xsane for Canon LIDE-30 on an Intel Mac

My nice (hardware-wise) Canon LIDE-30 scanner has no Intel Mac drivers. Canon has decided they won’t support Intel Macs on this hardware because it’s too old to write new drivers for, even though they sold it since the Intel transition and fully support it under Vista.

There’s no notice of this on their website, so I spent an hour or so trying to run the current version (with modification dates well before the Intel announcement) and the Installer craps out. Some people on VersonTracker claims it works fine, but over at Macintouch there are people who’ve heard direct from Canon say it ain’t so. Perhaps some folks are confused about the CPU on their Mac.

Anyway, I’m more than happy to dump Canon for their poor support policies, but I haven’t yet found a bus-powered flatbed scanner other than the LIDE series (recommendations in comments welcome).

I tried VueScan, which seems to work, but the demo mode peppers the scan with so many $ signs as a watermark that I couldn’t really evaluate the scan quality. So I’d have to pay to evaluate it and it’s certainly not open source. I don’t do enough scanning for that bargain to be worthwhile.

Then I remembered using the SANE scanner program under linux a few year ago, so I fired up VMWare Fusion on my Mac and ran my Fedora VM, and tried xsane. It worked great. I used sshfs to copy the files back to the Mac filesystem, and thought I had a decent solution.

But wait – I also have fink installed on my Mac, which has ports of lots of unix software. So, under X11, I ran:

fink install xsane

and it asked me if I wanted to install the dependencies (ya, I want Cheesy Poofs) and after ten minutes it was done compiling.

So I ran xsane and it said, “hey, you’ve got no scanner (try running as root)”. So I said, sudo xsane, and it said, “hey, this will melt your computer and cause flooding and plagues, but you’ve got LIDE-30”. Actually it just opened up a warning note and a stack of windows, but one of them said LIDE-30 in the menubar. If anybody knows how to access the USB device as a regular user, please leave a comment. This issue also prevents Scan Again from working, I think – try it if you don’t have this problem.

Now, there are two things you can do – scan in 16-bit and get the best image size – and have almost nothing be able to understand it, or scan in 8-bit and have everything understand it. I’m doing FAX’es here, not photos, so 8-bit is what I wanted. Change the bit depth to 8-bit:

Now, I want my stuff to work in Preview. Preview has trouble with all kinds of file formats that work under Linux tools, but for now we’ll adjust xsane to make a TIFF type that Preview can understand. Check the boxes to reduce to 8-bit and change the 8-bit image compression to ‘pack bits’.

Now, the xsane interface is a bit non-intuitive. In the preview window, grab the selection box to set the scan area. On the main screen, set the resolution next to the dotty-looking icon. It’s ‘200’ in this image:

Now, change to mode to ‘Save’, the color depth you need, the file type to ‘TIFF’, and click ‘Scan’ (you can preview first if you need to crop). Now go look for your out.tiff file in the directory where you launched xsane, and use it as you want.

Note: under the Linux version you’ll get a PDF save type and also have the ability to do a multiple-document batch. However, Preview strikes again, so you’ll have to post-process the pdf with:

pdf2ps inputfile.pdf - | ps2pdf - finalfilename.pdf

so Preview can understand it. If Adobe Reader is good enough you don’t have to convert it.