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Another Filepro Conversion

© November 2008 Anthony Lawrence

I got called in for a SCO to Linux Filepro conversion this week. This was supposed to be planned, but the SCO box gave up the ghost unexpectedly, so I found myself getting up at 4:00 AM on Thursday to do this.

They had called on Tuesday but my Wednesday was already tied up so this was the best I could do. I had to argue wth the hardware vendor about installing Linux. They wanted me to do it, which is fine but I pointed out that if there were any stupid driver problems etc. that would just delay me and that I did NOT have Friday open. I also explained that after about 3:00 PM I turn into a drooling idiot.. well, I start turning about 3:00. You do not want me doing anything that requires brains late afternoon or later. So they agreed to do the Linux.

Good thing. When I arrived at 7:00 AM Thursday morning, the owner told me that she had been there with the hardware folks until after 8:00 PM the previous night. They'd had some problem, she said, but she didn't know what it was. Later that day I heard they didn't fix whatever it was until 11:00 PM! That sounds like it might have messed up my day!

So, first thing was to install Linux Filepro. That's easy if you have Filepro and Unix experience; without that it could send you off screaming and smashing things. You need to download a license file - that's confusing because they tell you that it is keyed to the domain name (meaning the Linux domain, not Windows, of course) but actually it's keyed to "hostname". Moreover, I couldn't download it with Firefox, so I used IE on Windows, emailed it to myself, and then used Gmail on Firefox to get the file in place.

The installer had put telnetd on but had not enabled it - they need that because the Windows desktops all use Facetwin. More on that later..

The SCO had done an FTP backup with Microlite Edge. That helps SO much: I made a /oldsco directory and restored everything to that. I used the scripts at How can I transfer SCO accounts (passwd information) to Linux? to convert the users over and then copied their .profile files to .bash_profile. I moved the /appl/filepro stuff into place, checked edits, brought in printer definitions and so on, and we pretty much had a working system.

Oooh, not so fast. Printing wasn't right. I had set the printer as "RAW" in cups but it needed to be 66 lines per page. To solve that, I put in a System V script like this:

echo -e "\033E\c"		# Reset Printer
echo -e "\033)0B\c"	# Secondary character set line draw
echo -e "\033&k2G\c"	# Set line termination mode.
shift; shift; shift; shift; shift
	for file in $files
					echo -e "\033&l66p2e7.6c66F\c"
					echo -e "\033&a4L\c"
					echo -e "\033&k11H\c"
                cat $file
		echo -e "\033E\c"		# Reset Printer
		echo -e "\033)0B\c"	# Secondary character set line draw
		echo -e "\033&k2G\c"	# Set line termination mode.

I cribbed the sequences from the SCO interface script (adding "-e" to the "echo" lines for bash). That got the stuff to 66 lines per page, but it still isn't quite right. I assume that might be because the SCO driver passes the file through lprpp (a filter that converts backspace overstrike to line overprint th horizontal print positioning to enhance bold print)>, which doesn't exist on Linux (as far as I know right now). Soo.. there needs to be some experimentation done on that still. Hard for me to do from here as I can't see the results. I've asked them to mess with it.

But here's the really, really weird thing. When I first thought about this, I had a momentary brain stoppage and I just added the original SCO interface script as a Sys V interface file. Now that's not going to work: it needs "-e" on the echo's and there's that missing "lprpp". Like I said, brain stoppage. But.. it DID work. That is, it worked until we rebooted and then it spit the expected errors: couldn't find "lprpp", didn't interpret the escape sequences because no "-e".. I'm baffled by that. WHY did it work when I first did it?? Baffled..

Next problem was Facetwin. I of course had installed Facetwin on the Linux box, but they still had their old software on the PC's. When you tell it to connect, it says it needs to upgrade, but can't. If you ignore the upgrade it works.. for some users. Why some? I dunno. Some of the users who do work can do multiple Facetwin sessions, some can't.. I don't know a thing about Facetwin, don't want to know a thing about it either. I suggested they call Facet. The users it does not work for can use Putty, their .bash_profile files are identical.. I dunno.

Of course there are some Filepro problems. They had 4.5 on the SCO and this is now 5.6. Little things in the code like a commented out label will break in 5.6. As they find 'em, I can fix 'em. I wouldn't do any Filepro programming for new work, but I don't mind doing a little fixup and maintenance

So there we are. Printing close, but not perfect. Facetwin working for some people, not for others. A few lingering Filepro issues that I can fix. Good enough for the moment considering the rush job.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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Fri Apr 29 13:27:41 2011: 9471   JohnG


Could you have just created an lprpp wrapper that simply passes through the standard input? I came across this blog entry, because I recently switched over my office's printers to cups. The only problem is that any PCL print jobs that seem to mess with the pitch, etc don't print properly via CUPS unless using a PXLMONO driver.

BUT, the PXLMONO driver takes forever when printing any decent-sized PDF file. GRRRR

Fri Apr 29 13:42:35 2011: 9472   TonyLawrence


Yes, but that's not an easy filter to just dash off..


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