprint server. It
wasn't clear from the information I received whether all versions of
NeWSprint are susceptible to this problem or not; thus I'm not sure
whether upgrading our version of NeWSprint will cure the problem.
Other suggestions I received included:

1) upgrade to NeWSprint 2.1b and SunOS 4.1.3 (as I said, I don't
   know whether this will fix the problem)
2) reseating the the SBus card (I haven't tried this, but it's certainly
   worth a shot)
3) install patch 100444 (xnews 3.0 patch)

No one commented on using Ghostscript instead of NeWSprint. The latest
version (2.6.x) includes a driver for the SPARCprinter. This may be
the solution I adopt; I've used Ghostscript with other printers and
have been very pleased with the results.

Fortunately, I received a solution to my second problem (queue emptying).
The last reply I received, from Paul Dodd ( hit the nail
right on the head:

>From: (Paul Dodd)
>Subject: NeWSprint and SPARCprinter problems
>I can't help you with #1 much, but we had problem #2 until 30 minutes ago,
>when I fixed it. In the queue directory (eg /usr2/newsprint/sparc for us
>cuz the printer name is sparc) there was a file called 'status' that had this
>-rw-r--r-- 1 root daemon
>and I changed it to:
>-rw-rw-r-- 1 root daemon
>You see, daemon was trying to update the status log to indicate the paper had
>run out, and failing. Try a 'tail -f log' of the printer log and let
>the printer run out of paper when jobs are queued and watch what error
>shows up...fix that error, and your queue problems will be gone.

Our status file had ownership root.daemon w/ permissions 644; changing
the permissions to 664 fixed the problem.

Thanks to all who responded:

Jason Andrade <>
Jim Craven <>
Ike Stoddard <>
Lee Melvin <melvin@isis.cgd.ucar.EDU>
Mark Almeida <mealmei@srv.PacBell.COM>
Glenn Satchell <>
Paul Guthrie <>
Paul Dodd <>

My original post follow below.

John Valdes Department of the Geophysical Sciences University of Chicago


Original question:

>We have an SS2 running 4.1.2 (generic kernel) with a SPARCprinter
>(original model) attached to an SBus SPARCprinter card. We are using
>NeWSprint 2.0 with the "small" OpenWindows kit included with NeWSprint,
>but are having two major problems.
>1) Random crashes. With (apparently) random print jobs, the system will
> crash with a kernel panic (BAD TRAP). Although the process causing
> the panic (or at least the process running at the time of the panic)
> varies, the panic is always the same:
> vmunix: BAD TRAP
> vmunix: pid 10588, `engine_ctl_SPARCp': Data fault
> vmunix: bad kernel write fault at addr=0xd0268280
> vmunix: Sync Error Reg 80<INVALID>
> (The write fault address varies also). Guilty processess include
> engine_ctl_SPARCprinter, xnews and postreverse.
>2) Whenever the paper tray in the SPARCprinter empties, so does the
> print queue for the printer! All print jobs, including the current
> job, disappear from the queue w/o printing.
>3) Add your NeWSprint problems here...
>Are there any fixes for these problems, or does a newer version of
>NeWSprint cure them (or should I junk NeWSprint and use ghostscript
>instead)? Thanks in advance for any assistance; I will summarize.
>BTW, we're using the lpvi.o driver that came with NeWSprint 2.0 for
>controlling the SPARCprinter card.


Status: RO

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