Economy Size Geek - Adventures in Scanning
Like many geeks, I dream of a paperless office. I don't know when that phrase first came into use, but a quick scan around both my home and work office convinced me it's still a long way off. To add insult to injury, the fax machine as a means of business communication seems to be a zombie technology that refuses to die. All too often when I deal with businesses, they cheerfully tell me to fax something to a number they provide. That is all well and good, but because I made the switch to VoIP (Voice over IP), which does not support faxing, I am forced to make trips to the local Kinko's more than I would like to admit. Time has moved on, and a number of businesses now will accept a PDF file with scanned versions of the documents. This fills me with both joy and terror. I'm happy I don't have to find a landline with a fax machine, but I'm terrified of scanning under Linux. I haven't done it in a very long time (years), mostly because my experience was so bad and frustrating, I resolved to leave it as one of those things I cannot do under Linux.
You already may have a scanner lying around, but I didn't. I searched the Internet where all roads led to the SANE (Scanner Access Now Easy) Web site, so that's where I started. SANE is the main clearing house for information related to scanners and scanning. It has a big list of devices that shows how well they are supported, but the list is less helpful than it looks, primarily because it focuses on listing all the scanners that are known to work, including many that are no longer manufactured. I spent a lot of time trying to find a scanner that was both on the list and available from Amazon.com. I then found the best path was to go to the Ubuntu forums and search for recommended scanners. If you use another distribution, check its forum or assume that if it works for Ubuntu, it will work with any other modern distribution (although that's not always a safe bet). My main criteria were size (smaller the better), USB (is there another interface now?) and cheap (less than $100).
After some searching, I found recommendations for the Epson v300 and the Epson v500. On Amazon.com, the v300 was available for $89, and the v500 was $165. I am sure the v500 is awesome, but given that I mainly wanted to use it for documents, I didn't think I needed to pay double. I was a little confused because the scanner is called a photo scanner, but the dimensions showed that it could scan a full sheet of standard letter paper. It even has a hinge so you can scan from a book.
I hooked up the scanner to the computer. I'm not sure what I expected to happen, but nothing did. I realized I needed something actually to use the scanner. It turns out that the word scanner means security scanner a lot more often than image scanner. This made locating software a little more difficult. I found out that I already had packages for sane and xsane installed. xsane is the graphical front end to the SANE library, and it gives you a GUI to control your scanner. Because it was already installed, I started with xsane. Right off the bat, I hit a problem. By default, xsane connected to /dev/video0, which is my Webcam.
After a little more research, I ended up at Avasys. It provides drivers and a software utility for talking to my new scanner. I had to download a 64-bit deb for iscap and esci-interpreter. I clicked on Image Scan! for Linux, and the program told me it wasn't able to talk to the scanner. I was beginning to have flashbacks to the last time I tried using a scanner. Remaining calm, I power-cycled the scanner and tried the application again. This time, it started up without complaint. I was able to click Scan, and a scan of a book cover showed up. I was able to scan to several different file types: TIFF, JPEG, PNM, PNG and PDF. I was a little disappointed that the PDF option didn't allow me to store more than a single page in the file.
As a bonus, the driver package I installed fixed the problem with xsane. Now when it starts, it gives me the option to choose my Webcam (weird) or my scanner. This also solves the problem of not being able to scan multiple pages into a single PDF, because xsane has that feature. The key is to change xsane into multipage mode before I start scanning. This allowed me to scan several pages and save them as a single PDF.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide