PageMaker Desktop Publishing and Networks

For the typical network administrator, dealing with legacy programs like PageMaker can be one of the more challenging tasks in a secure Windows 2000/XP Pro environment. These recommendations are based on our intimate knowledge of Pagemaker and similar applications while supporting DTP clients who demand reliable network capabilities.

These are main issues:

  • User Rights / Profile Usage under Win NT, Windows 2000 / XP Pro
  • Networked Installation and Configuration.
  • Tuning your network parameters on both servers and clients

It is assumed those reading this have read the main Pagemaker 6.5 7.0 Windows 2000 XP FAQ. If not, please start with the Main FAQ and come back.. There is a lot of relevant info to Desktop Publishing and Operating Systems in general.

We have recently added: Notes on Desktop Publishing Applications and Samba

First, the plain English, no BS disclaimer: Everything here is at your own risk. If you as a system administrator or department head decide to start editing PageMaker files off a network server, don’t complain if all sudden of a users cannot open files or PageMaker crashes when you go to save or print. Adobe and many PageMaker experts will tell you not to edit live PageMaker files across a network and they do so based on experience and very legitimate reasons. Saving Pagemaker files on a network is unsupported by Adobe.

What makes DTP applications like Pagemaker and others difficult to lock down on a Windows 2000 network?

Because, most DTP applications:

  • Are complex applications typically targeted at professional users, who are are assumed to be somewhat knowledgeable about computers. These applications also interact more deeply into the internals of the OS including: These applications have fonts, graphics, color profiles and printing needs which are far more sophisticated than a typical office app. Thus, they are more “unstable” on less than well setup systems or conversely show system weaknesses which will not show when running other applications.
  • Are truly cross platform. Macs, up until OSX were really not meant to be “secured”. No trolling intended, just the reality that user friendliness and security are not close relatives. Most Adobe applications on a Mac or Windows are about as close in function as you can get in a sophisticated cross platform application. For most knowledgable DTP users it is not difficult to switch between Pagemaker or Photoshop on Mac and PC.
  • In our strongly held view, even when used within a “protected” network environment DTP users (should) be setup as a sub-domain or separately organized group with their hardware and software needs addressed separately from more common office tasks. Try running PM or Photoshop from a Terminal Server..(bad idea – for masochist admins only – see below).
  • Are essentially single user applications. Think about it. Designing or creating something in Illustrator, Pagemaker or Photoshop is mostly a single user task. Only the newest DTP apps like Indesign or Illustrator 10 support workgroups through Webdav.
  • Use of the registry (which is dictated by MS) is something grafted onto Pagemaker. Most of the configuration settings are held in binary files which are not set per user, but are system wide. These cannot be controlled by registry or group policies.
  • Pagemaker itself is one of the oldest apps ever developed for personal computers. (Macs are included in this group.) The first Windows version of Pagemaker came with a “runtime” version of Windows 1.x. One reason for their longevity is the loyal user base these applications have – and – the time investment users have made to learn these applications. Pagemaker users waited almost seven years for an upgrade.
  • Network administrators will find much of the above applies to many DTP applications, it is just that Pagemaker is the most popular and often the first “serious” publishing application installed for users. So, it gets the brunt of the criticism.
  • There are reasonable workarounds, if you understand how to properly setup group policy. Roaming user profiles will NOT work. Pagemaker and many other DTP apps do not conform to user based policies on a Windows NT or 2000 based network. Many basically ignore the presence of user profiles.
  • For those users/organizations who need workgroup capabilities in publishing, there are a number of other higher end solutions, including Adobe Incopy and Indesign. For those who need enhanced workgroup capabilities, these are recommended. Bring money though.

Within the realm for which it was designed, Pagemaker still is quite capable and serviceable, even with new operating systems. It is still one of the most relible creators of postscript of all DTP applications and it has very broad publishing capabilities out of the box. Quark Xpress often needs 3rd party plug-ins for the same functionality.

