Printing multiple PDF files from console with lp

Printing multiple PDF files from console with lp

Recently I wanted to print some PDF files containing sheet music. The tedious way to do that, would be to open them one by one in Evince and press the print button. Surely there must be a more efficient way to do that?

$ ls -l --human-readable *.pdf
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee 217K apr 15  2020 'Arthur original.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee 197K apr 13  2020 'Canal en octobre.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee  14K apr 13  2020  DenAndro.pdf
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee  42K apr 14  2020 'Doedel you do.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee  57K apr 13  2020  Flatworld.pdf
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee  35K apr 16  2020 'Jump at the sun.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee 444K jun 19  2016 'Kadril Van Mechelen.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee  15K apr 13  2020  La-gavre.pdf
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee  47K apr 13  2020 'Le petit déjeuner.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee 109K apr 13  2020  LesChaminoux__2016_04_24.cached.pdf
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee 368K apr 13  2020 'Mazurka It.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee 591K apr 13  2020 'Narrendans uit Mater.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee 454K apr 13  2020 'Neverending jig.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee 1,1M apr 14  2020 'Red scissors.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee  35K apr 13  2020  Scottish-à-VirmouxSOL.pdf
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee  76K apr 14  2020 'Tarantella Napolitana meest gespeelde versie.pdf'
-r--r--r-- 1 amedee amedee 198K apr 15  2020 'Zot kieken!.pdf'

There are 2 console commands for printing: lp and lpr. One comes from grandpa System V, the other from grandpa BSD, and both are included in CUPS. The nice thing about these commands is that they know how to interpret PostScript and PDF files. So this is going to be easy: just cd into the directory with the PDF files and print them all:

$ lp *.pdf
lp: Error - No default destination.

Oops. A quick Google search of this error message tells me that I don’t have a default printer.

Configuring a default printer

First I use lpstat to find all current printers:

$ lpstat -p -d
printer HP_OfficeJet_Pro_9010_NETWORK is idle.  enabled since za 12 mrt 2022 00:00:28
printer HP_OfficeJet_Pro_9010_USB is idle.  enabled since za 12 mrt 2022 00:00:17
no system default destination

I have a HP OfficeJet Pro 9012e printer, which Ubuntu recognizes as a 9010 series. Close enough. It’s connected over network and USB. I’m setting the network connection as default with lpoptions:

$ lpoptions -d $(lpstat -p -d | head --lines=1 | cut --delimiter=' ' --fields=2)
copies=1 device-uri=hp:/net/HP_OfficeJet_Pro_9010_series?ip= finishings=3 job-cancel-after=10800 job-hold-until=no-hold job-priority=50 job-sheets=none,none marker-change-time=0 media=iso_a4_210x297mm number-up=1 output-bin=face-down print-color-mode=color printer-commands=none printer-info printer-is-accepting-jobs=true printer-is-shared=true printer-is-temporary=false printer-location printer-make-and-model='HP Officejet Pro 9010 Series, hpcups 3.22.2' printer-state=3 printer-state-change-time=1649175159 printer-state-reasons=none printer-type=4124 printer-uri-supported=ipp://localhost/printers/HP_OfficeJet_Pro_9010_NETWORK sides=one-sided

I can then use lpq to verify that the default printer is ready:

$ lpq
HP_OfficeJet_Pro_9010_NETWORK is ready
no entries

Printing multiple files from console

I found that if I naively do lp *.pdf, then only the last file will be printed. That’s unexpected, and I can’t be bothered to find out why. So I just use ls and feed that to a while-loop. It’s quick and dirty, and using find+xargs would probably be better if there are “special” characters, but that’s not the case here.

There’s one caveat: when the PDF files are printed one by one, then the first page will be at the bottom of the paper stack, so I need to print them in reverse order.

$ ls --reverse *.pdf | while read f; do lp "$f"; done

With that command I got 17 print jobs in the printer queue, one for each file.

Now that I know how to print from console, I’ll probably do that more often. The man page of lp describes many useful printing options, like printing double sided:

$ lp -o media=a4 -o sides=two-sided-long-edge filename

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