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

m. allan noah kitno455 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 18 14:51:24 UTC 2010


On Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 1:07 AM, augustin <sane at overshoot.tv> wrote:

> I believe in wallet advocacy: if we only had a reliable and objective
> assessment of the linux-(un)friendliness of hardware manufacturers, Linux
> users across the globe could be encouraged to buy from certain manufacturers
> rather than from others. To be effective, this should be a concerted effort
> based on facts rather than hearsay (the kind that is spread in forums and user
> mailing lists by people who don't really know).

Support from a maker is a bitmap:

6: Provides FOSS drivers (or pays FOSS devels to write)
5: Provides Unencumbered Documentation
4: Gives hardware to outside FOSS developers
3: Loans hardware to outside FOSS developers
2: Provides Encumbered (NDA) Documentation
1: Provides proprietary drivers for one or more platforms

Different makers actually have different divisions, which might do
different things: Buying an expensive scanner will get you loaner
hardware and docs. Buying a cheap scanner will get you ignored, cause
you are talking to two different groups.

I will only speak to the companies I have worked with:

1. Fujitsu USA paid me to add some enhancements to the sane-fujitsu
driver, and gave me hardware and docs. I even spoke with a couple of
engineers over the years. However, they were unable to help when I
asked for docs about the Epson-based (epjitsu) small machines. Fujitsu
bitmap: 111110, epjitsu bitmap: 000000. Stark difference, no?

2. Canon USA loaned me hardware so I could reverse engineer their DR
series machines, even though they were holding the docs I needed.
After I developed the driver, they released a competing closed driver
that covers fewer models and runs on fewer platforms :( DR series
bitmap: 000101.

Canon of India has recently provided funds and documentation for us to
improve support for their least expensive model: 110000. However,
IIRC, 'sane-pixma' driver was completely reverse engineered: 000000.

See- Three completely different responses from the same 'company'.

3. Kodak loaned me a very, very expensive scanner for over a year to
write the sane-kodak driver. They gave me docs, access to engineers,
and worked one of my suggestions back into their firmware! bitmap:

But then, they released a closed driver for a few of their smaller
machines, which only runs on a few platforms, and tried to make it
sound open by word-smithing. 000001.

The take-home here is that companies are people too. The cannot be
rated or measured to an objective standard, and they cannot be
expected to react logically, even when presented with a problem with a
single obvious solution :) Perhaps I have become jaded, but there is
not enough buying power in the Linux community to make a blip in the
average scanner maker's sales numbers. It might be a fine way to
reinforce existing behaviour of good makers. If you want to change the
bad ones, better luck will be had with convincing a human with some
power. People make the decisions, not spreadsheets.

"The truth is an offense, but not a sin"

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