File Storage / Performance Issues

Quoting from Ian Wright, Adobe Users Forum leader and one of the true PageMaker gurus on the planet.

“Here’s some of my boilerplate on working across a network:

The main reason for not working across the network is the lack of error checking. When you have an application open and it is saving files it is writing directly to the drive. The operating system checks and balances are side-stepped. With a complex file structure, this can lead to troubles. And even worse, you won’t know there was a problem until you try to reopen the file. If you save locally, then use the operating system to move the files out to the network you get the benefit of error checking (CRC checks, etc.). Saving locally has the same risks with a complex file, but it doesn’t have the myriad of glitches (time outs, incomplete data packs, data collisions, etc.) that occur on a network.

So, it isn’t that a file *can’t* be worked on across a network. It is just a lot safer to work locally. It also helps keep the network administrator off your back for impacting overall performance. It isn’t so bad with programs like databases that might only keep one record or so open at a time. But when you have a large file open, with a lot of disk intensive operations constantly going on, you are just asking for trouble working across a network connection.

We’ll add here that the PM 6.x / 7.0 file structure is one of the most complex on a PC, similar to a complex relational database – except – think having the whole database open in memory and writing in one stream across the wire. That said, the caveats about working on a network that Ian has given are 100% correct from a technical standpoint. Contrary to this, there are legitimate reasons for operating PageMaker in a network setting: work-flow necessities, corporate IT policy, ease and reliability of backup are all very valid considerations.

Network Tuning Recommendations

How then to overcome this? With very careful planning, installation and testing, you can, on a day to day basis, comfortably and reliably work on a network with InDesign and/or PageMaker files. (Photoshop 6 has a network specific bug related to the preferences file. The preferences file will sometimes need to be recreated to fix file open hangs.)

We have clients running PM/ID/PS on Win2k/Win2k Server with extraordinary reliability. Perhaps 1 or 2 files in a whole year fail because of network problems. The reliability and efficiency gains have vastly outweighed the monetary/time investment. Our clients also like the security of walking out of the building every night with a backup of all files in progress.

The recipe: ( no magic formula 🙁 )

