[sane-devel] Epson & HP

Olaf Meeuwissen paddy-hack at member.fsf.org
Sun Apr 26 05:37:38 BST 2020


Brian Potkin writes:

> On Wed, 22 Apr 2020 at 16:34, Ralph Little <skelband at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> HP and Epson provide pretty decent Linux support for many of their
>> machines, and while binary only drivers, that's pretty sweet.
> AFAIK, you are correct about Epson scanner drivers; they are binary-only.

Eh, sorry but that's incorrect.  Source code is available from


for three kinds of "drivers", two of which I've worked on for a combined
total of 15 years (until 2015).  I just pulled the tarballs and checked
to make sure things haven't changed in the meantime.

For iscan-2.30.4, which includes the epkowa backend, the README states

    This software is primarily covered by the terms of the GNU General
    Public License (version 2 or later) with exceptions that allow for
    the use of several non-free plugins.
    The graphical user interface, iscan, carries an exception to allow
    linking with the non-free 'esmod' library.  Copies of that library
    are included in the 'non-free/' directory and covered by the terms
    The device driver (backend) carries a similar exception to provide
    for the use of plugins.  Such plugins are packaged and distributed
    independently from this software and are only required for certain
    models and/or hardware options.

For imagescan-3.62.0, aka utsushi-0.62.0, which includes the utsushi
backend, the README says

    This software is distributed under the terms of the GNU General
    Public License, version 3 or at your option any later version.
    A copy of this license can be found in the 'COPYING' file.

The epsonscan2 software, which I only just found out about(!), has the
same blurb in its README.  Not sure if it includes a SANE backend.

What is true about binary-only is that some models and/or some of a
model's functionality needs a non-free plugin.  This is true for the
network support (but epson2 covers that quite well too, I believe) and
for those devices that need an interpreter.  The epkowa.desc files does
a pretty good job of identifying those.

# Sorry for the long follow-up, but while working on the first two, I
# actually lobbied a fair bit for keeping as much as possible of these
# drivers Free Software.  As a result, the epkowa backend now works
# without the plugins and the utsushi backend is GPL-3.0-or-later
# *without* exceptions.  All interfacing with non-free code is done at
# what the FSF calls "arm's length", via IPC/RPC.

Hope this helps,
Olaf Meeuwissen, LPIC-2            FSF Associate Member since 2004-01-27
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