back to article Google Chrome OS to route print jobs around planet

Google has explained how it intends to print from its browser-obsessed Chrome OS netbooks. Naturally, it will send all your jobs across the net, through its servers, and back down to a PC elsewhere in the room. In fact, Google intends to send all your print jobs through its servers whether they're coming from a Chrome OS …


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  1. Nexox Enigma

    Printing over teh internets!?!

    """Google Chrome OS to route print jobs around planet"""

    News? I worked somewhere with no border firewalling on printer ports, user took laptop to another continent, I got a helpdesk email asking why their printer said it was printing, but no paper was coming out of the printer they had plugged in. They had been using the default printer, which was of the networked persuasion, and which had a public IP. So they had a stack of pages sitting in their office when they returned, and they had, in fact, routed a print job around the planet.

    If a user too clueless to check which printer they're using can do it, I'm sure glad Google has figured it out.

    I personally port forward with SSH when I occasionally feel the need to print from afar. Not sure why Google couldn't be bothered to use any of the existing network printer sharing services with their devices...

    1. Number6


      Admittedly I did it from inside a corporate firewall, but I accidentally printed something to my default UK printer when in the US office. However, I didn't need to contact the helpdesk to work out why it didn't print, I just quietly kicked myself and sent another copy to a better-sited printer.

  2. Ogi
    Thumb Down

    Reinventing the wheel

    So google invented the "print server"? I swear this isn't new.

    Also correct me if I'm wrong, but there is already a cross platform printer independent language out there. It's called "Postscript". Just about every laser printer I've used (i.e. in the last 15 or so years) has supported some version of Postscript natively. Only ones that didn't were consumer inkjets, and those could support it when attached to correct software.

  3. M Gale

    This could be fun...

    The same person who I've been helping with their headlamp-tinting site, also had a contract with Sky to vinyl-wrap vans with those lovely HD images. Each (compressed) image is over a gigabyte in size.

    Can you imagine a few thousand, ten thousand, or hundred thousand people hitting "print" all at the same time? Does even Google have that sort of capacity? And do you think, with 256kbit/sec upstream, that this is going to be even passably usable for printing anything except text?

    Oh well, I suppose it's more data for mining. I await the Great Google DDoS with interest.

    1. wetshoes


      PostScript was created to be a device-independent printer language. Worked like a champ for many years. Still works great, except cheap printers don't support it. In fact, PDF files are basically just PostScript. You should be able to send a PDF to any intelligent printer and not have to worry about drivers.

    2. frank ly

      No incrment in mining opportunity?

      "...I suppose it's more data for mining."

      If they're already running the apps with your documents and images being stored and worked on, then print routing does not represent an increase in data for mining. Or have I missed some aspect of this?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Reinventing the wheel

      No, not all printers support postscript. That is the issue Google are trying to find a solution to... Sending jobs to printers is not predictable unless you have specific drivers or you can be sure they support postscript or PCL (home users won't know that). It might be an especially good option if the printer services are bundled up as something you can run locally with ease (cutting out the communication with google). Also the Chrome OS would need an option to point to an alternative print service (or discover them locally).

      Looks like an interesting option. I've used CUPS as a large-scale print server for automated printing so I'll check this out to see how it might complement CUPS for remote printing.

    4. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      It's a Netbook

      Because you regularly edit and print 1GB+ images from your ChromeOS netbook, I suppose.

    5. DuncanL

      Postscript wouldn;t help

      Postscript is proprietary and owned by Adobe. Comparatively few printers implement it - big office lasers mainly (not many desktop lasers have it), and Chrome OS is aimed at home users with 30 quid inkjets. PCL is more commonly supported, but that's owned by HP. Google want to control the system from beginning to end.

      As it stands it does seem like a massive overkill solution; but Postscript isn't going to help make it better.

      1. idasben

        You're missing a bit problem here

        Yes, you're correct current postscript/PCL is generally on high end stuff, and home users who want the cheapest basic netbook with no software on it, are going to have the cheapest basic printer with no options on it. However, without a second PC or one of these currently non-existant 'Google Print Server Router Thingys' then they're screwed anyway, as most cheap printers are unlikely to spend money developing an IP accepting port when they're quite happy being reamed out for £35 a go at the moment and a USB 1.1 port.

        Google have gone miles to figure out how they can be lazy about a problem, instead of doing what everyone else does and makes the print drivers local, they've just decided to create massive amounts of global network traffic and server usage to print a PDF 3 foot away to a printer, let alone the environmental impact of replacing what are perfectly good printers and networking kits with Google friendly versions.

