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

m. allan noah kitno455 at gmail.com
Mon Jun 14 15:01:16 UTC 2010

You obviously put quite a bit of time into your post, and I am sorry
you did not get the response you envisioned. It was certainly not our
intention to ignore you. SANE is a fairly small project, and most of
us barely have enough time to keep the ~500K lines of code running,
let alone discuss bigger projects or architectural issues. It is also
quite possible that you covered the topic well, and no-one had any
additional input. We have all been dealing with hardware manufacturers
for quite some time, and might be a bit tired of talking to a brick
wall :)


On Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 5:45 AM, augustin <sane at overshoot.tv> wrote:
> Hello,
> 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. :)
> Blessings,
> Augustin.
> On Tuesday 01 June 2010 03:59:53 pm augustin wrote:
>  Hello,
>  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:
>  http://linux.overshoot.tv/blogs/augustin/shopping_and_linux_hardware_support
>  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
>  blog.
>  Thanks,
>  Augustin.
>  -----------------------
>  http://linux.overshoot.tv/blogs/augustin/shopping_and_linux_hardware_support
>  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
>  control</em>.
>  <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
>  scanners:
>  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
>  href="http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/sane-
>  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
>  future.
>  Here is the ticket to discuss this question: [#96]
>  http://linux.overshoot.tv/ticket/96
>  Here is the corresponding wiki page:
>  http://linux.overshoot.tv/wiki/hardware/hardware_owners_help_linux_driver_developpers
>  <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
>  right.
>  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:
>  http://linux.overshoot.tv/wiki/hardware/most_linux_friendly_hardware_manufacturers
>  <h2>Conclusion</h2>
>  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.
> --
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> http://www.wechange.org/ http://searching911.info/
> .
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