  1. Work in a “native” network setting. All NT server and NT workstations (which are vastly better for reliability compared Win9x) or Mac/Mac Server on TCP/IP. Wait a while for XP. You can still and will be able for some time (2003?) to get Win2k for workstation and Server. Although Novell is wonderful as a file server OS, it is much more troublesome on the client side with certain DTP apps, especially with Win2k/XP clients. Specifically, test and experiment with the older and newer versions of the Novell client software. Sometimes, switching to the Microsoft version of the Novell client will fix file locking and file in use errors.
    Included in this is the recommendation to make sure your networking protocols are symmetric between workstations and server. We have found mixed clients ( 95,98 and NT all running with the defaults installs on some networks can cause all kinds of havoc with Pagemaker network enviroments. The Win95 defaults include IPX, but 98, ME and Windows 2000 all differ. If you have to run two at the same time, try running TCP as the default, even if the workstations are not Internet connected.
  2. Bulletproof your network hardware. This is an area where you get what you pay for. No generic cards or plain hubs. Ethernet boilerplate: The cost difference between a switch and a plain hub is minimal these days. The difference in performance is remarkable and will give each workstation full bandwidth on each segment. Moreover, with the typically large files used in DTP the reduction in latency will reduce the kinds of file problems Ian mentions above. Best in breed hardware will pay for itself over time. We can recommend installing 2 or 3 Intel Pro 100+ server cards with Adapter Teaming and Load Balancing. The Intel driver software has been extremely reliable in this application.
  3. Bulletproof your clients DTP applications like Photoshop are probably the most demanding applications on the planet in terms of stressing hardware. Pagemaker and Indesign are not far behind. Photoshop can surface the most subtle hardware bugs which will never show up with other applications like BIOS bugs, drive firmware errors, memory timing mismatches, weak memory modules not only on the motherboard, but video cards too. The main FAQ has detailed hardware recommendations which we have developed from several years of experience suppporing DTP users.
  4. Overbuild your server capabilities, preferably dedicated to your workgroup separate from other company servers. Our experience has shown this rule of thumb: plan 4x to 5x the headroom of a “normal” network. Thus, if you have DTP files hosted on the server, with 10 total users, plan the normal capacity / performance you would plan for a 50 user network. Disk space, memory and drive throughput are most important. The best option for a workgroup is mirrored (for redundancy) and striped (for sequential read and write speed) Ultra 160 SCSI controllers with min. 7200 rpm disks. Programs like ID and PM demand good sequential read and write performance more so than other applications. As an example, a simple “save as” can cause PM to write as much as 100mb in a single file. All it takes is a few bits to go astray and someone’s work for the day is trashed.
  5. Good file organization on the server. Within a workgroup, permanently map the same logical drives to group working folders will help reduce link problems. Ex: p:\ = \pre-press s:\ = scans exactly the same way on all DTP workstations. Unlike some other applications, internal links within PageMaker documents are critical for reliable files. Educate your users about the importance of keeping the links usable for all users in a workgroup. The most important is not to link an image file to a server based document to a local workstation.
  6. If you are using Pagemaker on Windows 2000, where you are saving files to a a network environment make sure PM is installed on a FAT32 partition, even if this is only a small 200-300 Mb partition. It will perform much better and eliminate weird error messages. This is a specific problem with cut and paste explained in the main FAQ.
  7. Change the autodisconnect “feature” in all flavors of NT. The default setting of 15 minutes may cause file save errors or corruption. As mentioned above, PageMaker needs to save data in a contiguous manner. More like 60-90 minutes should do the trick.;EN-US;q138365 has the fix and;en-us;Q297684 explains more of the details. It is our opinion this should be made as a permanent registry change to both workstations and servers.
  8. Torture test. Test some more..Then test again. Use copies of existing files to measure the performance. A possible test scenario. Prepare 4 workstations as follows: Two will temporarily copy 2gb folders. Two will copy from the server. Test for latency, throughput and data errors. NT, like Solaris or Linux has a multitude of tools for measuring system performance.. Use them. Figure out based on your own situation to completely and repeatedly saturate the network and see what might break. If all is well, then you might be ready for running this in a production environment.

User Rights / Profiles Issues

At minimum, PageMaker 6.5 / 7.0 users must be power users.

Repeat, at minimum, PageMaker 6.5 / 7.0 users must be power users.

OK, are we clear on this?

No, you can’t install PageMaker, like Office and expect it to work under restricted user rights. PageMaker, which almost predates Windows itself, does not, nor was ever conceived to operate in the restricted workstation environment of Windows 2000 / XP Pro. As soon as a restricted user tries to run the app, a bunch of error messages will pop-up “can’t find Pagemaker’s registry settings” etc. and the program launch will fail.

If you have a Win2k server and Active Directory, there are a reasonable workarounds for security. Having seen our share of messy (user broken) workstations, we can sympathize with network administrators having seen the promised holy grail of a nice tidy locked down network, suddenly having it taken away… Remember, the network is for the users to get their jobs done, not for pleasure of IT administration.

Unlike typical users, you should loosen up rights on printer configuration for PM users. For PM users setting and adjusting printers is part of their job. Any everyday PM user should also be a member of Print Operators group on a Win NT network. For DTP we find TCP/IP based shared printing is most reliable. As for problems with mixed Mac and Win2k environments, we have yet to see this problem on Win2k server with Mac clients. As noted on the main FAQ page, there is a bug on Win 2k where PC’s can’t read the correct file size on Services For Macintosh folders on an NT file server. but otherwise it works and performs OK.

