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SANE (Scanner Access Now Easy) provides a library and a command-line tool to use scanners under GNU/Linux. Here you can check if sane supports your scanner.


Install the sane package.


Now you can try to see if sane recognizes your scanner

$ scanimage -L

If that fails, run the command again as root to check for permission problems. If that fails as well, check that your scanner is plugged into the computer. You also might have to unplug/plug your scanner for /etc/udev/rules.d/sane.rules to recognize your scanner.

Now you can see if it actually works

$ scanimage --format=png > test.png

If the scanning fails with the message scanimage: sane_start: Invalid argument you may need to specify the device.

$ scanimage -L
device `v4l:/dev/video0' is a Noname Video WebCam virtual device
device `pixma:04A91749_247936' is a CANON Canon PIXMA MG5200 multi-function peripheral

Then you would need to run

$ scanimage --device "pixma:04A91749_247936" --format=tiff > test.tiff

Sane provides many special backend options for numerous scanner types. To see what these are for your device:

$ scanimage -A

Installing a scanner driver

Most scanners should work out of the box. If yours does not, see SANE/Scanner-specific problems for installation instructions.


Note: This section is only needed if you need to upload firmware to your scanner.

Firmwares usually have the .bin extension.

Firstly you need to put the firmware someplace safe, it is recommended to put it in a subdirectory of /usr/share/sane.

Then you need to tell sane where the firmware is:

  • Find the name of the backend for your scanner from the sane supported devices list.
  • Open the file /etc/sane.d/<backend-name>.conf.
  • Make sure the firmware entry is uncommented and let the file-path point to where you put the firmware file for your scanner. Be sure that members of the group scanner can access the /etc/sane.d/<backend-name>.conf file.

If the backend of your scanner is not part of the sane package (such as hpaio.conf which is part of hplip), you need to uncomment the relevant entry in /etc/sane.d/dll.conf.

Install a frontend

Many frontends exist for SANE, a non-exhaustive list of which can be found on the sane-project website. Another way to find them is to use pacman to search the repositories for keywords such as "sane" or "scanner".

  • gscan2pdf — A GTK2-based GUI to produce PDFs, TIFFs or DjVus from scanned documents. It is also able to apply OCR in the process using different engines. || gscan2pdfAUR
  • Simple Scan — A simplified GUI that is intended to be easier to use and better integrated into the GNOME desktop than XSane. It was initially written for Ubuntu and is maintained by Robert Ancell of Canonical Ltd. for GNU/Linux. || simple-scan
  • Skanlite — A simple image scanning application that does nothing more than scan and save images, based on the KSane backend. || skanlite
  • XSane — A full-featured GTK-based frontend looking a bit old but providing extended functionalities. || xsane
Note: Scanning directly to PDF using XSane in 16bit color depth mode is known to produces corrupted files and a note in pacman output warns so. 8bit mode is known to work.

Network scanning

Sharing your scanner over a network

You can share your scanner with other hosts on your network who use sane, xsane or xsane-enabled Gimp. To set up the server, first indicate which hosts on your network are allowed access.

Change the /etc/sane.d/saned.conf file to your liking, for example:

# required
# allow local subnet

If you use iptables, insert the nf_conntrack_sane module to let the firewall track saned connections.

Now start/enable saned.socket using systemd. Your scanner is now available over the network. For more information, see saned(8).

Accessing your scanner from a remote workstation

Note: Some network scanners require a different approach. See SANE/Scanner-specific problems.

You can access your network-enabled scanner from a remote Arch Linux workstation.

First, specify the server's host name or IP address in the /etc/sane.d/net.conf file:

# static IP address
# or host name

Now test your workstation's connection:

$ scanimage -L

The network scanner should now also show up in any front-end.


See also: SANE/Scanner-specific problems

Invalid argument

If you get an "Invalid argument" error with xsane or another sane front-end, this could be caused by one of the following reasons:

Missing firmware file

No firmware file was provided for the used scanner (see #Firmware for details).

