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Harmonious Printing with Mac OSX and Citrix. . . Finally!

Posted by Server@Work | Jun 2, 2015 5:00:00 PM

I can't speak for all technicians out there in the IT world, but I’d like to go on record anyway with this bold statement.

Getting full-featured printing in Citrix using Mac OSX as a client is a challenge.

There, I said it.  Mind blowing? Shocking? No, it’s not. I’m just being dramatic. Frustrating? For me it was. Pull up a chair and grab a drink. Lemme tell you a story about how I got Macs and Citrix printing to play nice with one another.  

Snow_Leopard_Desktop.pngWe recently picked up a new client that only uses Mac OSX. This client also prints. I know this story is already getting unbelievable, but hear me out. For the majority of users in the scenario, out of the box, the Citrix Universal Print driver (CUP for short) works well enough. You’ll get a printer in your Citrix Session and you’ll be able to print what most people want to print, monochrome, letter, A4, and a few other paper sizes. Our client has a color copier with multiple trays and also a wide format printer. They need color and lots of it.  They also need the ability to print to 11x17, to have the option to choose their paper trays, and to be able to print outrageous paper sizes from their wide format printer.  Welp, the CUPS driver is out.  It doesn’t have any of those printing preferences available. Now what? 

Naturally, the next thing I tried was to install the native printer driver on the Citrix farm that the local Mac OS client uses and have it map the full-featured driver to their session printer. Providing the native driver doesn’t crash the print spooler on the Citrix server, (Stress Printers, is your friend) which can happen if it’s a bad driver, this solution can work great. I’ve had success with this method using PCL based drivers, but… Darn, Macs use Postscript drivers. When printing with a Postscript driver the print spooler generates a very large file. In some cases, this file can get to be 200 Megabytes or more. This massive file has to be pushed from your farm to the printer over the internet. Unless you have a very fast Internet connection between sites, it can take 20 minutes or more to print one job. That’s not gonna work either.  

At this point I started searching for a third party solution. I found Cortado Thinprint.  Cortado has developed its own type of printer driver called the Thinprint Output Gateway. This driver uses compression making print jobs so much faster. More importantly, Thinprint is able to send the local printer properties/options/tray assignments of the local printer and allow them to be used inside the users’ Citrix session. It has several methods available to get around any type of obstacle you may have with cloud printing. I decided to give it try. Before I go any further, this solution will cost money. Check out their pricing on their web site. I feel that the licensing is fair well worth the cost in the long run. Thinprint is not just a solution for Mac printing, it’s an all-encompassing cloud printing solution. I won’t get into that in this article however, Let’s talk about how I addressed the mac issue with Cortado.  

 In the case of our client with solely macs, I opted to install a Central Print Server in our data center and install Cortado’s ThinPrint Engine on it. Next, I installed a local network print server on the client’s site using an inexpensive but capable Windows 7 PC. On this, I installed Cortado’s Thinprint Client. Using Cortado Thinprint magic and some firewall tweaks I was able to successfully print from our hosted Windows VDI to beastly printers without invoking Postscript or the Macs client-side printing.  The print jobs spool and print almost instantaneously. Yay!

Of course, there’s much more to it than that.  There’s also many different ways you can deploy and configure Cortado Thinprint.  I certainly recommend reading all of the manuals in their entirety. Unfortunately, if you’re not a Product Documentation reader, you need to become one. It takes a bit of patience to digest all of the features and configuration options and can seem overwhelming at first. But once it all clicks together, it can be the perfect solution for seemingly impossible cloud printing problems.

Server@Work is a Cortado Partner and implementer of all things Cortado.  For challenging cloud printing issues we also host Cortado servers and help install remote print servers to ease print jobs through the inter-webs.

Topics: Citrix, ThinPrint, Mac, Cortado, OSX, Printing

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