Originally Published: Sunday, 9 April 2000 Author: Jan-Erik Mouzakis Gagnum
Published to: enhance_articles_multimedia/Images Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Scanners & Linux

How many times have you wanted to purchase a scanner, but was not sure if it was supported in Linux? Most people have come across this problem more than once. The reason for this (and I have stressed it in the past), is that most manufacturers just don't recognize Linux as an Operating System that has a future with their product. They only want to provide where they deem right. For them, right is where the money can be found.

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How many times have you wanted to purchase a scanner, but was not sure if it was supported in Linux? Most people have come across this problem more than once. The reason for this (and I have stressed it in the past), is that most manufacturers just don't recognize Linux as an Operating System that has a future with their product. They only want to provide where they deem right. For them, right is where the money can be found.

For the past couple of years any Linux user who wanted to take advantage of a scanner would have to build drivers for it through reverse engineering. In addition they also needed to build the scanning software, typically a GUI. The problem with this was that the drivers had to be specifically built so that the scanner would talk with a specific type of application. This is similar to the TWAIN software standard under Windows, incorporating a driver with a GUI. There are many reasons why TWAIN is inefficient. Namely it's only for Windows, and it doesn't handle input very well because there is a set way it has to be entered.

"Scanner Access Now Easy" -- SANE is the result of many developers around the globe working together to avoid the problems that TWAIN presents in Windows. Essentially it is a universal scanner interface. It provides a frontend, which accepts data and actions from any source, and is free to provide the results from the scan in any way. It talks with a backend to the driver of the scanner. The genius concept behind this is that the frontend does not deal in any way with the hardware, thus providing a common or universal interface to various supported scanners. The Backends, or scanner drivers, are only responsible for handling the input from the frontend and delivering the output.

This is the reason why SANE is so great: there is actually a middle-man, as it were, between the software and the scanner. To see a quick list of the currently supported scanners and their present status, check out the sane backends. You will notice that models from the same manufacturer have the same driver because the basic hardware design is essentially the same.

We have not really talked about different types of scanners. Parallel scanners might be the cheapest but they are also the most outdated and the hardest to find good support for in Linux. It is definitely worth the trouble to go out and buy a SCSI adapter and a SCSI based scanner. It might be a little bit more expensive, but the performance is much better. More importantly, it's guaranteed support in Linux. USB based scanners have also gained popularity in the past few years. According to Jonathan Buzzard, Epson and HP have particularly good support. Visit his site to find out more information about parallel port scanners under Linux.

As USB starts to take off as one of the leading technologies in periferal devices, SANE is always expanding, supporting these emerging technologies. SANE is a great innovation not only for scanners, but also for other periferals such as digital cameras, and Quickcam recorders. Linux is ready for the next generation of multimedia computing using periferal devices under SANE.





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