User Profiles / Roaming Profiles / Server based installs

Pagemaker does not use user profiles, nor are settings kept per user. Nor are many settings made to the Windows registry on any version. Thus:

  • Pagemaker cannot be used with roaming profiles. Period. End of Story.
  • Pagemaker cannot easily be rolled out with group policy or repackaged with most network based installers like WISE. The settings made during install and most importanly, first application launch make system wide changes to the registry, and binary preference files used by Pagemaker. This should be done during the first launch with Administrator rights. Attempting a user based or scripted install will result in errors like each user to have to enter registration info among other issues or program errors later with plug-ins. A user even with power user rights cannot install Pagemaker properly The most reliable method of installing is to install with the day to day user’s log-in with local Administrator rights temporarily enabled. Finally, launch Pagemaker at least once as Administrator once to set the registry settings properly.
  • Pagemaker settings made by one user affect subsequent users who might login on the same workstation.

Our suggestion: Create a special group of PM users, make them power users locally – they do not have to have network admin . Then use Win2k group policy to explicitly tighten down permissions or assign shares where needed. Moreover, what is really important from a security standpoint should be server assigned anyway. in our opinion, where restrictions count: Internet Settings within IE,installation and configuration permissions. We are now recommending clients to move to Mozilla 1.1 or Opera as a default browser, if only to remove the continuing security risks and maintenance hassles of IE/Outlook and Outlook Express.

Use regedt32.exe to set permissions properly on one workstation. Test until properly working. Then, export the keys on one machine and import to the others. You might want to select a few machines that can be physically monitored if it is a concern.

You can store data files on NTFS without problems or measurable performance penalty. If you are using Novell and get file in use errors, try using the MS client. Win2k client/Win2k server has been faultless with our clients, once we figured out the need for FAT32.

Don’t try to muck around with copying profiles. The way we get around some of issues is to login, change the default day to day user to admin temporarily, install and reset to power user. That way, you have shortcuts etc. all set properly. PageMaker knows nothing about user profiles.

On Active Directory Win2k networks, you can use the group policy template compatws.inf file for a “compatible” workstation. Assign your PM users to a separate distinct group in AD and assign policies as necessary. This will loosen up some of the registry restrictions which give PageMaker and related programs fits. They are in the in the support tools folder on the win2k disk.

Run the tool from to check for GP conflicts.

Make sure these workstations have SP2 with application compatibility slayerui.dll registered. We have found the NT4SP5 choice works best. PageMaker 7.0 does not need this enabled on Windows2000 or XP.


This scenario has been set up for clients with AD and it has been very acceptable. This avoids user hassles by using GP to ratchet down policies where you truly need them. Within group policy get rid of Active Desktop COMPLETELY! e.g. no fade effect in the menus, shadowed mouse pointer etc. All that eye candy affects PM, Photoshop and other DTP applications. The apps cause screen redraws which can be more demanding on video than almost anything short of 3D games or CAD programs. We think this will be doubly important for XP’s new interface. Go with the “classic” interface in XP.

XP Networking Performance

It seems Microsoft reserves 20% of your bandwidth for use by the QOS (Quality Of Service) Scheduler, which is intended to reserve bandwidth for important applications, a rather wasteful choice. To increase your bandwidth, do the following:


  1. Make sure you’re logged in as Administrator, NOT just with any account with admin privileges!
  2. Click the Start button -> Run -> type: gpedit.msc Hit Enter or click OK.
  3. Navigate to Local Computer Policy -> Administrative Templates -> Network -> QOS Packet Scheduler.
  4. In the right hand pane double-click on the “Limit reservable bandwidth” setting.
  5. On the Setting tab check the Enabled box.
  6. Change “Bandwidth limit %” to read 0.
  7. Click OK and close Gpedit.msc.
  8. Under Start -> My Computer -> My Network Connections -> View Network Connections -> right-click on your connection -> select Properties (where your protocols are listed) -> make sure QOS Packet Scheduler is enabled.

You need to reboot for these changes to take effect.

NOTE: All this is necessary to counter Windows XP’s default behavior, which reserves 20% of your bandwidth even with the QOS Packet Scheduler disabled.

Other thoughts and recommendations:

Do not even think about running PageMaker as a server based application. That means no Terminal Servers or Citrix. Citrix Metaframe is a wonderful server for certain applications. We know Citrix and have experience setting it up for clients. PageMaker and the like (Photoshop, InDesign, Quark Xpress) are exactly the kind of program which do not operate well in a Terminal Services environment. The screen redraws alone will tax a terminal server setup heavily. User configuration issues will be the second. Drive performance will be the third. The ICA client cannot display the full resolution colors required to display and judge colors accurately. A program like PageMaker can consume up 100mb of real memory alone on an NT workstation with a large image laden document. Photoshop alone can easily take 150-300 mb by itself. The first part of the main FAQ discussed extensively the precise real world hardware needs for a reliable usable DTP workstation not a terminal. Enough to convince you this is a really bad idea? Like someone who always asked clients who would not take no for an answer – “What part of NO don’t you understand? “

PM 6.5 or 7.0, along with the group of apps that typically accompany it like Acrobat Distiller, Adobe Type Manager, Photoshop, Postscript Drivers, Corel Draw, Illustrator etc., need special consideration in every step from hardware to install on in a network environment.

PM is not a word processor. Post install, there is testing and configuration which HAS to be done machine by machine. Color profiles, monitor calibration for accuracy, printer setup, fonts, PS output testing, PDF output testing etc….

For a perfect flawless install of a complete DTP workstation with all the tweaks and testing plan at least 6 hr. minimum per workstation. Start to finish with testing is typically 8-10 hours. This attention to detail means clients rarely have problems after you finish, which will now reliably run what are arguably some of the more complex and demanding applications in the PC world.

Our advice for sys admins is to actually learn something about these programs by using them a bit. Your DTP users need good reliable fonts (Type 1 recommended, no shareware True Type fonts), well calibrated and profiled monitors, as well as printer reliability and resolution atypical for the typical office user.

Look at the Distiller Troubleshooting Guide Font substitution and distilling errors will probably be the number one reason for support calls. Recommend to your users to avoid the Export to PDF function and separately create a postscript file. Then, use Distiller separately to create the PDF. It is our opinion and shared by many that the only reason to use Export to PDF is for bookmarks and hyperlinks in a PDF. The other option is to purchase the full Acrobat package, which can enable these features as well as other PDF editing options.

Pagemaker still has some important 16 bit code for compatibilty. We encourage users to maintain file names in a DOS and cross platform compatible mode, especially if the files will be sent to outside providers. Thus a deeply buried subdirectory under My Documents is to be avoided. Avoid illegal DOS characters, spaces and paths longer than 66 characters. It is better to redirect a folder to a mapped drive. This helps to avoid link errors with externally linked images and plug-in errors.

When purchasing Postscript laser printers for workgroups, we highly recommend Adobe®licensed Postscript engines in the mix of your analysis. Some clone interpreters have problems with complex output or certain font combinations. Normal office applications typically do not generate the type of complex output which causes postscript errors. Certainly, Pagemaker, Quark Xpress and InDesign can. The specs might say “Postscript compatible”, but with Pagemaker and other DTP applications, a genuine Adobe interpreter in the printer makes a great deal of difference. We answer questions about printer issues daily in the Adobe support problems. A large majority of the problems occur with third party interpreters. In our own experience our clients with true postscript printers have postscript errors about 3 or 4 times a year. No, we don’t get one cent for saying this. We recommend this because experience tells us so.

Comments? Drop us a line

First Release 12:02:2002

Revised 15:02:2003

This Document is offered to the public domain on the understanding that no sale of this information is undertaken by any recipient without authorization. Any reproduction of the information should be complete and entire and provide reference to the author.
The author(s)take no responsibility for any errors, omissions or misunderstandings. The information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind. In no event shall the author of this FAQ or the distributors of this FAQ be liable for any damages whatsoever including direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, loss of business profits, or special damages, even if the author has been advised of the possibility of such damages.
Adobe,PageMaker, Photoshop, Acrobat and PostScript are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems. All other products mentioned in this file are trademarks of their respective companies.

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