Admin Alert: Remote OUTQs and Auto-Answer Printer Messages
by Joe Hertvik
In last week's column on auto-answering printer load messages, I mentioned that I hadn't tested my auto-answer technique with remote writer output queues started with the Start Remote Writer (STRRMTWTR) command. Reader Tom Parkinson picked up on this comment and sent me information on answering messages for remote output queues.
"Remote output queues (OUTQs) don't care about forms, so there will never be a CPA3394 error prompting you to load a new form type. I found out the hard way that remote OUTQs will just print any report that is ready, no matter what the form type is, with no error messages."
After reading Tom's reply, I did some research and realized Tom was right. This technique doesn't work for remote writer output queues, because of the nature of the beast. Here's my take on the subject.
Remote writers--as opposed to local AS/400 or iSeries printers, which are defined as OS/400 devices and are started through the Start Printer Writer (STRPRTWTR) command--have a different purpose. The STRRMTWTR command starts a spooling writer that sends OS/400 spool files from an output queue to a remote system, provided that the printers are set up to handle SNADS or TCP/IP traffic. (There are a few other machine types you can redirect spool file output to, but SNADS and TCP/IP printers are the most common choices).
The reason why my auto-answer technique won't work for remote writers is that all the printer messages (change form type, verify alignment, paper out, and the like) are handled by the remote system, not your iSeries or AS/400. Tom hit the nail on the head. A remote output queue does just spool files to the remote system, because it's not made to do anything else. At times it may disconnect, if the printer becomes available or if it is out of paper, but a remote writer is just a redirection technique for moving printouts from one system to another.
While we're on the subject of remote writers, it's important to understand that there's a different technique for setting up and starting a remote writer than for starting a standard OS/400 printer writer. Here's a short version of how to set up and start a remote writer, complete with some IBM references for working with the commands listed here (most of my references are from IBM's OS/400 V5R2 iSeries Information Center, but they work mostly for lower OS/400 versions). In a future column, I'll get more detailed about some of the specifics involved with these commands, but here's a two-step way to get started.
Step 1: Set Up a Remote Output Queue
Set up your remote output queue by using the Create Output Queue (CRTOUTQ) command. CRTOUTQ creates remote output queues to redirect traffic to remote OS/400 machines, through SNADS connections or to any other shared printer output queue that resides on a TCP/IP-connected machine. (In a TCP/IP print server scenario, LPR/LPD must be configured and running on both the OS/400 machine and the TCP/IP print server.) When creating a remote output queue with CRTOUTQ, there are certain parameters that must be configured correctly.
For the other CRTOUTQ parameters, you would configure your remote output queue just as you would for any OS/400 printer queue.
Step 2: Start an Active OS/400 Writer
Start an active OS/400 writer by using the Start Remote Writer (STRRMTWTR) command. This command associates a spool writer with the remote system's output queue by using the parameters you specified in your remote output queue. Unlike CRTOUTQ, there are very few parameters in the STRRMTWTR command. The only required parameter is the remote output queue name that the writer will use to process the spool files (which you created in the previous step). Once activated through STRRMTWTR, OS/400 will attempt to send any spool file placed in your remote output queue to its final destination on the remote system.
A Useful Technique
This is a fairly simple view of the remote output queue scenario. There are some finer details that you'll become aware of as you start using this technique, but most of the basics are here.
With or without printer attention messages, remote output queues are a valuable network management technique that you can use today to get OS/400 spool file information where it belongs.
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