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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Posted on by Matt

Scale up, but don’t skimp


I recently helped out one of our biggest corporate customers to resolve issues with their print server. During the the last week of the financial year (when printing load is the highest) their print server became overloaded and stopped working. This sounds bad, but we quickly got things working smoothly again and learned that …

PaperCut scales incredibly well if you allocate appropriate system resources!

This customer had been running PaperCut for about 6 months without issue. Over this period they were gradually transitioning 100s of print queues from legacy print servers to the server hosting PaperCut. This single print server was hosting all queues for their offices country-wide. The extra load of these additional print queues combined with the end-of-year printing load pushed the server to the limit.

When analyzing the problem I noticed that this server was handling a huge print load. In the 30 day period prior the following printing occurred:

  • 477,287 print jobs
  • 2,021,454 pages printed
  • Between 22,000 to 25,000 print jobs each week day

Wow! That’s a lot of printing!

They were also using hold/release queues and Find-Me printing (aka follow-me printing) to provide secure print release and to reduce paper wastage. The result was an average of around 500-600 print jobs waiting in the queue to be released.

The cause of the problem was under resourcing. Their setup was:

  • A single server hosting the both the print queues and the PaperCut application server
  • The server was a virtual machine assigned only a single processor
  • Allocated 3GB of RAM
  • Running on a 32-bit Windows Server operating system

My recommendation was to leave the print queues on the existing server, but move the PaperCut Application Server service to a server with 4GB of RAM, 2 or more processors, and running a 64-bit operating system with the 64-bit add-on pack. This configuration:

  • Spreads the load between 2 servers
  • Allows the PaperCut Application Server to take advantage of more memory (64-bit)
  • More available processors allowed efficient processing of simultaneous print jobs

Since making these changes, their system has been running very smoothly. Their servers are now handling more load than ever, and without overloading the servers.

If you’re managing a large PaperCut installation, and in particular leveraging some of PaperCut’s advanced print management features such as secure print release, then there’s a few lessons to take from this:

  • Don’t skimp on RAM or CPU resources
  • Monitor your servers. Particularly if you’re adding print queues and increasing print load
  • Consider running a 64-bit OS to allow for future expansion (e.g. more memory)
  • Run PaperCut on an external database like SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL or MySQL

CC image courtesy of Emilian Robert Vicol on flickr

Posted in General | Tagged | 3 Comments

Posted on by Chris

What does print management have to do with Coffee?

Priyanka transitions from Java code to Java drink!

Priyanka transitions from Java code to Java drink!

The regular readers of our blog will have noticed a few off-topic posts slipping in from time to time. The common theme is coffee and beer. As a group of passionate computer programmers and tech geeks it’s no surprise that we have developed a strong corporate coffee culture. Coffee is our secret weapon! Over the past 10 years we’ve changed programming languages, compilers, and development practices, but one factor has remained constant: Coffee. It must be the pillar for PaperCut’s success.

Coffee is very much part of our culture. The company funds a continuous flow of lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos (Hendrik’s favorite) all arriving from the coffee shop directly opposite the office. Most of us have espresso machines at home (e.g. Rancilio Silva) and discussions on brewing techniques seem to pop up in developer meeting agendas unannounced.

Recently management decided that attending a formal coffee barista course would be a good idea. Traditional businesses would have called this a “cooperate team building exercise”, however for us it’s “core competency training” 🙂 The whole Melbourne development team (minus Tom) spent a day at a coffee training academy learning the finer points of coffee production.

Lessons included:

  • The art of wasting lots of milk perfecting the perfect froth.
  • The amount of coffee one must waste to calibrate the ideal 25 second espresso pour.
  • Latte art: The art of convincing someone that the shape on the top of their coffee was deliberate.
  • How to make beverages unknown to computer programmers (chai lattes, and hot chocolates)

The day finished off with a competition. We paired up into teams and had to make 8 coffee variants in 8 minutes. Congratulations to Matt and Jason who took out the title.

To take a slight deviation, my favorite pieces of coffee trivia:

Overall it was a very fun day. We even got to walk away with a formal certificate – we’re now qualified Baristas! If we all get sick of writing print management software we now at least have a fall back option – open a Cafe!

Thanks to Jason for the great images!

Posted in General | Tagged | 18 Comments

Posted on by priyanka

Highest vote takes it all

Pink Mouse I am one of the female developers here at PaperCut… well at the current time the only female developer! For the past few months most of my development has been driven by your votes in the feature survey. We are constantly analyzing the votes and using it to prioritize our development. I have already implemented various highly voted features such as:

  • the ability to edit scheduled reports.
  • the ability save scheduled reports to disk.
  • the option to create and manage printer groups (using a tagging paradigm).

The next feature I have my sights on will be “Adhoc bulk user updates” which is one of the highly requested feature at the time of writing. An MSI packaged client (and secondary/local print server installer) is another one on the horizon, but I suspect one of the “boys” might beat me to that one…

I will post updates on my progress as I move along. Voting will re-open soon. In the meantime here’s how voting stands for some of the top requests:
Results of voting

CC image courtesy of osde8info on flickr

Posted in General | Tagged | 7 Comments

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