Setting up Automatic Printer Driver Downloads for Windows Clients

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Revision as of 09:53, 27 September 2017 by Mmuehlfeld (talk | contribs) (Updated information about package-aware drivers. Rephrased intro text)


If you are running a Samba print server for Windows clients, you can upload drivers and preconfigure printers. If a user connects to a printer on the Samba server, Windows automatically downloads the driver and installs it locally. The user does not require local administrator permissions for the installation. Additionally, Windows applies preconfigured driver settings, such as paper sizes and the number of trays.

Supported Printer Drivers

General Information

Many driver are provided in a way that enables you to upload them to your Samba print server:

  • If the driver is provided in a compressed format, unpack the archive.
  • Some drivers are require to start a setup application that installs the driver locally on a Windows host. In certain cases, the installer extracts the individual files into the operating system's temporary folder during the setup. To use the driver files for uploading them to a Samba print Server, start the installer, copy the files from the temporary folder to a new location, and cancel the installation.

Ask your printer vendor, if the driver supports uploading to a print server for automatic download by Windows operating systems.

Supported Windows Printer Drivers

Samba only supports the printer driver model version 3 that is supported in Windows 2000 to 10 and Windows Server 2000 to 2016.

To use package-aware drivers:

The driver model version 4, introduced in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, is not supported in Samba. Use version 3 drivers instead.

32-bit and 64-bit Drivers

Printer drivers for the 64-bit Windows architecture, you can only upload from a Windows 64-bit operating system. 32-bit drivers you can upload from both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows operating systems.

To provide driver for both architectures, you must upload 32-bit and 64-bit drivers that uses exactly the same name for both architectures. For example, if you are uploading the 32-bit HP Universal Printing PS driver and the 64-bit HP Universal Printing PS (v5.5.0) driver for Windows, the driver names are different and cannot be used and preconfigured for the same printer.

Uploading Only 64-bit Drivers to a Samba Print Server

Using the default setting, Samba reports itself as Windows NT x86 architecture. Thus, 64-bit drivers stored on this print server can only be assigned to a printer if additionally a 32-bit driver with exactly the same name is uploaded. Otherwise, Windows does not display the driver in the list displayed in the printer's properties when assigning the driver.

To provide only 64-bit driver on the Samba print server:

  • Add the following setting to the [global] section in your smb.conf file:
spoolss: architecture = Windows x64
  • Reload Samba:
# smbcontrol all reload-config

Granting the SePrintOperatorPrivilege Privilege

Only users and groups having the SePrintOperatorPrivilege privilege granted can upload and preconfigure printer drivers. You can grant this privilege to any user or group.

For example, to grant the privilege to the Domain Admins group, enter:

# net rpc rights grant "SAMDOM\Domain Admins" SePrintOperatorPrivilege -U "SAMDOM\administrator"
Enter SAMDOM\administrator's password:
Successfully granted rights.

To list all users and groups having the SePrintOperatorPrivilege privilege granted, enter:

# net rpc rights list privileges SePrintOperatorPrivilege -U "SAMDOM\administrator"
  SAMDOM\Domain Admins

Setting up the [print$] Share

Windows downloads printer drivers from the print$ share of a print server. This share name is hard-coded in Windows and cannot be changed.

To share the /srv/samba/printer_drivers/ folder using the print$ share name:

  • Add the following section to your smb.conf file:
       path = /srv/samba/printer_drivers/
       read only = no
  • Create the directory:
# mkdir -p /srv/samba/printer_drivers/
  • Set the permissions on the share. Users or groups having the SePrintOperatorPrivilege privilege granted must be able to to write to the share. For example, to set write access for the Domain Admins group and read permissions for other users to be able to download the drivers:
  • Using POSIX access control lists (ACL):
# chgrp -R "SAMDOM\Domain Admins" /srv/samba/printer_drivers/
# chmod -R 2755 /srv/samba/printer_drivers/
  • Using Windows ACLs:
Set the following permissions using the Windows utilities:
Principal Access Apply to
Creator Owner Full control Subfolders and files only
Authenticated Users Read & execute, List folder contents, Read This folder, subfolders and files
Domain Admins Full control This folder, subfolders and files
For details, see Setting Share Permissions and ACLs.
  • Reload Samba:
# smbcontrol all reload-config

Samba automatically creates the architecture subdirectories on the print$ share when uploading a driver.