        Also, final moan, but i'm guessing like anything else that goes through google they'll be taking a copy of whatever i print to 'optimise' some service they provide, and to generally keep an idea on what the worlds up to.

      2. David Gosnell


        Actually it was originally designed as a hardware independent language for a 3D shipping simulator, required because the hardware and software needed to be developed in parallel.

        1. Antoine Dubuc

          Actually not.

          It was developed by Xerox in the 70's along with the mouse, the ethernet, the gui, etc.

          The source was very similar and shared by a team at Xerox for two technologies called PostScript and InterPress, and when Xerox decided that InterPress was the future, the guys on the team that thought otherwise decide to show them this by creating Adobe.

      3. Antoine Dubuc

        PDF =! PostScript

        PDF is not PostScript. If you ever read the red book you'd know this. Its just that most people will send the PDF to the printer using a print driver that usually converts the stuff to postscript, hence lazy tech support people will tell users yeah its the same thing. It is not, and thank god.

      4. Anonymous Coward

        Size DOES matter

        Well in my case its not 1gb file but it is frequently a few Mb in size.

        Now sending that over ethernet is not a problem and the print spooler is the slow point. I have just sent four ~5mb files (two PDF two Word docs) to the printer and they are happily churning out their pages after a pause of a few moments.

        However, sending four 5mb files over Wifi to the internet to the printer in the room with me will quickly become a farce. the only way it would come close to workable is if you had a fast hardwired connection, and then what is the point?

    6. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Reinventing.....

      Not quite.

      Google have come up with an entirely new spin on the Print Server idea, by coming up with one that will only talk to printers that support their shiny new proprietary protocol. Which none do.

      A print server that can't print anything? It's novel, I'll grant........

  4. jake Silver badge

    Gawd/ess ... and the sheeple will flock to it, no doubt.

    "We would argue it would be easier to create a common protocol that lets any machine talk to any printer."

    Gee, you think? IPP and CUPS come to mind (although a lot of my legacy gear still uses lpr) ... I can print to any printer on my network, from any machine on my network, on four continents (and I have access to a printer in Antarctica for reasons I won't go into here, making an even handful).

    "But Google likes it when stuff goes through its servers. It likes it a lot."

    Indeed. All things google are an accident in progress. Avoid it, unless you don't care about your corporate, personal and family's privacy.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, I can really see everyone rushing to expose their printers

    to the Internets at large: a simple Google search for content on printers' built-in webservers will make spamming or pranking print queues trivial and, for those still using the default passwords, configuration hacks too, not to mention potential access to the network or other mischief using XSS and so forth. Oh, and should the device in question be a multifunctional one there are scan repositories to be mined for documents and a willing army of potential spamnet clients.

  6. Lincoln

    Yeah, great idea.

    Oh, by the way... the content of all of these print jobs will eventually be Google-able.

  7. wgae

    Google wants to know what you are printing?!

    No way. I have de-googled my life and told my family, friends, and colleagues to do the same. (So I am probably not belonging to the target group for this feature.) There is absolutely no need for MV to know what I am printing, and when. Users should be aware that a print job may be sent unknowingly to more than just their own cloud-aware printer. Not good. As with all things Google, it's a privacy nightmare waiting to happen.

    Mine's the one with the ink-cartridge, please.

  8. Peter D'Hoye
    Dead Vulture

    Simpler explanation

    Maybe it is to get past firewalls easier? Both parties connect to the server (outgoing, so no problem usually), and the data can then be routed over it.

    I'm personally getting fed up by these paranoid google bashers (Cade Metz & co included). They aren't doing this to look at the printing data, they are punting this as a solution to the obvious printing problem in a cloud based system (hint: the source of the print command could in the future come from the cloud (google docs))

    MSN, Jabber, IRC... all go through a server. Google is just another company using the same concept...

  9. Mage Silver badge

    Which is more stupid?

    Google or anyone that uses this.

    Privacy & Security fail.

  10. Lewis Mettler 1

    could be a great solution

    You have to keep in mind that the printing capability being proposed here by Google is primarily for use by mobile devices. Phones, netbooks, etc. And for mobile devices it does make a lot of sense. Add Chrome and you have printing capability. From whereever you are.

    Mobile devices just are not going to be attached to a printer anyway. They are mobile.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Printing over the Internet

    Chrome OS is being touted as being more secure and a simple interface for the user. My concern would be how do you print over the Internet securely? Man-in-the-middle attacks could intercept the traffic in a decrypted state. If the print queue is at Google, then my tax return with SSN and all the other great stuff will be sitting un-encrypted on their server. Do we trust Google enough for this?

