October 16, 2010

Apple LaserWriter 12/640 setup with OS X

Owning an old networked Apple LaserWriter LS 12/640 is cool, especially as found I can use the waste toner I clean from another printer to fuel this one.  While the result is not amazing print quality, it works well for the occasional print job at home.  The big problem is that setting up the printer is no longer supported in OS X, yet there is some unix and window hackery that will do the trick, the problem was getting them all to work from my Macbook Pro and not having to drag a PC into the mix.

First off you need to setup an IP for the printer, which by default has an IP of and a subnet of  Normally back in the OS 8/9 days you would use the printer utility over appletalk.  Sadly(?) apple talk has been removed as of 10.6.  So time to delve into some unix to fix the issue.

Chapter 4 in the manual for the 12/640 covers setting of the printer for unix. Basically this breaks down into adding an entry to the host file (/etc/hosts) for the printer name and ip address of your choice for the printer.  Then get the mac address for the printer, which is listed on the configuration page it will print out each time it is turned on when in config mode, e.g. little switch on back out, not in.  Then use the following arp command in the terminal "arp    -s    printer_IP_name     printer_Ethernet_address" followed by "ping printer_IP_name".  This will create a link to the printer despite an IP address not being configured.  Use this temporary link to telnet into the printer using the IP address you chose and finish up setting final network settings using the text menu system.

Next you will need to finish setting the other printer configuration items.  However they are missing from the telnet menu.  To gain access to these additional setting, such as turning off config page printing on powerup, you need to grab a copy of the Windows Laserwriter Utility.  This can be run on a pc, through a virtual machine or by using Crossover Mac to simply run it in OS X.  I used Crossover, installed the utility and it connected automatically the first time I ran it.  You can tell the setting have been changed as the printer will be sent a job for each command and then print a wasteful page that confirms each change.  After that the printer will be all set up and ready to be added to your printer list.  The 12/640 driver is pre installed in 10.6, but must be chosen manually.

Once again I am recycling old tech for current use.  Plus it is a pice of Apple history, is your made by Apple, for most that would be a no.