man sane (Conventions) - Scanner Access Now Easy: API for accessing scanners


sane - Scanner Access Now Easy: API for accessing scanners


SANE is an application programming interface (API) that provides standardized access to any raster image scanner hardware. The standardized interface makes it possible to write just one driver for each scanner device instead of one driver for each scanner and application.

While SANE is primarily targeted at a UNIX environment, the standard has been carefully designed to make it possible to implement the API on virtually any hardware or operating system.

This manual page provides a summary of the information available about SANE.

If you have trouble getting your scanner detected, read the PROBLEMS section.


An application that uses the SANE interface is called a SANE frontend. A driver that implements the SANE interface is called a SANE backend. A meta backend provides some means to manage one or more other backends.


The package `sane-backends' contains a lot of backends, documentation (including the SANE standard), networking support, and the command line frontend `scanimage'. The frontends `xscanimage', `xcam', and `scanadf' are included in the package `sane-frontends'. Both packages can be downloaded from the SANE homepage ( Information about other frontends and backends can also be found on the SANE homepage.


The following sections provide short descriptions and links to more information about several aspects of SANE. A name with a number in parenthesis (e.g. `sane-dll(5)') points to a manual page. In this case `man 5 sane-dll' will display the page. Entries like `/usr/share/doc/libsane/sane.tex' are references to text files that were copied to the SANE documentation directory (/usr/share/doc/libsane/) during installation. Everything else is a URL to a resource on the web.

SANE homepage
Information on all aspects of SANE including a tutorial and a link to the SANE FAQ can be found on the SANE homepage:
SANE device lists
The SANE device lists contain information about the status of SANE support for a specific device. If your scanner is not listed there (either supported or unsupported), please contact us. See section HOW CAN YOU HELP SANE for details. There are lists for specific releases of SANE, for the current development version and a search engine: The lists are also installed on your system at /usr/share/doc/libsane/.
SANE mailing list
There is a mailing list for the purpose of discussing the SANE standard and its implementations: sane-devel. Despite its name, the list is not only intended for developers, but also for users. There are also some more lists for special topics, however, for users, sane-devel is the right list. How to subscribe and unsubscribe:
SANE IRC channel
The IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channel #sane can be found on the Freenode network ( It's for discussing SANE problems, talking about development and general SANE related chatting. Before asking for help, please read the other documentation mentioned in this manual page. The channel's topic is also used for announcements of problems with SANE infrastructure (mailing lists, web server, etc.).
Compiling and installing SANE
Look at /usr/share/doc/libsane/README and the os-dependent README files for information about compiling and installing SANE.
SCSI configuration
For information about various systems and SCSI controllers see sane-scsi(5).
USB configuration
For information about USB configuration see sane-usb(5).


Command-line frontend. See scanimage(1).
SANE network daemon that allows remote clients to access image acquisition devices available on the local host. See saned(8).
Command-line tool to find SCSI and USB scanners and determine their Unix device files. See sane-find-scanner(1).

Also, have a look at the sane-frontends package (including xscanimage, xcam, and scanadf) and the frontend information page at