    I just don't see anyone saying the obvious. This is great for printing the most innocuous information but it needs to be clear that a lot of faith is being put in Google's people and its practices.

  12. davenewman

    CUPS has done it

    Why do they need to reinvent CUPS?

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Can't IPP already do this without feeding Google your documents?

  14. Ejl

    Got to love the GOOG lumps together every printer ever built under the name "legacy". There are no google cloud-infected printers yet. They are all "legacy".

  15. Eddy Ito Silver badge
    Big Brother

    A fast facts fax machine, then?

    I swear the Googly Boys read "1984" and thought it was business plan.

  16. mafoo
    Thumb Down

    The next spam battleground... going to be sending spam out someone's "cloud aware" printer.

  17. Paul RND*1000

    In other news... was today revealed that the supplier which provides mushrooms to the Google staff canteen accidentally sent 100lbs of "special" mushrooms in their last order.

    A spokesman for Google said "whoa, dude".

  18. Anonymous Coward

    get ready for ..

    print spam: the document gets uploaded to google servers and returned with a google ad in the header or footer.

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Down

      you don't think they'd make print queues searchable...?

      I, myself, am waiting for the first reports of "cloud"-based, Googleized print jobs emerging from a printer followed by two or three more pages of advertising related to whatever the topic of the print job happens to be.

      In 5...4...3...2...1...

    2. M Gale

      Bluetooth printers..

      ...they exist.

  19. Havin_it

    Potentially great

    I like the idea, provided you can set up your own "cloud" and not have to use Google's servers. One of the biggest headaches I face with my home network setup is CUPS and/or the HP printer drivers breaking on just about every goddamn update. Having to fanny about reading bugreports and recompiling things is a royal pain in the arse when there's something I need to print (which is thankfully rare) - when my other half needs to print, it's a life-threatening peril!

    If Google manage to browbeat the manufacturers into making all new printers (or even just a decent cross-section reaching down to the commodity level) accept jobs via an open, universal protocol over IP without any driver-hell to worry about, the benefits will be felt far beyond mobile-land.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Google

    Do not want.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    yup, definitely fax spam all over again

    just can't wait for that first Great Vacation Offer from a Print Cloud. Google is so massively inefficient and bloating their networks...not a great direction for sustainability.

  22. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    yep..cups + postscript

    there is cups' ipp protocol, or lpr, to print. Postscript is good, and not proprietary as several claim -- adobe released this as open specs like 20 years ago and ghostscript handles it and pdf for free. I can NOW have a box with no printer drivers, apps generate postscript and send it to yhe computer with the printer. No sweat.

    way to reinvent the wheel, google.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    All your printers are belong to us

    There, someone had to say it.

    This is such a gaping security/confidentiality hole as to be mind boggling.

  24. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Anything left?

    Get your calendar straight - April 1st has already passed..

    Let me see, email scanning, facial recognition on your pictures, Google voice/video will probably help teh NSA overcome that pesky Skype problem, Google Apps give them nice copeis of your IP and whatever else you're doing, and now looking at your print jobs as well. WTF?

    First off, why would I want to print anything using a global spooler? From an eco and money perspective the less I print the better, and if I want to print on a printer somewhere else I'll send the data per email as it will require someone local.

    However, I have a feeling I know what the real aim is: the printing equivalent of fax spam. The moment you open the door to Google it means anyone (paying enough money to Google) can drop targeted printouts on your printer, or everything you print will have a marketing banner.

    Well, what ever way they want to do this, the answer is no. I already have Google Sharing and Scroogle installed, and Google apps are not in use - and it will stay that way.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I you think that Google won't be scanning your documents then...

    I would love to know what it's like, up there on Mars, sitting in that cave with your fingers in your ears and your eyes shut.

  26. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Printing - How 19th Century!

    I've found that if you use computer shaped documents - HTML works pretty well - and construct your documents in screen sized chunks rather than paper sized chunks then there is no need to print them - and they are so much more manageable that way too! A lot less virus ridden than Pointless Document Format too!

    The only thing I've printed lately was some check-in documents for a holiday in Portugal. They didnt work either!

  27. Alastair 7

    "Google is so massively inefficient" a statement like that could be upvoted amazes me. Presumably no-one has any idea how Google operates.

    Anyway, this scheme sounds a bit odd but I can see the benefits. I noticed that it also has phones connecting to the cloud- I imagine a scenario whereby I can see a map-based layout of public printers around me (internet cafes and the like), and the ability to immediately send a document over there, then go pick it up. Could be a lifesaver.

