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15 May 2007

scanning on linux

Hello Everyone,

Yesterday I needed to scan some documents and I borrowed an HP PSC 1110 from my sister. Knowing that the official HP drivers for that printer/scanner are distributed only in a 160MB bundle with all sorts of unnecessary software, I thought about it (for just a second) and decided to try to do my scans on linux. I do know that the HP PSC 1110 printer is damn hard to get working but would the scanner be tricky as well?

Let's get things started: scanning on linux == SANE (Scanner Access Now Easy)
So I fired up Gentoo's emerge utils and found two interesting packages: sane-frontends and sane-backends. Looks simple...

# emerge sane-frontends
brought along sane-backends as a dependency, as expected.

Next step: Detect my USB scanner
Ok, so sane-find-scanner seems to understand that there is some kind of a scanner attached to an USB port, but does not know anything else about it. scanimage -L complains about "no scanner found".

Perhaps a specific backend is necessary to talk to that particular scanner. So I went to take a look at the hplip (HP Linux Imaging and Printing) project. Indeed they have a backend for the PSC 1110 (and others) and all I had to do was to re-emerge the hplip package with the scanner use flag activated;
# USE="scanner" emerge hplip
This time hplip installed and changed /etc/sane.d/dll.conf to include the following line: "hpaio" - the backend for an entire class of HP scanners including mine.

Finally scanimage -L detects my scanner as something like:
device 'hpaio:/usb/psc_1100_series?serial=XXXXXXXXXXXX' is a hp psc_1100_series multi-function peripheral. Whoohoo!!

Time to scan! Multiple frontends may be used with libsane (list of frontends) but I used what is probably the simplest available: scanimage.
$ scanimage --batch-mode=yes > file.pnm
How cool is that??

If you do not like the terminal interface, you have xsane (with gimp plugin), kooka (kde's sane frontend), openoffice, scanlite (java), sanetwain (sane to twain bridge - for windows apps), ...

Cheers, PJ.

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