Using a computer's parallel port to power switches on a robot

I am trying to build a robot using an older laptop and some automobile windshield wiper motors. I have Debian Linux (Lenny) installed on the
laptop and intend on using SSH over WiFi to communicate with the laptop on board the robot.
The wiper motors are 12 volts.
I'm interested in using the parallel port of the laptop to power mechanical switches to control the wiper motors. It wouldn't actually power the motor, just the switches to turn the motors on and off.
I was wondering if anyone's had experience using the parallel port to communicate with switches and if so, how to accomplish this in Linux?
Thanks.
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Not something I've done, but there are two basic approaches:
(1) look at the documentation for the ioperm() system call, which will give you direct access to the port using the outb() system call (here's an example: http://bigasterisk.com/projects/parallel )
(2) Take a look at the parport device.
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