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Pharos Public Student Printing at MIT

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What is Pharos and why are we using it?

Pharos printer

Pharos is a software package that provides "hold-and-release" printing. Normally, when you print a job, it is sent directly to the printer. Under a hold-and-release system, when you print a job, it goes into a queue where it is held until retrieved by you at a "release station". MIT aims to reduce the cost of public printing by eliminating waste and encouraging deliberate printing, without unduly reducing access or increasing cost to students. For information on Pharos, the recommendations, the trade-offs, and to leave feedback, see the What is Pharos and why are we using it? article.

Where are all the printers located?

Most printers are located in Athena clusters and dorms. A few can be found in the MIT Libraries and near Athena Quickstation kiosks.

Hey! Where did my print queues go?! Where's 'ajax'?

As part of the transition to Pharos in August 2011, we have removed the individual queues for the cluster and dorm printers (e.g. ajax, homer, pindar, nysa, etc.). Athena users can print to the printer named mitprint and pick up your jobs from any of the cluster or dorm printers; Windows and Mac users who previously configured specific printers on their machines will need to delete them and configure the Pharos queue (see below).

Who can use Pharos at MIT? Is there a quota?

Yes. For more information see Is there a print quota or charge for printing?.

What's in a username?

Kerberos username

MIT encourages you to set your username on your personal computer to be the same as your MIT Kerberos username. This gives you more flexibility when setting up your computer for personal printing, simplifies connecting to Athena and using Kerberos on your computer. Find out how at: Setting your username on your personal computer to your MIT Kerberos username. If, however, you prefer to use a different username on your personal computer, you can still print to the Pharos printers using the Pharos "Popup" client described below."

How to print from...

Microsoft Windows

Option 1: Install the Pharos "Popup" client
Option 2: Set it up as a network printer ( Your username on your computer must match your MIT Kerberos username for this option to work.)

Apple Mac OS X

Option 1: Install the Pharos "Popup" client
Option 2: Set it up as an LPR network printer ( Your username on your computer must match your MIT Kerberos username for this option to work.)


  • Select the printer "mitprint" (from a print dialog box or the command line).
    The individual printer names (ajax, homer, helios, savion, bias, etc.) are no longer available.


Option 1: Install the Pharos printing client on Ubuntu
Option 2: Set up Pharos as an LPR network printer on Ubuntu ( Your username on your computer must match your MIT Kerberos username for this option to work.)

Instructions are for Ubuntu 14.04 but should readily translate to other distributions on Linux.

Getting Help

  1. To report a problem with a printer or the Pharos system send mail to CopyTech at
    • Make sure you include your username, the name of the specific printer, and any error messages you received.
    • Mail you send will generate a trouble ticket and you should receive a ticket reference number almost immediately.
    • Examples of the kinds of things to report:
      • Printer out of paper or toner.
      • Printer physically broken
      • Printer is stuck on a job or not accepting new jobs.
      • Printer is displaying an error that won't go away.
      • Your card does not work on Pharos or you get an error when you swipe.
      • Your account quota needs to be reset
  2. To get help with printing from an application on Athena, contact Athena Consulting as you would for other Athena software questions
  3. To get help setting up a network printer on your Mac or Windows computer contact the Computing Help Desk as you would for other Mac or Windows questions

Printing from mobile devices

There is no vendor support (or indeed industry standard OS support) for mobile devices such as iPhones or Android phones to print to Pharos or generally to networked LP printers and other enterprise-scale printing infrastructures. However, several promosing technologies are beginning to emerge from companies such as Google and others. Now that we have Pharos in place we are beginning to look at possible solutions to the problem of basic printing from mobile operating systems that might work in a technologically diverse environment such as MIT. Stay tuned! (And do let us know if you'd like to help or have any suggestions!)

In addition, congratulations to the print@mit 6.570 team for placing second in the IAP 2012 6.570 competition with their printing app. In addition to allowing job submission, it also shows status and location information on MIT public student printers. Great stuff! The team is currently working with IS&T to get the app ready for deployment through the Android Market

Feedback and Suggestions

The transition of MIT public student printing to the Pharos hold-and-release system came about through recommendations by several MIT task forces (2009. 2010) and the Athena Working Group (2010), with the participation of DUE, IS&T, the UA, and several other student and administrative organizations. As we observe the new system during its first year in production, we are actively seeking student feedback and suggestions. Please feel free to send a note to:

with any and all suggestions and feedback you have. You message will go to representatives from the UA and IS&T.

See also

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

May 08, 2015

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This article is:
  1. Aug 25, 2011

    Pharos printers are in Athena clusters.

    For a map of Athena clusters, see

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