The SANE backend for Abaton flatbed scanners supports the Scan 300/GS (8bit, 256 levels of gray) and the Scan 300/S (black and white, untested). See sane-abaton(5) for details.
This backend supports AGFA Focus scanners and the Siemens S9036 (untested). See sane-agfafocus(5) for details.
The SANE backend for Apple flatbed scanners supports the following scanners: AppleScanner, OneScanner and ColorOneScanner. See sane-apple(5) for details.
The SANE Artec backend supports several Artec/Ultima SCSI flatbed scanners as well as the BlackWidow BW4800SP and the Plustek 19200S. See sane-artec(5) for details.
The SANE artec_eplus48u backend supports the scanner Artec E+ 48U and re-badged models like Tevion MD 9693, Medion MD 9693, Medion MD 9705 and Trust Easy Webscan 19200. See sane-artec_eplus48u(5) for details.
This is a SANE backend for using the Artec AS6E parallel port interface scanner. See sane-as6e(5) for details.
This backend supports several Avision based scanners. This includes the original Avision scanners (like AV 630, AV 620, ...) as well as the HP ScanJet 53xx and 74xx series, Fujitsu ScanPartner, some Mitsubishi and Minolta film-scanners. See sane-avision(5) for details.
The bh backend provides access to Bell+Howell Copiscan II series document scanners. See sane-bh(5) for details.
The canon backend supports the CanoScan 300, CanoScan 600, and CanoScan 2700F SCSI flatbed scanners. See sane-canon(5) for details.
The canon630u backend supports the CanoScan 630u and 636u USB scanners. See sane-canon630u(5) for details.
The canon_pp backend supports the CanoScan FB330P, FB630P, N340P and N640P parallel port scanners. See sane-canon_pp(5) for details.
This is a SANE backend for Nikon Coolscan film-scanners. See sane-coolscan(5) for details.
This is a SANE backend for Nikon Coolscan film-scanners. See sane-coolscan2(5) or for details.
The SANE epson backend provides support for Epson SCSI, parallel port and USB flatbed scanners. See sane-epson(5) for details.
The fujitsu backend provides support for Fujitsu 3091, 3093, 3096 and fi-4340 SCSI scanners. See sane-fujitsu(5) for details.
The genesys backend provides support for scanners based on the Genesys Logic GL646 and GL841 chips like the Medion 6471 and Hewlett-Packard 2300c. Support for GL841 based scanners is far from being complete. See sane-genesys(5) for details.
The gt68xx backend provides support for scanners based on the Grandtech GT-6801 and GT-6816 chips like the Artec Ultima 2000 and several Mustek BearPaw CU and TA models. Some Genius, Lexmark, Medion, Packard Bell, Plustek, and Trust scanners are also supported. See sane-gt68xx(5) for details.
The SANE hp backend provides access to Hewlett-Packard ScanJet scanners which support SCL (Scanner Control Language by HP). See sane-hp(5) for details.
The SANE backend for the Hewlett-Packard ScanJet 5S scanner. See sane-hpsj5s(5) for details.
The SANE backend for the Hewlett-Packard ScanJet 4200 series. See sane-hp4200(5) for details.
The SANE backend for the Hewlett-Packard ScanJet 54XXC series. See sane-hp5400(5) for details.
The SANE backend for some IBM and Ricoh SCSI scanners. See sane-ibm(5) for details.
This backend supports the Leo S3 and the Across FS-1130, which is a re-badged LEO FS-1130 scanner. See sane-leo(5) for details.
This backend supports the Lexmark X1100 series of USB scanners. See sane-lexmark(5) for details.
The ma1509 backend supports the Mustek BearPaw 1200F USB flatbed scanner. See sane-ma1509(5) for details.
This backend supports some Panasonic KVSS high speed scanners. See sane-matsushita(5) for details.
