If you are one of those that depends upon a scanner for your daily work, and you want to handle this task using the Linux operating system, you are in luck.
In the past, Linux has had some serious issues with scanning tools. When USB scanners replaced the old parallel port scanners it seemed nothing would work. But, as usual, Linux caught up and USB scanner support started appearing. Now many scanners are supported under Linux and the tools available for scanning have improved greatly. The improvements in scanner support have been made possible by the Sane Project.
The first thing you will want to do is check the Sane supported scanner listing on the Sane Project site. But don't let your scanner not being on that list stop you. My Epson Perfection V30 was not on the list and I still managed to get it working with the help of iscan. The iscan package is a simple scanning tool for Epson scanners. You can find the iscan tool within Synaptic. The iscan tool also integrates perfectly into The GIMP, so all your image needs can be met within one tool. But iscan is not the only option. There is also the Xsane tool, which is far more powerful than iscan. Let's take a look at both of these scanning utilities to see how scanning is handled under the Linux operating system.
NOTE: This article is not going to cover getting your scanner to work under Linux. If your scanner is not listed in the Sane hardware listing, your best bet is to google your model numer and your distribution. For example, in my case I would google epson perfection v30 ubuntu 9.10. You should come up with results that will tell you what approximate drivers to use to get your scanner working.
We'll first look at iscan. This tool is, by far, the easier of the two tools to use. And, like its bigger brother XSane, it integrates perfectly with The GIMP. That doesn't mean you have to use iscan from within The GIMP. Once installed you will find iscan within the Graphics sub menu of the Applications menu. The entry will be called "Image Scan!" (No quotes). Or, if you'd rather, you can start iscan from within The Gimp by going to the File menu, then to the Create sub menu, and selecting the "Scanning (iscan)" entry. Both will start the iscan interface.
When you fire up iscan you will notice how simple the interface is (see Figure 1). This scanner utility is just as easy to use as any Windows or Mac utility. The only configuration option for iscan is your print command. That is how simple this tool is.
With your picture in your scanner hit the Preview button to first get a preview of your image. Once the image is up you can then select the portion of the image you want to scan, select the Destination (either file or printer), and click the Scan button. When you click the Scan button you will be asked to give the file a name. The scanner will then do it's job and save the file for you. It's that simple.
XSane can be found in your distributions repositories. So whether you use Ubuntu or Fedoar (or anything in between), you should be able to open up your distributions Add/Remove Software tool and find XSane easily. XSane, like iscan, is a graphical frontend for the Sane project. But XSane is a bit more serious of a tool. You can see (in Figure 2) there is much more to XSane than your average scanning tool. In Figure 2 you see the standard windows that open along with the Main window. Pictured are the Main windows (far left), Preview window (center), Standard Options window (top right), and Histogram (lower right). You can also include an Advanced Options window, and a Batch Scan window.
But even with all of the extra options, acquiring a scan with XSane is just as simple as with iscan. Follow these directions:
When the scan is complete a new window will open that allows you to further adjust your image. In this window you can apply a despeckle or blur filter, adjust the geometry, rotate the image, clone image, do optical character recognition, and save the image.
And what about the Histogram window? This window allows you to fine-tune the color of your image. You use this tool after you preview and before you scan. You will be suprised at how well you can perfect the color of your scans with this tool.
For my preferences, I lean toward XSane to handle my scanning tasks. But iscan does the job quite well. Either tool will allow you to take advantage of that flatbed scanner you have in your office while using Linux. One less excuse to continue using Windows. ;-)
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