Advice on making a legacy printer AirPrint capable

My household consists of mainly Macs, iPhones and iPads. Printing from iOS devices is a real pain since my 20 year old LaserJet 4050N printer doesn't support AirPrint. We can only print by transferring them to a MacOS or Windows machine. I am hoping to make the printer AirPrint accessible using my Linksys E1500 or WNDR3300v1 router, but I am confused about how to proceed.

I couldn't find an ready-made OpenWRT firmware suitable for this purpose. The instructions I've read require installing CUPS and a bunch if other packages such as USB support. I am afraid of exceeding the RAM capacity on my router and I'm unsure many of the packages are required. My printer may be old, but it already has a very capable built-in JetDirect Network Server. It also doesn't have nor needs a USB interface and neither do my routers.

Specifically, what starter firmware should I download? What packages should I install? Is there any information, documentation or tutorial describing the process?

Sorry, you are out of luck. Both routers have very little rom space to host cups. (Cups alone use 10 mb of rom, and both of your routers don't qualify).

The easiest way is to buy a print server that supports airprint by default. The only problem is that these aren't exactly cheap, and depending on where you live, it can be expensive.

Your best bet at this point is to put a small x86 machine connected to it (el cheapo of el cheapos will do), or a Raspberry PI and from that, we can probably help with your little problem.

macOS user here!

I have macOS Server in basement and it's running this one app:

and share one Canon LBP 6000B as "airprint" for all iOS devices.

That laserjet is PostScript capable and should not need any firmware. Apple bought CUPS and uses it in post 2008 systems. In CUPS, choose AppSocket/HP jetdirect and configure port 9100.

For example socket://

As I mentioned, I am trying to make the printer discoverable as an AirPrint device. I can already print without the need for CUPS wirelessly from any of my desktops or laptops, just not on any iOS device.

I'm hoping to setup my router as a "proxy" to advertise the printer and route printing traffic directly to it. It should be possible as its a fairly lightweight operation.

I've set up a few network printers using linux avahi discovery but am not an Apple phone/tablet user.

OpenWrt does have a p910nd print server but I think its main utility is to connect a usb printer to the LAN. I have not seen anything to suggest that the p910nd opkg would be discovered by AirPrint. I also suspect that a printer of that vintage likely has an ethernet card or parallel port and no usb port.

Debian has a wiki on Airprinting and glancing at it does not look encouraging.

I did this using a raspberry pi zero w for an older dell printer. I installed raspberry pi OS on the pi zero along with CUPS. I can now print easily from any phone or iPad on the network.

The nice thing with the raspberry pi zero w is you can put your printer anywhere you want. It doesn’t need to be attached to the router.

Could you detail how did you accomplished it? Will it also support scanning?

It wasn't too difficult.

  • Install Rapsberry Pi OS
  • Update RPi OS (sudo apt update & sudo apt upgrade)
  • Install CUPS
  • Configure CUPS via web interface (http://xxx:631/) (xxx is the IP of your RPi)

I don't have a scanner attached, but it looks like you can enable shared network access to a scanner with SANE. I found this with a quick google search.

@Joebeazelman ,

Sorry I'm so late to reply but Lantronix xprintserver is the way to go. Pricey at MSRP but available elsewhere for less. I have the ios xprintserver and android (Google) xprintserver. The ios edition is many years old. Doesn't matter what network config you have, just works, everytime. I wish all network attached devices were this good. Shows up immediately in ios print que after configuring, and by configuring I mean choosing your printing devices. Gives Printer properties and options right from the ios print dialog box. Doesn't need to connect to printer(s), just ethernet to your network. It can handle a multitude of printers from the one device. Has it's own local webpage for serious configuring. Have you already chosen something else? If so let us know. Thanks.