How to install and configure Provision Networks Virtual Access Suite (VAS) Enterprise Edition (Part 4)

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Anyone who has managed a Windows Terminal Services environment can testify that printing has been a problem since day one. The problems that exist are:

  • System stability – the installation of 3rd party printer drivers not designed for use on a multi-user system like Terminal Server can cause failures in applications, the Windows Printer Spooler and the Windows Server Operating System
  • Manageability – maintaining a consistent set of stable printer drivers, while fielding constant requests to support new printer models is difficult and time consuming. Additionally, many Windows System Administrators are not scripting experts, so mapping the appropriate Network Printers via logon script can be challenging, especially in complex environments
  • End user frustration – printing is a function that should just work, and when it doesn’t it frustrates users, resulting in a loss of productivity and helpdesk calls. Use of more stable Windows Printer Drivers often results in loss of functionality.
  • Bandwidth Congestion – sending print jobs across a Wide Area Network (WAN) or the Public Internet in their PCL or Postscript format can consume enormous amounts of bandwidth which costs money and impacts end user perceived performance.

Print-IT completely addresses each of these issues:

  • System stability – Uses a single Universal Printer Driver that was designed for Terminal Services and has been in use on Terminal Services and Citrix since 2001, so there is little chance of system stability due to printing. This Universal Printer Driver supports both Client and Session Printers, so there is no need to install 3rd Party Printer Drivers on Terminal Servers.
  • Manageable – There is no need to replicate printer drivers, or worry about what kind of printers end users and business units purchase, as Print-IT fully supports all printers regardless of make or model. Printers can be mapped via the Provision Management Console based upon User, Group, OU, Client IP Address or Client Name, without writing a single script. If using Citrix, these same printers can be mapped via Citrix Session Printer Policy.
  • End user productivity and reduced support costs – printing just works, the way users would expect.
  • Bandwidth Compression – print jobs are compressed and sent across the network in Enhanced EMF or PDF Format. This compression and intelligent font embedding drastically reduce printing bandwidth requirements and causes print jobs to start and complete more quickly.

Print-IT Server Components

  • Universal Print Driver (Print-IT) – Universal Client Printer Auto-Creation:  This is installed by default on Windows Terminal Services, and when installing PNTools on Virtual Desktops.
  • Universal Print Driver (Print-IT) – Universal Network Printer Auto-Creation:  This feature enables mapping of Network Printers shared on a Windows Print Server or Dedicated Print-IT Network Print Server.
  • Print-IT Control Panel Applet: This control panel applet is used to configure the features of Print-IT on a Windows Terminal Server, and can replicate those settings to other Terminal Servers.

Universal Network Print Services

  • Universal Network Print Server Extensions: This feature is installed on a Windows Print Server or dedicated Windows Server to enable printing to Network Printers via the Universal Printer Driver.  These printers can be assigned to Terminal Server Sessions via the Provision Management Console or to Citrix Sessions via Citrix Session Printer Policies in the Presentation Server Console (if Print-IT is installed on a Citrix Server).
  • Universal Print Relay Service for Remote Sites: This feature is installed on a Windows Print Server, dedicated Windows Server, or even a Windows Client OS (like Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP) that is not in the same site / location as the Terminal Servers.  This enables administrators to assign the remote site printers to Terminal Server Sessions via the Provision Management Console or to Citrix Sessions via Citrix Session Printer Policies in the Presentation Server Console (if Print-IT is installed on a Citrix Server).  This also allows print jobs that transverse a Wide Area Network to be compressed in EMF or PDF format until they are processed by the remote print server. 
  • Print-IT Client: The Print-IT Client is part of the Virtual Access Suite Web and AppPortal Clients, and can be installed separately on systems only using Print-IT functionality of Virtual Access Suite.  The Print-IT client is only necessary to auto-create printers defined on the client machine.

