Ghostscript - 2021 Release

4 January 2021

Print Distributor 2021 is here and includes the following new features:

  • A new Ghostscript reprint action lets you reprint to different types of printer. This will also allow you to print and create a PDF file.
  • The Write File action now has a retry property. This is useful when writing to a network path.
  • A new rule allows you to test against PowerShell expressions.
  • Templates now support embedded PowerShell scripts.

There are also many general enhancements including:

  • GhostScript ps2pdf now creates a temporary PDF file first then moves it into place. This is more reliable and gives better feedback if an error occurs.
  • The “Force Quit” button is enabled when stopping the Print Distributor service.
  • We Added a property to the Load Balancing action to only print to empty printers. This stops all the jobs queueing on the active printer when one printer goes down.
  • Enabling the foreground service to start automatically is now set from a Service menu item.
  • Installing and uninstalling the Windows service changes the foreground service auto start property.
  • The progress form is now DPI independent.
  • Creating printers now uses a two stage initialisation for a smoother user interface.
  • There are various Improvements to logging.
  • Various bug fixes.

Print Distributor is now dependent on the .Net Framework version 4.8.

As always this is a free update for users with version 5.0 and later.

Pricing Update

8 September 2020

As of today we have introduced Site and Enterprise licenses for Print Distributor.

The Site license allows you to run multiple instances of Print Distributor Workstation or Server at a single location and within a single organisation. The location is defined as being within one postal address.

The Enterprise license extends this to a single organisation within one country.

Windows Update - Error Printing

19 August 2020

Note

Microsoft resolved this issue in the Febuary 2021 patch. If you encounter it then updating Windows should clear it for you.

Issue

Microsoft’s latest updates to Windows have been causing some of our customers issues with printing to Print Distributor. These are the general updates that were released on 10th August 2020.

Symptoms

Any print jobs are stuck in the virtual printer with an error state. On versions 5.4 to 6.1 there are no entries in the Print Distributor log. For versions 2017 to 2020 there will be an error message “Ignored empty document on port ###” in the log.

Windows versions affected

Windows 7 through to 10 are all affected as well as Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.

Print Distributor versions 5.4, 6.0 and 6.1 as well as 2017 to 2020 are all affected.

Cause

Print Distributor used a mechanism called Named Pipes to pass print files from a printer port into the Print Distributor service. Named Pipes are a widely used feature of Windows although not commonly used for printer ports. A security vulnerabilty (CVE 2020-1337) was identified in the Windows print spooler and the fix for that appears to have disabled the use of named pipes from printer ports.

Although we moved away from using named pipes from version 2017 they were still supported for systems that were upgraded from previous versions.

Solution

The first stage is to take a backup as some of the following operations can be destructive. You can backup the current Print Distributor configuration using the Tools->Backup menu in Print Distributor. If you get an error about mismatched ports then you can copy the config.xml file which you can find using the Tools->Open Config Folder menu.

For versions 5.4 to 6.1 you will need to upgrade to a newer release. The upgrade is free of charge however you will need to re-enter your license key.

Version 5.4

Version 5.4 can’t be directly upgraded to the current release. Instead you should start by upgrading to 6.1. You can then continue with the instructions for that version.

Versions 6.0 and 6.1

If you are running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 then you will need to upgrade to Print Distributor version 2019.12.3. Otherwise you can upgrade to the current release.

Note at this stage you will still have virtual printers using named pipes so the errors will continue. Now follow the instructions for versions 2017 and later.

Versions 2017 to 2020

You will now need to switch each of the virtual printers from the legacy type to the new standard type. To do this delete each virtual printer and create a new one using the Standard printer type. You will then need to add all the actions back in.

Update: Version 2020.08.21

We have just released an update that helps with the conversion of legacy virtual printers to standard. You can now right click on a legacy virtual printer and select the “Convert to standard” menu to convert. The legacy printers are now have a red icon to make them easier to identify.