AS/400 and ISeries Printing Primer

Understanding how the printer systems flow on the AS/400, iSeries and System i is a basic system administration function. Typically most of the issues that occur from day to day either have to do with jobs or printers, so it's important to be able to do basic troubleshooting of printing.

Now the way in which printable output is managed on the AS/400 platform is through the use of jobs, output queues and device descriptions. For the sake of this article jobs simply create spool files, like in the case of a report, and place it in an out. So we will start with the outq. But there can be some confusion regarding output queues because you can forgo the need to have a device description and use what is known as a remote output queue. Let me explain.

Device descriptions are like regular devices setup on your AS/400, iSeries or System i platform. Your regular "green screen" user logins, tape drive and so on have a device description that describe to the system what that device is and controls is connectivity.

Traditionally all printers where setup using a device description, and this is still true tolday if you are using twinax connections to hook up your printers. When you have a Client Access print session setup on a users workstation that also will automatically create a device description if you have the autoconfigure system value turned on.

But remote output queues are a bit different. They don't need to have a device description because they will talk directly to the printer. These type of outqs are typical in more modern settings where ethernet and TCP/IP are the preferred methods for connecting up your AS/400 system.

However you should stick with one method or the other when setting up your printers, that is either use device descriptions or remote output queues. Otherwise it can become confusing reallly fast. Another thing to consider is that not all printers support one method over another. For instance one time I tried setting up a name brand copier and after many frustrating hours I couldn't get a device description or remote outq to print on the darn thing. And I ended up having to create a user controlled printer session using Client Access to make it work.

Typically you will find on the more mainstream printers you can find that they do support TCP/IP based printing from an AS/400, iSeries or System i but need to be configured a certain way. It usually will help to do an Internet search for the model of printer along with the keyword as400 or iseries in the search string. This almost always turns up the correct parameters to configure your printer device or remote output queue with.

Finally from time to time your printers will get hung up and stop printing. The most obvious place to look is in the Work with Writers command WRKWTR and make sure the printer does not have a message waiting like a change of form type. From the WRKWTR command you can also toggle ending and starting the writer to see if that gets it rolling again. If that fails then usually working with the device descriptions using command WRKCFGSTS and varying the device off and on then restarting the writer almost always works.

John Andersen is the author of the Power System Jump Start that will help you master the AS/400 and iSeries in a couple short hours. Visit www.MidrangeJumpStart.com for more information.
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