Software for using a scanner with Linux is being driven by an effort called Scanner Access Now Easy (SANE). This effort hopes to standardize how device drivers for equipment such as scanners, digital still cameras, and digital video cameras are created, as well as help simplify the interfaces for applications that use those devices.
SANE is now included with the Red Hat Linux distribution. The sane-backend and sane-frontend packages are on CD #1, while the xsane and xsane-gimp packages are on CD #2. You can get the latest SANE driver packages from www.mostang.com/sane.
Someone wanting to use Linux as a publishing platform is generally interested in two issues about scanners: which scanners are supported and which applications are available to use the scanners. In general, more SCSI scanners are supported than parallel scanners.
Because of the ongoing development effort, new scanners are being supported all the time. You can find a current list of supported scanners at www.mostang.com/sane/sane-backends.html. As for applications, these are currently available with Red Hat Linux:
xsane — This is an X-based graphical front end for SANE scanners; xsane can work as a GIMP plug-in or as a separate application (from the Red Hat menu, select Graphics ? Scanning). It supports 8-bit output in JPG, TIFF, PNG, PostScript, and PNM formats. There is experimental 16-bit support for PNM (ASCII), PNG, and raw formats.
scanimage — This is a command-line interface for obtaining scanned images. It supports the same formats as xscanimage. The command acquires the scanned image, and then directs the data to standard output (so you can send it to a file or pipe it to another program).
Because of the architecture of SANE scanner drivers, it is possible to separate scanner drivers from scanner applications. This makes it possible to share scanners across a network.