[sane-devel] Hardware compatibility ongoing problem and what can be done about it

augustin sane at overshoot.tv
Sun Jun 13 09:45:45 UTC 2010


I wrote last week about not being able to buy a SANE-supported scanner, and 
especially about 3 specific long term actions to be coordinated with similar 
schemes in order to improve the long term prospects of hardware linux support.

I was surprised by two things: first by the high number of hits my mail 
generated on the Linux web site, and secondly by the complete lack of 
constructive replies both on this list and by private emails. It's a shame 
that nobody had anything constructive and positive to contribute to any of the 
3 action plans I had highlighted.

Anyway, since I am not a SANE developer, and, I much regret, not event a SANE 
user, I will now unsubscribe from this list. 
If at any time in the future someone stumbles upon this archived email,  they 
may either email me privately or, even better, contribute their knowledge in 
the wiki and in the relevant tickets on the web site (links below).

Thanks again for your hard work developing drivers. :)



On Tuesday 01 June 2010 03:59:53 pm augustin wrote:
 I almost wrote a few weeks back about advice for a new scanner. First, I
  did the most of the available documentation (thanks for it!) but then I
  gave up the idea of buying a new linux fully supported scanner and ended
  up borrowing one from a friend, which I used on a windows machine! (the
  first time I use windows in many, many years!).
 But I am not writing to vent my frustration, far from it. First of all, I
  am grateful for all the work all of you guys are doing for the Linux user
  community :)
 I blogged about my experience here:
 Most importantly, I highlighted three areas where things can be (and are
  being) done.
 For your convenience, I copy the blog entry below, but the formatting and
  some links may appear better on the web page above.
 If you know anything that is relevant to the topics I am discussing (e.g.
  an existing, similar project), I'll add it to the wiki pages listed in the
 I was recently looking to buy a scanner with a good or complete support in
 Linux: I quickly discovered that it was <em>an exercise in frustration
 <h2>Linux hardware: an ongoing headache</h2>
 One of the ongoing problems when using Linux is that hardware manufacturers
  do not provide their full specifications to driver developers, much less
  do they develop and provide Linux drivers themselves. There are well known
  exceptions but by and large, it is a state of affair that has given
  headaches to more than one Linux users.
 All common hardware are well supported: CPUs, hard drives, most mother
  boards, etc. But when shopping for more specialized hardware, we are often
  facing a more difficult situation.
 As I needed a scanner, I did what I had to do. First I had a look at the
  list of scanners supported by the SANE (Scanner Access Now Easy) project,
  but it contains close to 1500 scanners <fn> See:
 http://linux.overshoot.tv/wiki/scanners </fn>.
 So I tried to operate the other way around: I went to the computer hardware
 shops and made a list of all the scanners available on the market today. I
 came back home with a list of manufacturers, product reference numbers and
 prices. (I didn't write down the specs since I knew I could check them
 online.) But then, I soon found out that it was close to impossible to
  compare the list I brought back from the shops to that of the SANE
  supported devices: scanners on one list are mostly not on the other list
  and vice-versa.
 How am I supposed to chose a scanner, then?
 I am certainly <em>not</em> blaming the SANE developers, who do what they
  can in their spare time according to the hardware they have access to. The
  situation is nonetheless vexing. We can do something about it.
 <h2>A positive approach</h2>
 Far from me the idea to rant on a known problem just for the sake of
  venting my frustration. I am posting this to assess the current situation
  and suggest possible courses of action. <em>The objective of this very web
  site (http://linux.overshoot.tv/ ) is to contribute something positive so
  that the situation improves over time.</em>
 What follows are more specific observations and practical action points.
 <h3>Catalogues of hardware with support status</h3>
 As noted above, it can be sometimes difficult to choose a specific hardware
  when there is almost no overlap between the list of devices available on
  the market place and the lists found on the internet with devices
  supported by Linux.
 Over the years, I have heard of several schemes to manually or
  automatically repertory the hardware owned by Linux users together with
  the availability and quality of Linux drivers. In some places, users are
  invited to manually modify a wiki to list their hardware <fn>See for
  example the official Ubuntu wiki where Ubuntu users have listed their
 https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupportComponentsScanners </fn>. Elsewhere,
 people are invited to download and run a script that will automatically
  list and submit their computer hardware into a central database <fn>There
  was a Red Had related project like this, but I forgot the name and the
  link... Follow up here: [#95]. http://linux.overshoot.tv/ticket/95  </fn>.
 It is one of the main mission of this site to repertory and list all the
  best resources and documentation available on the internet. If you know of
  any good project, you may list them on the hardware home page here:
 http://linux.overshoot.tv/wiki/hardware .
 <h3>Requests for testing: connecting driver developers to end users</h3>
 While looking for my elusive, ideal scanner, I browsed the SANE mailing
  list and noticed a few threads where driver developers were asking
  specific device owners to help by testing and providing feedback <fn>See
  for example those two recent threads: <a
  devel/2010-March/026318.html">any sniff volunteers unsupported Canon
  scanners</a> and <a href="http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/sane-
  devel/2010-March/026293.html">To owners of CanoScan 5600F: please
  volunteer for testing</a>.</fn>.
 In the most ideal situation, hardware manufacturers would provide the full
 specs for each of their devices. The Linux community has many, many
  talented driver developers. However, those developers obviously do not own
  the full range of hardware available on the market, nor do they have the
  money to purchase all the newest, most popular hardware entering the
  market. For them to be able to do their job, they need to have access,
  directly or remotely to the devices that need to be tested.
 In the example above of SANE developers asking scanner owners to volunteer,
 the developers are obviously pooling their (hardware) resources via the
  SANE development mailing list. The obvious limitation is that even the
  whole membership of the said mailing list may not own the full range of
  devices to test.
 So, the question now is: how do we help open source driver developers get
  in touch with Linux users who own a device to be tested?
 I do not have a ready answer to this question, but it is an important one
  if we want to improve the range of Linux open source drivers in the
 Here is the ticket to discuss this question: [#96]
 Here is the corresponding wiki page:
 <h3>Manufacturer Hall of (Linux) Honour</h3>
 Again and again, the open source driver developers remind us that we should
 blame the manufacturers for any lack of proper Linux drivers. And they are
 I think it is about time there were a <em>coordinated</em> effort for the
  Linux community to lobby the manufacturers and pressure them with our
  wallet whenever we go out and purchase some hardware.
 Currently, Linux consumers can only proceed using hearsays. For example, I
 have personally heard a lot of good about HP's friendliness towards Linux.
 (Yet, I was not able to find a HP scanner on the market today that is on
  the SANE list of supported hardware. But I did find some in the shops that
  were officially <em>not</em> supported.)
 We need to quantify and substantiate such claims so as to build an
 authoritative list of the most Linux-friendly manufacturers. We need to
  build a list of objective criteria and measure every manufacturer with the
  same stick.
 We can discuss this specific issue here:
 [#99] http://linux.overshoot.tv/ticket/99
 and document what we find here:
 Obviously, the projects and ideas highlighted above will not happen on
  their own. Neither is it me alone who will make a difference. I am simply
  hoping that the Linux user community will shine and be at its best: let
  everyone contribute a little something and soon the situation we're facing
  when hardware shopping might be different.
friends: http://www.reuniting.info/ http://activistsolutions.org/
my projects:
http://astralcity.org/ http://3enjeux.overshoot.tv/ http://linux.overshoot.tv/ 
http://overshoot.tv/ http://charityware.info/ http://masquilier.org/
http://openteacher.info/ http://minguo.info/ 
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