Effective Problem Solving – Keep it Clear and Simple

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Navigating The Error Message Maze (Windows Word Document to Samba CUPS Printer)

Okay here goes, I can finally print my document after two hours of typing and tweaking.    I just have time to make my meeting if all goes well.  Print …   Good my screen shows the printer and the pages are counting off.   Now to pickup the copies.   What!   Nothing in the tray.   Hmm … maybe its stuck.   Let’s check the tray feed.   No jams, all looks fine there.   What about the spooler.   Let’s see:  lpq says No Entries.    Maybe the printer was not ready yet, when I printed, I’ll try it again.  Print …  That’s probably going to get it.   Let’s see the tray again.   Great still nothing.

Okay let’s check the log files to see what’s up:  tail -20 /var/log/cups/error_log says: 

 E [21/May/2011:15:33:55 -0700] Unknown configuration directive MakeModel on line 6 of printers.conf.
E [21/May/2011:15:33:55 -0700] Unknown configuration directive Type on line 10 of printers.conf
E [25/May/2011:04:08:25 -0700] Bad IPP operation name “CUPS-Get-Document” on line 31!
E [25/May/2011:06:04:31 -0700] CUPS-Accept-Jobs: Unauthorized

Oh, Oh this looks like its going to be a project.   Better reschedule my meeting.   Let’s Google some of the messages.   “Bad IPP operation name“, “CUPS=Accept-Jobs: Unauthorized“.  Looks like lots of feedback.  Hmm… most of these ideas are leading me deeper and deeper into more and more esoteric areas and articles.  Pretty soon I’ll be trying to learn how to rewrite the driver.   This can’t be it.

I know, I’ll reinstall the CUPS software and recreate the Linux and the Windows printer link again.   Print …  Still nothing in the tray.  Nope that’s not it.   What about  trying the CUPS web-client interface?   http://localhost:631.   Great interface.    Lots of tabs and tools.   Click, View, Click, View ….   This is a quagmire also.   What next. 

I better try to get some help with this.  Let’s call CCS Retail.  What would you guys suggest?  “Well one simple thing you could check, even though the messages are leading you somewhere else, is device permissions.  Did you just do some Gentoo Linux emerges for updates recently? ”    Let’s see /dev/lp0 has permissions 660.   That does NOT look right.   I’ll change it to 666 to open it all the way up.   Print …  Wow there it is – at last.

What;s the point to our little story?   The software layers in your systems all have error processing steps and messages that are relative to their view of the information they see and create.   To a CUPS driver it may seem like “Bad IPP operation name”.   This may lead into unnecessary levels of detail and loss of productive time.

How do we avoid this and get to the real problem of the incorrect device permissions quicker?   The best way we know at CCS Retail is to ask someone with the knowledge or experience with these types of problems to act as a consultant or guide for advice or hands-on resolution.   Try to discipline yourself to not get caught up it the frustration of the moment and start burrowing into the center of everything.   

Google and other search engines are great resources.  But if you are just pea-shooting at the problem with an esoteric error message you are likely to just burrow in deeper.   Would CCS Retail know from the error messages in the log file that it was device permissions.   Since they solve these types of problems frequently, the odds are favorable.   Would they know when to stop using a thread and wasting time at the right point.   Again the odds are favorable.

In our CCS Retail Support Department we spend our day solving problems and accumulating the knowledge that keeps our customers running.    Give us a call when you are stuck.   Make sure to keep track of any errors you get to help us get you going again quickly.


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