Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Installing a Scanner

One of the nice things about being on a college campus is that you can occasionally get involved in marketing ploys promotions designed to hook you on a particular product let you know about certain nearly obsolete products.

Case in point, the Canon PIXMIA MP470 Multifunction Printer, which retails for around $100, and which the Duke Bookstore had on sale for $20. That's right, one Andy Jackson. Plus $4 for the USB2 cable.

It's not a industrial scale printer, and it's probably not a great printer for sending out lots of photos, since it's a two tank (one black, one cyan-magenta-yellow) system. But I need a printer here in North Carolina, and for $20 ...

Naturally, there were problems:

First, I couldn't get the thing to work. Something about the ink tanks not being detected by the printer. Canon technical support was fantastic (no, I am Not Making This Up). They responded to my emails within a few hours. First they sent replacement ink tanks, then they sent a replacement printer, and a UPS shipping label to return the old one. (Obviously they have learned the lesson of King Camp Gillette, who noted that it doesn't matter how much they pay for the razor, as long as they keep buying the blades. They want me to keep using this printer through lots of ink tanks.)

The new printer worked fine, with the supplied drivers, under Windows and on the Mac. Of course, that left Linux, drivers not supplied.

Fortunately we have CUPS, the Common Unix Printing System. The version of CUPS supplied with Ubuntu doesn't have a native driver for the MP470, but it does have one for the MP150, and that works. (The driver for the MP610 prints blank pages. I didn't try any of the others.)

But Wait! The MP470 isn't just a printer, it's a copier, and it's a scanner!!!! (Not, unfortunately, a dessert topping.) The scanner works fine, again with the supplied software, under Windows and on the Mac, but, again, what about Linux?

Naturally, there's software, from the SANE Project, but the version supplied with Ubuntu, 1.0.19, doesn't include the MP470. The newest version, 1.1.0, does, but it doesn't seem that it will be included in the next Ubuntu release, Intrepid (8.10).

So we're left with getting the source code for 1.1.0, and compiling it. I've done this kind of thing many times before, of course, but Nicolas has complete directions. The only change necessary for me was that I had no entry for a scanner under /etc/udev/rules.d/, so I just made one:

sudo cp tools/udev/libsane.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/71-libsane.rules

where 71 was not one of the numbers already in use in the rules.d directory. After installing the software, I had to give myself permission to use a scanner (System => Administration => Users and Groups => Properties => User Privileges) and I had to reboot – just restarting the USB services didn't work.

So now I have a scanner, as well as a printer and copier:

Scanner Test Image

Not to mention the extra tanks of Ink Canon sent me. For $24, + tax.


rcjhawk said...

Upon further review:

I should have noted that to operate the scanner you can use the command

scanimage > image.pnm

from the command line. The file image.pnm can then be manipulated with a program such as display, and saved in the format of your choice.

There is also front-end software like xsane, which I've yet to try.