Deploying Google Cloud Print: Setup, Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

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Why Google Cloud Print?

Google Cloud Print allows you to share specific printers with your users, regardless of what OS, computer, mobile device, or location they’re in. For the modern user, who may have a laptop, tablet, desktop, and smartphone at their disposal Google Cloud Print represents a freedom from tethers like being on your network, accessing printers directly, interacting with drivers — all the things that typically make printing suck for users and administrators alike.

Benefits of using GCP:

  • Platform Agnostic: the ability to print from devices running Chrome or various Google applications
  • BYOD friendly: as long as the device or laptop in question can connect to the internet and log into Google you can print from it. No need for directory services, drivers, etc.

What do you need to get started?

To get started with PaperCut administered Google Cloud Print queues you’ll need the following:

  • A Google Apps account specifically for managing printing with Google Cloud Print. This can be a standard Gmail account, or a dedicated Google Apps account. We’ll call this your Cloud Management account going forward.
  • A PaperCut server with queues to be shared over GCP
    • Novell Users: you’ll need to have a Secondary Server running Linux with CUPS based printing, Mac OS X, or Windows set up. Unfortunately we have no way to integrate GCP directly with Novell.
  • Google Apps accounts must be associated with all PaperCut users who will be printing. This means the email address for the Google account needs to be assigned to each PaperCut user.
  • The ability to communicate with talk.google.com on TCP port 5222 from your PaperCut Application Server; see under the Debugging Google Cloud Print Connectivity Issues heading in our Troubleshooting GCP Issues Knowledge Base article for instructions on how to confirm this.
  • Recommended: Google Apps admin access to create groups for sharing print queues with your users. For smaller, ad-hoc sites this may be less of an issue.

Connect to the Cloud:

As described in the manual add your designated Cloud Management account into the PaperCut Admin Console in Mobile/BYOD.

Once you’ve connected this account to PaperCut and set up a test print queue in the PaperCut Admin Console go to the Google Cloud Print console and share the test queue with a Google Apps account associated with an existing PaperCut User.

From a Google Apps service send some test jobs from the existing user, and ensure that print jobs are tracked by PaperCut and are printing or being held as should be expected for the test queue.

Please Note: do not sign into Google Chrome with the Cloud Management account on a desktop computer with printers connected to it. This may lead to automatic printer sharing by Google Chrome, which may lead to unexpected behavior, and erroneous printers being created.

Managing deployments for Chromebooks

Many customers with fleets of Chromebooks want to be able to deploy these print queues to the Chrome devices directly using Google Apps Admin Device controls. Unfortunately when the print queues are deployed this way, then print jobs submitted will arrive from an email address that contains a Device ID instead of a username. This means that PaperCut is unable to determine what user submitted the job.

A feature request has been logged for Chrome to “Include logged in user or session when printing via device credentials”. https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=414510.

For the time being, we recommended sharing the print queues with the Google users or groups via the Sharing interface instead.

To ensure that all group members can print there will need to be an Owner of the group, and the Owner account will need to accept the share. Please note, you can create the group with only the owner account present, accept the share, add all other users, and then remove all ability for others to post to the group. For very large sites it may be worth looking into 3rd party Google Apps management software that streamlines group creation.

If you only have a small handful of Chromebooks or don’t mind collecting all of the on device “@chrome-enterprise-devices.gserviceaccount.com” accounts, you can set up a Google Group containing all of these device email addresses. This is especially handy for Chromebook labs where you want to limit sharing to specific devices, and are not concerned with which users are printing, but rather where printing is happening. However, it should be noted that there will need to be PaperCut accounts associated with the “@chrome-enterprise-devices.gserviceaccount.com” device email addresses.

It’s also worth checking out How to automate the sharing of GCP printers.

Google account types and suggestions:

While any sort of Google account can be used to create and set up Google Cloud Print printers, if you are a Google Apps for Business, Education, Government, or Non-Profit customer setting up a dedicated internal Google Apps account for use as your Google Cloud Print management account is a highly advisable solution.

Whatever sort of Google account you decide to use, it should be an account dedicated and expressly for use with Google Cloud Print and should be properly secured to prevent unauthorized access or modification.

As noted earlier, it is a best practice not to sign into Google Chrome with the Cloud Management account on a desktop computer with printers connected to it. When you sign into Google Chrome with a Google Apps account it may lead to the printers on that system being automatically shared out, which can lead to confusion and issues going forward with your deployment.

Ad hoc setup:

For organizations that aren’t Google Apps subscribers you can absolutely set up Google Cloud print in an ad-hoc fashion and allow users to connect with their personal Google (Gmail) Accounts.

As with the Google Apps for Business/Education style setup, you’ll need to have everyone’s Google account in PaperCut, and also share the Google Cloud Print queues with the users as well.

For these sorts of ad hoc setups you can either set up and manage a Google Group (groups.google.com) for sharing, or by manually adding additional users to the specific printers from Google Cloud itself.

Google Apps Disruptions and Downtimes:

Like any service, there are occasionally disruptions to Google Cloud Print. If you receive reports of widespread downtime it’s a very good idea to check http://www.google.com/appsstatus to see if either Google Talk or Google Hangouts have been impacted. Google Cloud Print uses the same underpinning services as Talk and Hangouts, and they can serve as canaries for connectivity issues.

Critical Caveats:

As Google notes on the Google Cloud Print site, GCP is still a product in beta. While it is not uncommon for Google Projects to be in beta for extended periods of time (like Gmail being in beta for five years) there are some things that should be considered before making GCP a key part of your printing infrastructure:

  • Keep up to date:
    • make sure your server PaperCut install is kept up to date. For best results stay on the latest version of PaperCut — we’re constantly updating our GCP support as evidenced by https://www.papercut.com/products/ng/release-history/
    • make sure the host OS(es) your PaperCut install relies on are also kept up to date.
  • Beta ≠ bullet proof.
    • Sometimes things will go down. Do not rely entirely upon GCP as your only printing solution, or, be prepared for the occasional, very rare outage.
  • Betas aren’t forever.
    • There is the chance that Google might suddenly cut support for GCP one day, as it has done for other products like Wave or Reader.
  • Try a reboot.
    • If GCP stops working, try restarting your PaperCut Application Server. Don’t jump straight to deleting all of your shared printers, disabling GCP, etc.
  • Let us know when you have issues.
    • If you run PaperCut NG, always feel free to if you encounter issues with GCP. If you run PaperCut MF, first touch base with your PaperCut partner or reseller, whose contact details can be found in the Support section of the About tab in the Admin web interface.

Categories: Google Cloud Print,Implementation / Deployment, Troubleshooting

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Article last modified on February 02, 2018, at 08:01 PM
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