I'm considering purchasing a new USB flatbed scanner for my parents whose laptop is running Ubuntu (10.04 LTS - Lucid Lynx).

Doing a quick search around I found this thread over in the forums: Lightweight Scanner and it seems:

  • Generally I should check the SANE project to see if a specific scanner will work under Linux.
  • EPSON distributes its own Linux drivers by Avasys
  • HP seems to have good Linux support: hplip is already installed with Ubuntu (although for me here it seems that the version with Ubuntu 10.04 isn't the newest one and could need some fiddling when I buy a new HP printer)

What other factors need I take into account when buying a scanner for Ubuntu? Anything specific to some applications (GIMP, etc.)? Will the now-typical scanner buttons to directly scan a PDF document work on some printers and not on others? Etc.


I have jet to find a scanner, that Ubuntu has no drivers for. Most scanners use a standardised USB interface similar to other hid devices such as keyboards, mice etc. If you want to be on the safe side choose a scanner mentioned in the SANE project's supported devices list.

As for applications: SANE handles scanners in Ubuntu. They all revert to SANE. You'll be fine.

  • Thanks! ... "SANE handels scanners in Ubuntu." ... will the proprietary Epson drivers also refer to SANE? – Martin Aug 3 '11 at 12:12
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    I do have a scanner that doesn't have a Ubuntu driver (or at least didn't three years ago when I replaced it). Personally, I have found HP has some of the best Linux support, so I stick with them. – jwernerny Aug 3 '11 at 12:37
  • I also like hp very much. @Martin: Normally Ubuntu should take care of picking the right driver. If not, follow the instructions that come with the proprietary dirver. – con-f-use Aug 3 '11 at 13:20
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    Yes, Epson scanners (at least V350 model) refer to SANE. Avasys drivers for Epson devices actually install the SANE support files for them. – Vincenzo Aug 3 '11 at 16:13

I have had good luck with HP printer/scanners. My current one, HP Photosmart C4750, works well in Ubuntu. It is connected through WIFI and scans to PDF using hplip. I have used HP flatbed USB with success, also. Follow this link hplip for additional information. You can install the hplip and hplip-gui through Synaptic. The one odd thing is the hplip-gui is not linked in the application menu but in System > Preference. Besides scanning hplip will status the device and give info on ink and such. The GUI is easy to use.

hplip has been around for years.

  • It's mostly OK for inkjets, but I personally had many strange incompatibilities with old Laserjet 1005 using HPLIP. It installs PPD file, seems like Ubuntu is connecting to HP 1005, yet nothing happens when I try to print from LibreOffice or eVince. – Vincenzo Aug 3 '11 at 16:16
  • I've had zero problems. If the printer works well in Ubuntu before it will work well with hplip. – peck Aug 3 '11 at 23:18
  • Yes, I managed to configure my HP1005 in 10.10 very easily, but at this moment I see something strange with HP1005 (it doesn't print, but when I recconect HP1005 to my laptop, it starts printing). I suppose that it may be an issue of HPLIP version or a matter of HPLIP standalone installation (downloaded from HPLIP site). – Vincenzo Aug 4 '11 at 9:01

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