The microtek backend provides access to the "second generation" Microtek scanners with SCSI-1 command set. See sane-microtek(5) for details.
The microtek2 backend provides access to some Microtek scanners with a SCSI-2 command set. See sane-microtek2(5) for details.
The SANE mustek backend supports most Mustek SCSI flatbed scanners including the Paragon and ScanExpress series and the 600 II N and 600 II EP (non-SCSI). Some Trust scanners are also supported. See sane-mustek(5) for details.
The mustek_pp backend provides access to Mustek parallel port flatbed scanners. See sane-mustek_pp(5) for details.
The mustek_usb backend provides access to some Mustek ScanExpress USB flatbed scanners. See sane-mustek_usb(5) for details.
The mustek_usb2 backend provides access to scanners using the SQ113 chipset like the Mustek BearPaw 2448 TA Pro USB flatbed scanner. See sane-mustek_usb2(5) for details.
The SANE nec backend supports the NEC PC-IN500/4C SCSI scanner. See sane-nec(5) for details.
The niash backend supports the Agfa Snapscan Touch and the HP ScanJet 3300c, 3400c, and 4300c USB flatbed scanners. See sane-niash(5) for details.
The pie backend provides access to Pacific Image Electronics (PIE) and Devcom SCSI flatbed scanners. See sane-pie(5) for details.
The SANE plustek backend supports USB flatbed scanners that use the National Semiconductor LM983[1/2/3]-chipset aka Merlin. Scanners using this LM983x chips include some models from Plustek, KYE/Genius, Hewlett-Packard, Mustek, Umax, Epson, and Canon. See sane-plustek(5) for details.
The SANE plustek_pp backend supports Plustek parallel port flatbed scanners. Scanners using the Plustek ASIC P96001, P96003, P98001 and P98003 include some models from Plustek, KYE/Genius, Primax. See sane-plustek_pp(5) for details.
The ricoh backend provides access to the following Ricoh flatbed scanners: IS50 and IS60. See sane-ricoh(5) for details.
The s9036 backend provides access to Siemens 9036 flatbed scanners. See sane-s9036(5) for details.
The sceptre backend provides access to the Sceptre S1200 flatbed scanner. See sane-sceptre(5) for details.
The SANE sharp backend supports Sharp SCSI scanners. See sane-sharp(5) for details.
The SANE sm3600 backend supports the Microtek ScanMaker 3600 USB scanner. See sane-sm3600(5) for details.
The SANE sm3840 backend suppoert the Microtek ScanMaker 3840 USB scanner. See sane-sm3840(5) for details.
The snapscan backend supports AGFA SnapScan flatbed scanners. See sane-snapscan(5) for details.
This backend supports the Fujitsu FCPA ScanPartner 15C flatbed scanner. See sane-sp15c(5) for details.
The sane-st400 backend provides access to Siemens ST400 and ST800. See sane-st400(5) for details.
The SANE tamarack backend supports Tamarack Artiscan flatbed scanners. See sane-tamarack(5) for details.
teco1 teco2 teco3
The SANE teco1, teco2 and teco3 backends support some TECO scanners, usually sold under the Relisys, Trust, Primax, Piotech, Dextra names. See sane-teco1(5), sane-teco2(5) and sane-teco3(5) for details.
The sane-u12 backend provides USB flatbed scanners based on Plustek's ASIC 98003 (parallel-port ASIC) and a GeneSys Logics' USB-parport bridge chip like the Plustek OpticPro U(T)12. See sane-u12(5) for details.
The sane-umax backend provides access to several UMAX-SCSI-scanners and some Linotype Hell SCSI-scanners. See sane-umax(5) for details.
The sane-umax_pp backend provides access to Umax parallel port flatbed scanners and the HP 3200C. See sane-umax_pp(5) for details.
The sane-umax1220u backend supports the UMAX Astra 1220U (USB) flatbed scanner (and also the UMAX Astra 2000U, sort of). See sane-umax1220u(5) for details.

