[Sugar-devel] Print Support proposal (need input) Beta

Carol Farlow Lerche cafl at msbit.com
Thu Mar 19 13:07:23 EDT 2009

A problem with the desktop-oriented printer support in Unix and in Windows
is that it has the underlying assumption that the person at the desktop
should be in unfettered control of the ability to print (with lip service
paid to an overall page quota).  Where this breaks down for children is that

. kids love tangible output, so unless someone does something about it, they
will print everything.

. in a school the printer may be somewhere else than in the classroom, and
kids aren't allowed to roam the building picking up their output.  So even
more than printer users in an office environment, they have no clue as to
why things don't show up as "printed", or why the print queue is long.
(Could be a printer jam.  Could be a graphics-intensive prior job, or their
own job being graphics-intensive, could be an unwitting print of a 30 page
job on a slow printer, etc., etc.) Just as in the "hit the launch button
again" phenomenon when activity launching is slow on the XO, this leads to
printing the same document again and again.

I'd like to show you the scars from the arrows in my back after spending a
day a week in elementary school classrooms over a period of several years,
but it would scare the children.

So here is a scenario that I think would be better, especially in an
environment such as a third world school with few printers and scarcity of

Vamsi's default pdf printer is great...no consumables, no remote print
server, nice way to preserve the visual effect of a piece of work for

But for printing real output, I think a more draconian control system is
needed.  One possibility:  submit pdf files to a Moodle-mediated "turn it
in" queue.  This ensures that an artifact has been produced that the child
can review and is motivated to review before giving it to the teacher to
decide if it warrants printing.  The teacher can then browse the turned in
work, printing those examples s/he thinks warrant the expense.

Should it be possible to configure a normal CUPS printer queue where kids
could "just print it"?  Yes, there are probably circumstances where this is
appropriate.  But even where kids make the decision about what to print, I
think having some kind of per-document filter, such as "has this document
already been printed in the last n hours?", "is this document longer than x
pages?", "has this child submitted more than y pages in the last time
period" is crucial.  And so it would be good to build that into the journal
print interface.  I don't think the ordinary unix print quota mechanism does
this, but I admit I haven't looked at it in detail recently.
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