Printing via Sneakernet

Not everyone has a printer attached to their computer and many of these people also don't have their computer hooked up to a network to allow them to print to a remote printer directly from their's. Some of these people may have occasional access to another computer that they can use to print their documents (for example at a friend's place).

For people in this situation "sneakernet" is the way that they get their document from their computer onto the one that has the printer attached. What they do is to copy the document from their computer onto removable media (such as a floppy disk). Carrying the removable media they then walk to the other computer (hence the term sneakernet) and then copy the files from the removable media onto the computer with the printer attached.

This works fine when all of the necessary fonts and applications are installed on both computers and you remember to copy all of the necessary files to the removable media. This method has problems when the appropriate application or fonts are not available on the computer with the printer attached.

The solution to this is to obtain a copy of the printer driver for the printer you intend to use to print your document and install it onto your computer. I know you don't have the printer actually attached to your computer but that doesn't stop you from installing the printer driver. You configure the printer driver to output to FILE: instead of to any of the ports on your computer (since the printer isn't actually attached to any of those ports). This enables you to "print" from the applications on your computer just as if you have that printer attached but instead of getting a printed document you get a file on your computer with a .PRN suffix instead.

All that you need to do now is to copy the .PRN file to your removable media. This file is application independent and has all of the necessary fonts and image files embedded within it so you don't have to worry about any of those problems.

The final step that needs to be performed on the computer with the printer attached is to print the document. To do this you open a command prompt and type in the following command (substituting your filename for myfile.prn and the correct printer port for LPT1:)

copy myfile.prn LPT1: /b

This will copy the file directly to the printer. As the file is already correctly formatted for use with that printer (assuming that we used the correct printer driver) the document will print exactly the same as if the printer had been attached to the computer where we created the document.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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