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

m. allan noah kitno455 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 18 15:44:49 UTC 2010

On Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 11:26 AM, Simon Matter <simon.matter at invoca.ch> wrote:
>> A-
>> 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:
>> 110100
>> 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.

And I should have said in previous email, that this sentence is the
key issue for me:

> What the community could to is recommend more to others what works well
> and what does not.

Which is more important to you: knowing beforehand that a purchase
will work well, or knowing that and ALSO knowing that the maker had
some hand in that support? Even more bluntly, are you happy if the
maker provides a perfect driver for your platform, but ignores users
on other platforms? Do you care if you get the source or not? In some
ways this is the Free Software vs Open Source debate.

Unfortunately, there will never be a company with consistent ratings
for support, due to things like licensed IP, etc.

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

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