Langue: en

Version: 300925 (debian - 07/07/09)

Section: 5 (Format de fichier)

BSD mandoc


printcap - printer capability database




The printcap file is a simplified version of the termcap(5) database used to describe line printers. The spooling system accesses the printcap file every time it is used, allowing dynamic addition and deletion of printers. Each entry in the database is used to describe one printer. This database may not be substituted for, as is possible for termcap(5), because it may allow accounting to be bypassed.

The default printer is normally ``lp'' though the environment variable PRINTER may be used to override this. Each spooling utility supports an option, -P printer to allow explicit naming of a destination printer.

Refer to the "4.3 BSD Line Printer Spooler Manual" for a complete discussion on how to set up the database for a given printer.


Refer to termcap(5) for a description of the file layout.

Name   Type    Default Description

"af        str" Ta NULL Ta name of accounting file
"brnumnoneif lp is a tty, set baud rate"
( ioctl(2) call)
"cf     str" Ta NULL Ta cifplot data filter
"df    str" Ta NULL Ta tex data filter
( DVI format)
"fc     num     0       if lp is a tty, clear flag bits"
(Aq sgtty.h )
"ff      str" Ta So \f Sc Ta string to send for a form feed
"foboolfalseprint a form feed when device is opened"
"fsnum0if lp is a tty, set flag bits"
(Aq sgtty.h )
"gfstr" Ta NULL Ta graph data filter
( plot(3) format)
"hl     bool    false   print the burst header page last"
"ic  bool    false   supports non-standard ioctl to indent printout"
"ifstr" Ta NULL Ta name of text filter which does accounting
"lfstr" Ta /dev/console Ta error logging file name
"lostr" Ta lock Ta name of lock file
"lpstr" Ta /dev/lp Ta local printer device, or port@host for remote
"msstr" Ta NULL Ta list of terminal modes to set or clear
"mxnum1000max file size (in"
BUFSIZ blocks); 0=unlimited
"nd     str" Ta NULL Ta next directory for queues list (unimplemented)
"nf str" Ta NULL Ta ditroff data filter (device independent troff)
"ofstr" Ta NULL Ta name of output filtering program
"pcnum200price per foot or page in hundredths of cents"
"plnum66page length (in lines)"
"pwnum132page width (in characters)"
"pxnum0page width in pixels (horizontal)"
"pynum0page length in pixels (vertical)"
"rfstr" Ta NULL Ta filter for printing
FORTRAN style text files
"rg     str" Ta NULL Ta restricted group-only group members can access
"rm str" Ta NULL Ta machine name for remote printer
"rpstr``lp''remote printer name argument"
"rsboolfalseremote users must have a local account"
"rwboolfalseopen printer device for reading and writing"
"sbboolfalseshort banner (one line only)"
"scboolfalsesuppress multiple copies"
"sdstr" Ta /var/spool/lpd Ta spool directory
"sfboolfalsesuppress form feeds"
"shboolfalsesuppress printing of burst page header"
"ststr" Ta status Ta status file name
"tfstr" Ta NULL Ta troff data filter (cat phototypesetter)
"trstr" Ta NULL Ta trailer string to print when queue empties
"vfstr" Ta NULL Ta raster image filter
"xcnum0if lp is a tty, clear local mode bits"
(tty(4) )
"xsnum0if lp is a tty, set local mode bits"
(tty(4) )

If the local line printer driver supports indentation, the daemon
must understand how to invoke it.


If a printer is specified via lp (either local or remote), the lpd(8) daemon creates a pipeline of ``filters'' to process files for various printer types. The pipeline is not set up for remote printers specified via rm unless the local host is the same as the remote printer host given. The filters selected depend on the flags passed to lpr(1). The pipeline set up is:
 p       pr | if regular text + pr(1)
 none    if      regular text
 c       cf      cifplot
 d       df      DVI (tex)
 g       gf      plot(3)
 n       nf      ditroff
 f       rf      Fortran
 t       tf      troff
 v       vf      raster image

The if filter is invoked with arguments:

if [-c ] -w width -l length -i indent -n login -h host acct-file

The -c flag is passed only if the -l flag (pass control characters literally) is specified to lpr(1). width and length specify the page width and length (from pw and pl respectively) in characters. The -n and -h parameters specify the login name and host name of the owner of the job, respectively. The acct-file function is passed from the af printcap entry.

If no if is specified, of is used instead, with the distinction that of is opened only once, while if is opened for every individual job. Thus, if is better suited to performing accounting. The of is only given the width and length flags.

All other filters are called as:

filter -x width -y length -n login -h host acct-file

where width and length are represented in pixels, specified by the px and py entries, respectively. All filters take stdin as the file, stdout as the printer, may log either to stderr or using syslog(3), and must not ignore SIGINT


Error messages generated by the line printer programs themselves are logged by syslog(3) using the LPR facility. Messages printed on stderr of one of the filters are sent to the corresponding lf file. The filters may, of course, use syslog(3) themselves.

Error messages sent to the console have a carriage return and a line feed appended to them, rather than just a line feed.


lpq(1), lpr(1), lprm(1), termcap(5), lpc(8), lpd(8), pac(8)
"4.3 BSD Line Printer Spooler Manual"


The printcap file format appeared in BSD 4.2