Printers, Group Policy and me. Wheee!

I have spent at least two hours a day in the last four days trouble shooting printer issues.  The printer in the main lab suddenly decided it did not want to take paper from the main tray, only the manual tray was going to work.  Of course nobody told me this has been going on for a couple of weeks.  After 30 minutes of tinkering I ordered a new printer.  The printer lasted ten years.  It was time.  That was an easy one.

Since I was touching printers I figured I would get the new(er) printer set up in the library.  The librarian had been waiting a couple of months for this so I figured it was time.  It would not deploy through group policy.  After about 4 hours of trying everything I called in a pro.  After an hour and a half of his time he figures out it is an incompatibility between the Server 2003 print server, Windows 7, the new(er) printer and the fact we need both the 32 bit and the 64 bit drivers.  Move the drivers to a Server 2008 machine, make it the print server and away she goes.  Of course this means I have to upgrade to Server 2008 or 2012 sooner than expected.  I was hoping to retire before that was needed.

Then I notice computers in the same Active Directory group are getting different printers.  Printers that do not exist anymore.  Printers that are no longer deployed.  Printers shared but not deployed through group policy from the other school.  I have at least a dozen printers shared locally in classrooms but only this one printer was showing up in wrong directory.  I think maybe the printer is stored in the local profile on the computer.  I delete the profile I am using.  Printer is still there.  I go home after school and have a couple of glasses of mead.  I come in the next day and delete all the profiles on the computer.  Printer is gone.  Must have been the mead.

Learning how group policy and printer deployment works by trial and error is an adventure.  I am convinced the system is haunted.  Maybe I have enough things networked together that the system is coming alive and is messing with me just for fun.  Either evil or a bad practical joker.  Then again a more realistic scenario is I do not have a clue how printers and group policy actually work.

The abiding question behind all this is – is this computer science?  I have to think, a lot.  I have to problem solve.  I have to second guess Microsoft.  I have to fumble around with Google or just get lucky with trial and error.  Yup, must be computer science.


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