Linux has a reputation for being more trouble to get working with add-on hardware than Windows, and that’s not entirely undeserved, but there are some times when Linux and open-source really wins out. One case in point from today: the old HP 4200C scanner we have kicking around the office. It’s an old USB scanner from the days of Windows 98, and while it still works perfectly well, it’s been long retired at the office due to being a total pain to get running — HP’s latest drivers barely work on XP, let alone Vista or Windows 7.
Under Linux, though, it was the colloquial piece of piss to get running. In fact, it was literally plug-and-play — I plugged it in, fired up The GIMP, went to the scanner option (under the File/Create/XSane menu), and it Just Worked. Ubuntu installs the SANE suite of scanner drivers and tools by default, and despite its age, the 4200C driver still works perfectly. That means that I now have my own scanner at the office, which will be perfect for all the times that I need to print, sign, scan, and email forms.