Creating a GPO for Trusting the Print Server

To avoid installing malicious drivers from untrusted sources, Windows asks you if you trust the print server when you preconfigure a printer or when a user installs a printer. Create a group policy object (GPO) to trust the Samba print server and work around the known issues introduced by the Windows print spooler security update:

  • Log in to a computer using an account that is allowed you to edit group policies, such as the AD domain Administrator account.
  • Open the Group Policy Management Console. If you are not having the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed on this computer, see Installing RSAT.
  • Right-click to your AD domain and select Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here.
GPMC Create GPO.png
  • Enter a name for the GPO, such as Legacy Printer Driver Policy. The new GPO is shown below the domain entry.
  • Right-click to the newly-created GPO and select Edit to open the Group Policy Management Editor.
  • Navigate to the Computer ConfigurationPoliciesAdministrative TemplatesPrinters entry.
GPME Computer Printer GPOs.png
  • Double-click to the Point and Print Restriction policy to edit the policy:
  • Enable the policy and set the following options:
  • Enable Users can only point and print to these servers and enter the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) to the field.
  • Select Do not show warning or elevation prompt in both the When installing drivers for a new connection and When updating drivers for an existing connection list.
GPO Point and Print Restrictions.png
  • Click OK.
  • Double-click to the Package Point and Print - Approved servers policy to edit the policy:
  • Enable the policy and click the Show button.
  • Enter the print server's FQDN. For example:
GPO Package Point and Print Approved Servers.png
  • Close both the content and policy properties by clicking OK.
  • Close the Group Policy Management Editor. The GPOs are automatically saved on the Sysvol share on the domain controller (DC).
  • Close the Group Policy Management Console.

Wait until the Windows domain members applied the group policy automatically. To apply the policy manually:

  • Reboot the domain member.
  • Run the following command using an account having local administrator permissions:
> gpupdate /force /target:computer

Connecting to the Print Server Using the Print Management Console

To connect to the Samba print server:

  • Log on to a Windows host using an account that has the SeDiskOperatorPrivilege privilege granted and write permissions on the print$ share.
  • Click Start, enter Print Management, and start the application.
  • Right-click to the Print Servers entry and select Add/Remove Servers.
  • Enter the name of the Samba print server in the Add servers field, and click Add to List.
Print Management Add Print Server.png
  • Click OK.

When you are connected to the print server, you can perform certain tasks, such as uploading drivers and preconfiguring printers.

Uploading a Printer Driver to a Samba Print Server

To upload a printer driver:

  • Navigate to the Print Servers entry, double-click your print server, and right-click to the Drivers entry.
  • Select Add Driver.
  • In upcoming wizard, select the architecture you want to upload a driver for, and select Next.
  • Click Have Disk and navigate to the folder containing the printer driver for the selected architecture.
  • Select the driver to upload from the list.
  • Click Finish to start uploading the driver to the print$ share.
  • After uploading, the driver is shown in the Drivers menu.
Print Management Driver List.png

Optionally, upload drivers for additional architectures.

Assigning a Driver to a Printer

Using the Print Management Console

To assign a driver to a printer using the Windows Print Management console:

  • Navigate to the Print Servers entry, double-click your print server, and select the Printers entry.
  • Right-click to the printer and select Properties.
Print Management Printer Properties.png
  • When no driver is associated with the printer, the following warning is shown:
Print Management Driver Not Found Message.png
Click No. The driver is selected in a later step from the list of uploaded drivers.
  • Navigate to the Advanced tab and select the driver from the list. For example:
Print Management Select Driver.png
If you uploaded only a 64-bit driver and the driver is not displayed in the list, see Uploading Only 64-bit Drivers to a Samba Print Server.
  • Click OK to set the driver for the printer.
If a warning is displayed, cancel the operation and set up a group policy to trust drivers provided by this print server. For details, see Creating a GPO for Trusting the Print Server.
Trust Print Server Warning.png
  • After the driver is assigned to the printer, Windows automatically renames the printer to the name of the printer driver. It is recommended, to manually reset the name to the printer name set in the smb.conf file:
  • Right-click to the printer and select Rename.
  • Reset the printer name to the name set in the smb.conf file, and press Enter.
  • If the printer list is not refreshed automatically, press the [F5] key.

Using the Samba rpcclient Utility

To assign a driver to a printer locally on a Samba print server using the rpcclient utility:

  • List all drivers available on the print$ share:
# rpcclient localhost -U "SAMDOM\administrator" -c "enumdrivers"
  • Assign the driver to the printer. For example, to assign the HP Universal Printing PS driver to the DemoPrinter printer, enter:
# rpcclient localhost -U "SAMDOM\administrator" -c 'setdriver "DemoPrinter" "HP Universal Printing PS"'
  • To verify the result:
# rpcclient localhost -U "SAMDOM\administrator" -c "enumprinters"

Preconfiguring a Printer

If the administrator preconfigured the driver on the print server, users connecting to the printer getting automatically the settings applied as default. Preconfigured settings are applied automatically to all driver platforms for the printer, if drivers for multiple architectures are installed on the server. For details, see 32-bit and 64-bit Drivers.

To preconfigure a printer:

  • Navigate to the Print Servers entry, double-click your print server, and select the Printers entry.
  • Right-click to the printer and select Properties.
  • Depending on the driver, a tab, such as Device Settings, is provided that enables you to set general settings, such as installed paper trays.
  • To preconfigure further settings, navigate to the Advanced tab and click Printing Defaults.
  • Update all settings you want to preconfigure. For example, paper sizes and the default paper source.
  • Save the advanced settings and the printer properties by clicking OK.