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Scanner's firmware HOWTO and suggestions for improving user's experience with scanners

Some scanners need a firmawre file who, while it cannot be provided by 
Fedora can be legally downloaded from the manufacturer's site.  The
problem is that Fedora provides zero hints about it.  

I have an EPSON USB scanner (snapscan driver) and if you look at the
sane-backends doc it says _nothing_ about firmware and it points to a
web page who hasn't been updated in _eight_ years.  In other words
official documentation is zero help.

In the following I detail what to do and make a few suggestions for
improving user experience with scanners requiring firmware.

Go to http://avasys.jp/english and  grab the two RPMS proposed.
Their names are respectively iscan and iscan-plugin-something.
Iscan is a nice frontend and is GPL but it requires the non GPL
iscan-plugin who is the one who contains the firmware.  Iscan-plugin's 
licence can be summarized by free to copy and to give but 
not free to disassemble or sell

Don't bother with the source in tgz format since it it doesn't
provide the firmware.

If you are running in 32 bits and you have nothing against having a
non free piece of software in your box then install both RPMS:
if you try to run xsane, this will probe the epson driver first who will
load the  firmware.  With a loaded formware sane's driver will also
work so xsane will ask the user which driver he want to use.
If you Iscan instead that is Epson's GPL frontend, it will ever use
epson's driver, but it is easier to use and offers both higher and lower
resolutions than xsane.

If you are running in 64 bits you can do as above but you will not be
able to run xsane (epson doesn't provide 64 bits version of its
software) only iscan will work (I also strongly recommend you erase
the /etc/sane.d/epkowa.conf otherwise sane will try to load the 32 bit

In case you re religious about free sowftware or, you are running in 64
bits and prefer to scan from xsane or gimp then:
Install both RPMs mentionned above
mkdir /usr/share/sane/snapscan
Copy the .bin file who is under /usr/share/iscan to /usr/share/snapscan/
Edit the /etc/sane.d/snapscan.conf and change the firmware line so it
points to the file you have just copied
Eventually uninstall both iscan and iscan-plugin rpms


In completely ideal world fedora would procide the firmware files and
everything would just work but I guess Epson's licensing (copy, give,
don't disassemble, don't sell) is a NO-NO 

If Fedora can't provide the formware then perhaps we could provide that
ewhen sane fails to drive a scanner its error message points to firmware
and towards a file  telling the above.

A less ambitious proposition would be:
-to include the above text in sane's doc
-Modify the /etc/sane.d/snapscan.conf so it points the user to the
file in the preceeding alinea
-the directory /usr/share/sane/snapscan should be part of the xsane
-The firmware line in /etc/sane.d/snapscan.conf should not point towards
your-firmware-file.bin in the /etc/share/sane.d/snapcan but towards
snapscan.bin and, when user powers on the scan it would be udev's work
to make a snapcan.bin sumbolic link pointing towards the right firmware


JF Martinez

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