Installation of Print-IT Server

Print-IT consists of two features when installed on a Terminal Server:

  • Universal Client Printer Auto-Creation. This feature installs EMF and PDF Universal Printer Drivers and does not require the Provision Management Console. This enables the auto-creation of printers that are defined on client devices with the Print-IT or Virtual Access Suite Client installed.
  • Universal Network Printer Auto-Creation. This feature installs PNShell and the Provision Management Console to support mapping of Network Printers, Shared on a Print-IT Enabled Windows Print Server, or a Dedicated Print-IT Print Server. This feature is not displayed as selected by default, when installing Virtual Access Suite Enterprise on a Terminal Server, because other Power Tools for Terminal Servers install PNShell and the Provision Management Console.  If performing a standalone installation of Print-IT on a Terminal Server, Universal Network Printer Auto-Creation must be selected to map Network Printers via the Provision Management Console.  The only exception to this rule would be if Print-IT is being installed as a standalone component on a Citrix Server, where Policies in the Presentation Server Console will be used to map Network Printers.

The installation of Print-IT Server is a default option when installing Virtual Access Suite Enterprise or Standard Edition on a Windows Terminal Server.  It can also be installed by itself if Print-IT licensed separately. Virtual Access Suite is licensed per concurrent user, whereas Print-IT and other Power Tools for Windows Terminal Services are licensed per Terminal Server.

When this feature is licensed and installed as a standalone component, it does not require the Provision Database, Provision Management Console or a Connection Broker.  These components are required when installing any of the “Universal Network Print Services”.

Figure 1

Configuration of Print-IT Server features

The Print-IT Server installation installs two Print Drivers on Windows Terminal Servers.

Figure 2

Print-IT Server features are configured via the Print-IT Control Panel Applet.  The original Print-IT Driver is in PDF Format.  This driver is no longer the default driver used by Print-IT, because it has known limitations.  The newer Print-IT EMF Driver is an enhanced EMF File Format that includes intelligent font embedding.

The features of Print-IT Server can be configured via the Print-IT Control Panel Applet, pnupcfg.cpl.

Figure 3

On the General tab of the Print-IT Control Panel, the administrator can:

  • Set the Print Data Format from the default EMF, to PDF.
  • Select which client printers can be auto-created.
  • Specify if client printers shall be auto-created synchronously or asynchronously.  Asynchronously means that the printer will continue to be created after the application or desktop launches, whereas synchronous means that the application or desktop will not launch until the client printers are created.
  • Define whether printers will be created with full permissions, if the printers will be deleted at session disconnect and whether the default printer on the client will become the default printer in the Terminal Services Session.

Figure 4

On the Compression tab, the administrator can define the level of Data and JPEG Compression. The default values are usually appropriate for most installations. 

Figure 5

The Client Printer Naming Convention can be altered to meet the requirements of the business.  One problem that exists with some applications is that Terminal Server Client Printer Names change at each logon, due to the dynamic nature of the Terminal Server Session ID.  Options exist that do not append the Session ID to the Client Printer names.  These options to drop the Session ID should not be used in situations where users logon simultaneously with the same account on multiple clients, as users could print to each other’s printers, and the default printer could get reset.

Figure 6

The administrator can limit how much bandwidth can be sent through the Universal Printer Virtual Channel in the RDP or ICA Protocol in each user’s session.  This prevents a large print job from consuming the total available bandwidth.

Figrue 7

If using the standalone Print-IT product, the administrator can select a Print-IT client that will upgrade user’s previous version clients. The Print-IT client is built-into the Virtual Access Suite Client, so this option should not be used with Virtual Access Suite Enterprise or Desktop Services Editions.

Figure 8

The PDF Publisher tab allows the administrator to enable a PDF Printer on client devices, as part of the Print-IT Client.  With this option enabled clients can print to PDF, instead of to a physical printer (if necessary).

Figure 9

From the Server Farms tab, the administrator may propagate the Print-IT Control Panel Settings from the current Terminal Server to other servers in the farm.

Figure 10

On the logging tab debug logging can be enabled for Print-IT Printers and the Print-IT Port Monitor, and print job statistics can be written to the Event Log.

Installation of Universal Network Print Services

The installation of Universal Network Print Server Extensions is performed on existing Windows Print Servers or dedicated Print Server(s) at the same location as the Terminal Servers. 

Figure 11

This feature installs the Print-IT Universal Printer Drivers and the Provision Management Console. These enable the creation of Print-IT Printer objects that forward print jobs to the destination print queue where the print jobs are processed with the native print driver.

The installation of Universal Print Relay Service for Remote Sites is performed on existing Windows Print Servers or dedicated Print Server(s) at a remote site. This feature does not install the Provision Management Console

Figure 12

Printers from this Print Relay Server are imported into a Universal Network Print Server at the main site.  These printers from the Print Relay Server may be assigned to Terminal Services Sessions in the same manner as printers at the remote site.  The connection between the Universal Print Relay Service for Remote Sites and Universal Network Print Server at the main site is done via a port that is configured by the administrator.

