Exploring the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit: Clusfileport.dll

As we continue our series on the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit, Windows expert Tim Fenner breaks down Cluster Print File Port, a useful tool for those working with server clusters.

Our last segment on the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit focused on two tools –  Cmdhere.inf and CMGetCer.inf.

In this article, we'll begin to focus on cluster support through the Cluster Print File Port tool, or Clusfileport.dll.

Just like Clusterrecovery.exe, this tool can make your server clustering world a little easier. Most client/server printing is configured in a way that a server hosts multiple print queues (i.e., multiple printers) and the clients connect to that print server in order to print. This printing model does not typically account for disaster scenarios, such as your print server crashing. Basically, if you want to make your print server always available, then you need to look into server clustering.

But what if you use the printer's ability to print a job to a file and not to a physical printer?

With a standard Windows 2003 server, you have the ability to configure your server to print a job directly to a print device, redirect the job to a file or redirect it to another print device. The redirection features are not available in clustered print servers by default. The Cluster Print File Port tool lets you configure a printer to use the FILE: port as well as the other redirected port options, besides just printing directly to the print device.

Note: For more information on this, check out a Microsoft white paper on creating and configuring a highly available print server using a server cluster.

Requirements:

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise or Datacenter Edition installed on all computers in the cluster. Cluster service configured on a multi-node cluster.

Installation:

The following steps must be done locally on each server (node) in the cluster:

  1. Copy the ClusFilePort.inf and the ClusFilePort.dll into the C:\Windows directory (not necessary to copy/move the files, but I find it's always best to move configuration files like these out of the Resource Kit directory in case it is removed).

  2. From the Start menu, click Printers and Faxes.

  3. From the File menu, click Server Properties.

  4. Click the Ports tab.

  5. Click Add Port.

  6. Click New Port Type.

  7. Enter or browse for the location of the Clusfileport.inf file. The Clusfileport.inf file must be present in the same folder as Clusfileport.dll. Select Clusfileport.inf, and then click Open. In the Installing Port Monitor dialog box, click OK.

  8. If a dialog box appears, click Continue Anyway to complete the installation.

  9. If the installation is a success, Cluster File Ports is added to the Printer Ports dialog box.

  10. In the Printer Ports dialog box, click Cancel. Click OK to close the Print Server Properties dialog box.

  11. The cluster spooler resources must be taken offline and brought back online to make Cluster File Ports available to all cluster servers. You can do this by using Cluster Administrator or the Cluster.exe command-line tool.

ClusFilePort is now installed but no port has been configured. To configure a port, do the following:

  1. Open the virtual cluster server by typing \\VirtualServerName in the Run dialog box, where VirtualServerName is the name of the cluster virtual server.

  2. From the Start menu, click Printers and Faxes. In Windows 2000, click Start, point to Settings, and then click Printers.

  3. From the File menu, click Server Properties.

  4. Click the Ports tab.

  5. Click Add Port.

  6. Select Cluster File Ports as an available port type, and then click New Port.

  7. Type the full path of either a printer or a place on a network or local drive where print files are stored.

General use:

As far as general use goes, it comes down to whether or not you need to redirect your jobs when printing to a clustered print server. If you only need to print to a physical print device, then the answer is probably no. But if you need other options, such as printing to a file directory, just install the Cluster Print File Port tool, configure your print queue to use the redirection, and you'll be good to go.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Fenner (MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, Network+ and A+) is a senior systems administrator who oversees a Microsoft Windows, Exchange and Office environment. He is also an independent consultant who specializes in the design, implementation and management of Windows networks.

This was first published in January 2008

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