Wrong firmware file permissions

The permissions for the used firmware file are wrong. Correct them using

# chown root:scanner /usr/share/sane/SCANNER_MODEL/FIRMWARE_FILE
# chmod ug+r /usr/share/sane/SCANNER_MODEL/FIRMWARE_FILE

Multiple backends claim scanner

It may happen, that multiple backends support (or pretend to support) your scanner, and sane chooses one that does not do after all (the scanner will not be displayed by scanimage -L then). This has happend with older Epson scanners and the epson2 resp. epson backends. In this case, the solution is to comment out the unwanted backend in /etc/sane.d/dll.conf. In the Epson case, that would be to change




It may also be possible that the independant iscan epkowa backend interferes with your snapscan backend (epson scanners). You may get this error right after using the scanimage -L command. Starting the scanner app (like xsane) twice can also solve the problem. Otherwise check your /etc/sane.d/epkowa.conf for wrong configuations or remove the iscan package.

Communication via xHCI not working (older scanner models)

Some older scanner models do not work when connected via an USB3 port. If you experience this issue, try setting the SANE_USB_WORKAROUND=1 environment variable before starting your frontend.[1][2]

If that doesn't work, try one of the following workarounds:

  • Use an USB2 port instead of an USB3 port, if available.
  • Disable xHCI via BIOS/EFI. eHCI will consequently be used and communication with the scanner will work. On the downside, USB3 speed can not be reached on any port.
  • On (some) intel chipsets the 'setpci' command can be used to route specific usb ports to either the xHCI or the eHCI controller. See Here and Here (scroll down to where it says "setpci") for further information. With this it is possible to toggle single USB ports with a simple shell script.
  • Connect the scanner over the network instead if it is supported.

Slow startup

If you encounter slow startup issue (e.g. xsane or scanimage -L take a lot to find scanner) it may be that more than one driver supporting it is available.

Have a look at /etc/sane.d/dll.conf and try commenting out one (e.g. you may have epson, epson2 and epkowa enabled at the same time, try leaving only epson or epkowa uncommented)

You can also try to comment out "net" driver, if there are no network scanners.

Your webcam might also be listed as scanning device and slow down detection at startup. To blacklist webcam, try commenting out all the lines in /etc/sane.d/v4l.conf.

Device busy

Tango-inaccurate.pngThe factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.Tango-inaccurate.png

Reason: The user should not need to be in the scanner group (see Users and groups#Pre-systemd groups) (Discuss in Talk:SANE#)

If your USB device is listed with scanimage -L but launching the test scanimage pixma:04A9173E_11DAD1 --format=tiff > test.tiff always return the 'Device busy' error, you might try to add your username to the scanner group usermod -a -G scanner yourusername then blacklist the usblp kernel module by writing blacklist usblp in /etc/modprobe.d/no-usblp.conf (it prevents usblp from loading to support scanning, not needed by either CUPS or xsane and related tools). Reboot to finish. [3]

Permission problem

After systemd, the scanner and lp groups are deprecated. No need to add your user to those groups. See Users and groups#Pre-systemd groups for detail.

You can also try to change permissions of usb device but this is not recommended, a better solution is to fix the Udev rules so that your scanner is recognized.

First check connected usb devices with lsusb:

Bus 006 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 003 Device 003: ID 04d9:1603 Holtek Semiconductor, Inc. 
Bus 003 Device 002: ID 04fc:0538 Sunplus Technology Co., Ltd 
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 03f0:2504 Hewlett-Packard 
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 046d:0802 Logitech, Inc. Webcam C200
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

In our example we see the scanner: Bus 001 Device 006: ID 03f0:2504 Hewlett-Packard. Here 03f0 is the vendorID and 2504 is the productID.

Now open /usr/lib/udev/rules.d/49-sane.rules and see if there is there is a line with the vendorID and productID of your scanner. If there is not any, create the new file /etc/udev/rules.d/49-sane-missing-scanner.rules, with the following contents:

ATTRS{idVendor}=="vendorID", ATTRS{idProduct}=="productID", MODE="0664", GROUP="scanner", ENV{libsane_matched}="yes"

Save the file, plug out and back in your scanner and the file permissions should be now correct.

Tango-inaccurate.pngThe factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.Tango-inaccurate.png

Reason: The scanner needs to be added to the right backend file, hp4200.conf will not work for any scanner. (Discuss in Talk:SANE#)

Another tip, is that you can add your device (scanner) in backend file:

Add usb 0x03f0 0x2504 to /etc/sane.d/hp4200.conf so it looks like this:

# Configuration file for the hp4200 backend
# HP4200
#usb 0x03f0 0x0105
usb 0x03f0 0x2504