Using the Epson Perfection 1640SU scanner with Red Hat Linux 7.0 and USB
-- with SANE

Essential Links: SANE Homepage | XSane | Free Color Management | Karl Heinz Kremer | Linux USB

Well, everyone said USB support wasn't available for kernel 2.2.16 but Red Hat 7.0 seems to have built-in some basic functionality. Believe me, it was good enough for this scanner to work even though this scanner is not officially supported by Red Hat! At first, I was frustrated that my Epson Perfection 1640SU scanner (with transparency adapter for scanning slides and film negatives) did not seem to work with the generic Red Hat GIMP-xscanimage plugin. And SANE was a bit of a misnomer because at first, I felt anything but sane while trying to make it work. Happily, with some help from AE Lawrence (who wrote this handy tutorial) and some other helpful souls on the Linux-USB mailing list, I did not even have to upgrade my kernel!

First, the Necessary Downloads......

First make sure you have the latest SANE back-end packages as well as any front-end software you may need, or you can download and use XSane instead. Then you need to download special configuration packages for your scanner type. Check here for back-end downloads and verify your scanner compatibility with the latest Sane driver version. For me, obviously I used the Epson back-end.

You should ideally read the Sane Documentation carefully. If you're lazy like me, the Sane Tutorial is adequate!

Getting your System Ready

Now for the fun stuff (not). Firstly, become root. Switch to the /dev directory in your Linux system and add this new device file - if you are using Red Hat 7.0 out of the box you probably won't have usbscanner0 but check to make sure the file doesn't already exist before doing this!

cd dev
mknod usbscanner0 180,48
chmod a+rw usbscanner0

Now check to make sure the usbscanner0 file is there. Yep? OK, carry on....

Now run: lsmod. You may need to be in /sbin. You should see something like this:

 

If not, then:
insmod scanner vendor="0x04a9" product="0x010b"

Get these magic numbers for your scanner here, they are unique for every vendor and scanner model.
For the Perfection 1640SU, the command is: insmod scanner vendor="0x04b8" product="0x010a"

modprobe scanner

When you lsmod again you should see something like this:

 

If you have the usbview program, and your scanner is connected and switched on, you should be able to see the scanner listed among the active USB devices. Alternatively, try:
scanimage -L

You should see something like:

 

Now go to your Epson backend and edit the /etc/sane.d/modules.conf file.

 

Make sure this highlighted line is not commented out, and comment out all other lines (e.g the scsi line etc.).

You can choose either to use xscanimage which is a plug-in for GIMP (it cannot be run as a standalone) or download xsane and run it. XSane is pretty basic and adequate for most scanning purposes, although my version for scanning slides and negatives left a lot to be desired. For negative scanning, a lot of colour adjustments and manipulation were needed after the scan to get anything vaguely resembling the original, and as for slides, Sane at the time did not seem to support 42-bit scanning, and the colour depth was not at all great. Alas, for slide/negative scanning I resorted to using my partner's Win2000 laptop which produced sharper and more colour-accurate scans. So much for being Windoze-free!

Thoughts on Scanner
This is not a scanner review, and I'm sure by now the 1640 has been superseded by newer and shinier Epson models, but for the money, the 1640SU with the transparency adapter was for me, a half decent and cheap way to get into slide scanning. This is only if you're not interested in getting good prints from your scans! Otherwise it's really quite adequate for web/email imaging purposes. Of course if you're pickier (like me) and have money to burn, you will definitely have to look into getting a dedicated film scanner.
Ken Rockwell's review of the 1640SU

Disclaimer
When I wrote this I was using Sane xxx. By now some of my complaints about bit-depth, sharpness etc. might no longer apply. You can also use Vuescan to use the Epson Perfection 1640SU scanner but don't ask me how to set that up as I have no experience doing so!

Thanks to...
I am indebted to Adrian Lawrence, Karl Heinz Kramer, Oliver Rauch and Jean-Luc (Coulon?) for helping me to get this up and running.

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