Robotic Tendencies
The personal blog of Robert McQueen

March 21, 2005

Blog moved

My registration for has now completed, so it is now the canonical URL for my blog. I will replace with annoying redirects, and take it off-line after a while (it’s primarily the domain for my family’s e-mail).

posted by ramcq @ 2:15 pm
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March 21, 2005


I was trying to quickly (always a mistake) configure a printer on my (sarge) laptop the other day using GNOME CUPS Manager, which I’d previously been very impressed with when it had Just Worked(tm) on a friend’s Ubuntu box. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work for me, because unlike the one in Ubuntu, didn’t realise I was in the lpadmin group and didn’t need to become root to add a printer, and also unlike the one in Ubuntu, asksed for my root password and not my sudo password, because it or gksu hasn’t been patched, but invoked gksu wrongly, so it didn’t work anyway – I had to use the web interface. I certainly remember that whilst working on a project using GNOME CUPS Manager over the summer, I had to patch it to work with our setup (and not crash if you forget to install the icons *g*). Does anyone except Debian not patch it and expect it to Just Work?

Looking at the Ubuntu package, recognising I’m in the lpadmin group and hence not needing to become root to manipulate the printers is a patch they have applied. It relies on the assumptions that CUPS is running on localhost, and that some bloody-minded admin hasn’t renamed the lpadmin group to something else – these are true on Ubuntu, but not necessarily on any given Debian box. How do we solve this for Debian so our GNOME CUPS Manager Just Works – if the server’s on localhost, read the configuration file to see what the admin group is, or is there a sensible way to find that from the server?

This is probably one of many examples where Debian packages aren’t as usable as the Ubuntu equivalents because Debian users are more likely to challenge the assumptions. Strictly speaking, there shouldn’t need to be this usability gulf between an almost-identical group of packages in Debian and Ubuntu. What’s the right strategy to solve these kinds of problems elsewhere?

As a side note, how is foomatic actually supposed to work if you don’t cheat and install all of the pregenerated PPDs in the foomatic-filters-ppds package?

posted by ramcq @ 2:11 pm
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