Sunday, April 26, 2015

Linux to the rescue (yet again!)

Don't you just love how LINUX can breath new life into that piece of old computer hardware that you almost threw away?

I have in my possession an old GENIUS COLORPAGE-VIVID 1200 XE flat-bed scanner (snappy name, eh kids?). I've had it for donkeys years – indeed, I originally used it with WINDOWS 98 and then, only later, on XP - and it once provided sterling service to the graphics industry. It's still a fine bit of kit, as you will see if you read the bumph on the box…

Long story short: With WINDOWS XP no longer a going concern, the scanner sat abandoned in a corner. I spent many a long afternoon failing to get it to work with WINDOWS 7. I've tried all sorts of cunning ploys, attempting to trick the software into complying by running various versions of the drivers and installers in 'compatibility' mode. But No Can Do. If you haven't realised this already, M!¢r0$ØfT stuff is not that backwards-compatible.

However, as soon as I went down the LINUX road, I hit the proverbial paydirt! One morning, I searched the web forums for handy hints on how to get this beast to run on an Ubuntu-based setup. With some downloaded drivers and a bit of crafty terminal bashing and file copying, I was able to get the scanner working again in little more than half-an-hour, with a graphical front-end to boot (ha!). Feeling kinda smug and a little relieved… Hoorah for Linux once again!

Installing a Genius ColorPage-Vivid 1200XE scanner on Linux Mint (Ubuntu 14.04)

You will probably already have the SANE package installed as part of your Linux setup. In a very broad sense, SANE is to Linux as TWAIN is to Windows. But if you've never hooked up a scanner before, you probably won't know if it's there or not. An easy way to check is to plug the scanner into a USB port and then, in a terminal, type:-

sudo sane-find-scanner

If SANE is indeed on your system, it will go through a search routine and report whether there are any scanners connected. You should see that it has "found USB scanner (vendor=0x0bda [generic] product=0x0129 [usb2.0-crw])", or nonsense to that effect, along with a load of other stuff about parallel and SCSI ports which you're not interested in here! Now type in:-

sudo scanimage -L

...and it should tell you that "device 'gt68xx:libusb:005:005' is a Genius Vivid 1200 XE flatbed scanner". Which, of course, it is. So far, so good. Linux has recognised your scanner.

Now you want to install the graphical 'front end' for SANE, a programme called, hardly surprisingly, XSANE. It's right there in all your favourite repositories, so simply type:-

sudo apt-get install xsane

Once it has finished installing, you'd think you'd be ready to start scanning… but not quite! You will probably find that, when you click on the programme's icon, it will tell you that it can't find something!

You need to locate a small firmware file named 'ccd569.fw'. This tiny little 8 KB binary file is required by the XSANE scanning package to correctly communicate with the scanner. The file can be found somewhere on the CD-ROM that came with the scanner. I'm not sure where exactly. Better still, just download it here

Navigate to this folder:- /usr/share/sane/

You will see a new 'xsane' folder already there, containing all the vitals for your scanner interface. Alongside this, you need to create another new folder called 'gt68xx'

Now then, because '/usr/share/sane/' is a system folder, you will have to get 'permission' to do anything within it! Go back to the good old terminal, assume administrative rights (su) and type in the following, to 'change ownership' of the folder:-

chown -v your_user_name_here /usr/share/sane/

You will now be able to create the new folder 'gt68xx'. If you exit the terminal at this point, you may have to repeat the process to give yourself access rights to '/usr/share/sane/gt68xx'… because next you want to copy that little 'ccd569.fw' file into the new folder.

That one little 8 KB bit of firmware makes all the difference!

This time, when you click on its icon, the XSANE graphical front end will open its various windows, with the name of your scanner proudly displayed on the menu bars. You can start tweaking its settings to suit your own scanning needs. I mainly use it for black and white line drawings, but this baby is capable of some pretty good 'hi-rez' colour scans. I found that, on my own lappy, there's a little bit of a delay before it starts scanning or previewing (possibly depends on the resolution settings?), and you might have to remind the programme to re-park the scanner head after it has finished its job… but it does seem to work to the full extent of its abilities.

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