Figure 13

The Print-IT Remote Site Relay Control Panel (pnuprelay.cpl) is used to

  • Configure the listening TCP Port for the service
  • Enable encryption for the communication between the Print-IT Servers and the Remote Site Relay Server
  • Limit the bandwidth for the printing traffic between the sites

Figure 14

  • Select the Printers to be exported to the Print-IT Server at the main site.

Adding Print Relay Servers to the Provision Management Console

Figure 15

Open the Provision Management Console -> Resources -> Printers

Figure 16

Select “Manage Print-IT Servers” -> Click “Site Relay”

Figure 17

On the “Manage Relay Servers” tab, click “Add”.

Figure 18

Enter the NetBIOS Name or IP Address of the Print Relay Server.

Figure 19

Click “OK” to create a new Site.

Figure 20

Enter a descriptive name for the Printer Relay Site.

Figure 21

Enter a two character suffix that will be appended to the printers that are imported from the remote site to Print-IT Servers.

Figure 22

Enter the encryption passphrase that was created on the Relay Server.

Figure 23

Select the available bandwidth for the printing link between the Print-IT Server and the Print Relay Site.

Figure 24

On the “Import Remote Printers” tab, click “Import Now” to import the printers that were exported via the Print Relay Control Panel.

Figure 25

Figure 26

Review the printers that were imported from the Print Relay.

Add Print-IT Printers to the Provision Management Console

Open the Provision Management Console -> Resources -> Printers -> Manage Print-IT Servers -> underneath right pane -> Click “Add”

Figure 27

Browse the Network to any Windows Print Server and select the Shared Printers to add to the Print-IT Server.

Figure 28

Review the results to verify that the Shared Printers were created on the Print-IT Server.

Figure 29

Review the list of printers that have been added to the Print-IT Print Server.

Figure 30

Select the Properties of a Print-IT Printer to review and/or change the Print Data Format (PDF or EMF) and associated Performance Options.

Figure 31

Change the Print Data Format to EMF, unless there is a specific reason to use PDF.

Assign the Print-IT Printers to Clients

Figure 32

On the Access Control List, assign clients to the Print-IT Printers, and specify if the printer should be default printer in the assigned client’s Terminal Services Session.  Like any other application or resource, Printers may be assigned to Users, Groups, OUs, Client IP Address Ranges or Client Naming Conventions.

Using the Print-IT options in the Virtual Access Suite Client

The Print-IT Client options only pertain to auto-created client printers, not to Print-IT Printers assigned via the Provision Management Console.

Figure 33

When connected to a Terminal Services or Virtual Desktop Session, right-click on the Virtual Access Suite Client in the System Notification Area -> Select “Client Properties”

Figure 34

On the General Tab the end user can select (if enabled on the server) whether to auto-create the default printer, local printers, network printers or specific printers, i.e. two network printers and one local printer.

Figure 35

On the bandwidth tab, the end user may select a lower amount of bandwidth to be used for “client printing” than was defined on the server.

Figure 36

The logging tab is used to capture debugging information if there is a problem with the client. 

Figure 37

In the PDF publisher options fly-out menu, the end user may specify (if enabled on the server) whether print jobs sent to the PDF Publisher shall be saved to file, or inserted into a new email message.

The “Apply additional printer properties” option allows the private attributes of the Manufacturer’s Printer Driver to be exposed.  This is often the first thing to have the end user check if they are having problems accessing features of a client printer.

The “Preview before printing” option is fairly self explanatory, and performs a local print preview of a print job before it is sent to the printer.

Figure 38

When printing from an application, review the naming convention of the assigned printers.  The names of the printers can be altered in the Provision Management Console.


Print-IT is a very mature, stable, scalable and easy to manage Universal Printing Environment.  These features can be installed and configured in less than an hour, after which “printing should just work”.  After Print-IT is installed and configured, administrators should be able to remove all 3rd party printer drivers from the Terminal Servers.  As with anything else, testing should be done in a controlled environment before making changes to the production environment.

If you would like to read the other articles in this series please go to:

If you would like to be notified when Patrick Rouse releases the next part of this article series please sign up to the Real time article update newsletter.

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