  28. Mountford D
    Gates Horns


    Why is it that every major corporation feel it has the need to take over the world? Google could do lot better by making its current product portfolio better rather than putting its resources into the reinvention of the wheel as a lot of posters have commented.

    Let's face it, when you try and find a solution for a problem that doesn't exist, you are definitely on the downward slide. This is nothing but a demonstration of technical ability, fraught with security, usability and stability issues and will cost Google a lot.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No thanks to the datamine, Google.

    Unless Google can't be bothered to search everything they have on us any more and just want everyone to carefully pre-select the relevant and timely stuff for them, that is, everything worth spending printing ink on, (like drafts of commercial contracts, letters to your bank manager etc..) and datamine that instead.

    I can see a quick revision to corporate "working from home" policy coming.

    Maybe they're taking it all a bit literally "Soon, it will be MINE.... ALL MINE !...! "

  30. M man

    print to another pc..

    unles THAT pc has chrome os on it.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge
      Dead Vulture

      print to a *real* pc

      My thoughts, too, if I read your thoughts correctly.

      In the absence of Google-aware printers, they are suggesting that everyone attaches their printer to a machine running Windows, Linux or MacOS and talks to it via the widest (and therefore possibly the slowest) area network connection available to them. (Let's hope you aren't paying per byte on that data link.) Then, Google will write software for *those* platforms that lets you print. Chrome will therefore be the *only* OS for which Google doesn't write printer software.

      El Reg: you've really gotta check your source on this one. Someone's pulled your leg so hard it's ripped clean off.

      1. No. Really!?


        Yeah. With mobile data caps or If the tele-cables get their way with monthly caps for wired service, who'll want want to used monthly allotment for _local_ printing.

        Double Fail: Choc-o-Print and Monthly Caps

        1. M Gale



  31. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  32. paul 97

    miss the point

    Yes its sending data through googles cloud - but its open source so anyone could easily take the source and implement their own cloud - thereby not giving the data to google.

    Most of googles services are this way (most , not all). Its only a matter of time before a more expensive version of google that has better privacy polices is on the way.

    Google aim to be in front through being cheaper (free) and because they were first.

    But they are very easy to bash , even though none of you care that much about your privacy just enough to rant and rave but not actually do anything. Ohh I've degoogled (but still use facebook) for example.

  33. Mark Greenwood


    Anybody remember the days when Spammers used to use Fax machines? Now they can use your printer and spam you in Full Colour! I do not welcome our new 1200dpi Overlords.

  34. Anonymous Coward


    I struggle to see a real purpose to this.

    If I am writing a document on my netbook/laptop/computer it seems there are easier ways then sending it across the globe to spit out on a printer next to me. If I am in a cyber cafe or anywhere similar they would be insane to allow remote printing from Joe Blogs and most likely would demand I connected to their network.

    If I am in some weird situation where I am on my phone and need to print somthing out - well then I need to stop and think about what the fuck am I playing at. Its a phone ffs.

    The only other option is that I want to print a document out somehere distant to where I am: why not email it to the person unless its an attempt to faxSpam over eMail.

    It seems to me that when ever you mention the cloud, people go all gooey and assume it MUST BE GOOD rather actually working out if there is any real value to it.

  35. BryanM

    Thanks Google...

    for the memories. Now go away!! Printing is THE biggest pain in the arse in IT. Adding a layer of complexity is not the way to resolve this.

  36. amlendu kumar

    Reinventing ..

    Well Postscript is Adobe owned/licenced. The free version is Ghostscript. Google must be using some version of Ghostscript.

  37. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    that doesn't sound inefficient.

    So is Google going to also require all Chrome OS http requests to go to Google first, then Google will send back a special request to the PC where a "proxy" on that PC will send the Google-tweaked request on to the website? Then the website sends the requested document/file back to the proxy, which sends it on to Google which FINALLY sends it to the browser in Chrome? Yes, that sounds super efficient.

    And why stop at printers and web requests? Why not route all keystrokes and mouse movements/clicks through a special proxy to Google, then Google can decide whether to send the inputs to the client on the PC. Video output too. And CDROM/DVD reads. And sound output. Joysticks too. Maybe Google can finally abstract things out to the point that even network packets get sent to Google first before they are then sent to Google...

  38. Anonymous Coward

    OH FFS! Now which one do I choose?

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL

    HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL


    Maybe I'll just keep trying them until I find one near me.

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