Thursday, September 4, 2008


Programming a Flatbed Scanner

This is something that has been a bit of a thorn in my side for years. It all started when I bought a HP 4470C scanner and couldn't get it working on my Linux box. To make a long story short the programming specifications of the RealTek RTS8891 chip were kept secret so no one could easily write a driver for it, instead one would have to reverse-engineer it... a time consuming process only a true die-hard would tackle. The long still on-going story is here.

There is a driver for it which you can see here:

I've never got it to work which is a shame since it had a nice transparency adapter which was handy for scanning slides and negatives. What I ended up doing was backtracking to the HP 5200C. I still like HP scanners, at least the ones that use SCL or Scanner Control Language.

Although I can use kooka or xsane to do scanning with the 5200C I still wanted to try to program the scanner myself. I hereby place the SCL documentation on the net.

If you are currently looking for a scanner I'm sorry to say that HP doesn't make any scanners that support SCL, with the possible exception of MFPs or Multi-Function Peripherals. So if you're looking for a scanner and you want Linux compatibility I would suggest an Epson. Don't run out to the store and pick up the first scanner you see!


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