Also, have a look at the backend information page at and the list of projects in /usr/share/doc/libsane/PROJECTS.


Backend for Kodak DC210 Digital Camera. See sane-dc210(5).
Backend for Kodak DC240 Digital Camera. See sane-dc240(5).
Backend for Kodak DC20/DC25 Digital Cameras. See sane-dc25(5).
Backend for the Polaroid Digital Microscope Camera. See sane-dmc(5).
Backend for digital cameras supported by the gphoto2 library package. (See for more information and a list of supported cameras.) Gphoto2 supports over 140 different camera models. However, please note that more development and testing is needed before all of these cameras will be supported by SANE backend. See sane-gphoto2(5).
Backend for Connectix QuickCam cameras. See sane-qcam(5).

Also, have a look at the backend information page at and the list of projects in /usr/share/doc/libsane/PROJECTS.


The sane-dll library implements a SANE backend that provides access to an arbitrary number of other SANE backends by dynamic loading. See sane-dll(5).
The SANE network daemon saned provides access to scanners located on different computers in connection with the net backend. See sane-net(5) and saned(8).
PNM image reader pseudo-backend. The purpose of this backend is primarily to aid in debugging of SANE frontends. See sane-pnm(5).
Backend for scanners that use the PINT (Pint Is Not Twain) device driver. The PINT driver is being actively developed on the OpenBSD platform, and has been ported to a few other *nix-like operating systems. See sane-pint(5).
The SANE test backend is for testing frontends and the SANE installation. It provides test pictures and various test options. See sane-test(5).
The sane-v4l library implements a SANE backend that provides generic access to video cameras and similar equipment using the V4L (Video for Linux) API. See sane-v4l(5).

Also, have a look at the backend information page at and the list of projects in /usr/share/doc/libsane/PROJECTS.


By default, all SANE backends (drivers) are loaded dynamically by the sane-dll meta backend. If you have any questions about the dynamic loading, read sane-dll(5). SANE frontend can also be linked to other backends directly by copying or linking a backend to in /usr/lib/sane.


It's not hard to write a SANE backend. It can take some time, however. You should have basic knowledge of C and enough patience to work through the documentation and find out how your scanner works. Appended is a list of some documents that help to write backends and frontends.

The SANE standard defines the application programming interface (API) that is used to communicate between frontends and backends. It can be found at /usr/share/doc/libsane/ (if latex is installed on your system) and on the SANE website: (HTML), or (Postscript).

There is some more information for programmers in /usr/share/doc/libsane/backend-writing.txt. Most of the internal SANE routines (sanei) are documented using doxygen: Before a new backend or frontend project is started, have a look at /usr/share/doc/libsane/PROJECTS for projects that are planned or not yet included into the SANE distribution and at our bug-tracking system: http://www.

There are some links on how to find out about the protocol of a scanner:

If you start writing a backend or frontend or any other part of SANE, please contact the sane-devel mailing list for coordination so the same work isn't done twice.


The backend configuration files.
The static libraries implementing the backends.
The shared libraries implementing the backends (present on systems that support dynamic loading).
SANE documentation: The standard, READMEs, text files for backends etc.


If your device isn't found but you know that it is supported, make sure that it is detected by your operating system. For SCSI and USB scanners, use the sane-find-scanner tool (see sane-find-scanner(1) for details). It prints one line for each scanner it has detected and some comments (#). If sane-find-scanner finds your scanner only as root but not as normal user, the permissions for the device files are not adjusted correctly. If the scanner isn't found at all, the operating system hasn't detected it and may need some help. Depending on the type of your scanner, read sane-usb(5) or sane-scsi(5). If your scanner (or other device) is not connected over the SCSI bus or USB, read the backend's manual page for details on how to set it up.

Now your scanner is detected by the operating system but not by SANE? Try scanimage -L. If the scanner is not found, check that the backend's name is mentioned in /etc/sane.d/dll.conf. Some backends are commented out by default. Remove the comment sign for your backend in this case. Also some backends aren't compiled at all if one of their prerequisites are missing. Examples include dc210, dc240, canon_pp, hpsj5s, gphoto2, pint, qcam, v4l, net, sm3600, snapscan, pnm. If you need one of these backends and they aren't available, read the build instructions in the README file and the individual manual pages of the backends.

Another reason for not being detected by scanimage -L may be a missing or wrong configuration in the backend's configuration file. While SANE tries to automatically find most scanners, some can't be setup correctly without the intervention of the administrator. Also on some operating systems auto-detection may not work. Check the backend's manual page for details.

If your scanner is still not found, try setting the various environment variables that are available to assist in debugging. The environment variables are documented in the relevant manual pages. For example, to get the maximum amount of debug information when testing a Mustek SCSI scanner, set environment variables SANE_DEBUG_DLL, SANE_DEBUG_MUSTEK, and SANE_DEBUG_SANEI_SCSI to 128 and then invoke scanimage -L . The debug messages for the dll backend tell if the mustek backend was found and loaded at all. The mustek messages explain what the mustek backend is doing while the SCSI debugging shows the low level handling. If you can't find out what's going on by checking the messages carefully, contact the sane-devel mailing list for help (see REPORTING BUGS below).

Now that your scanner is found by scanimage -L, try to do a scan: scanimage >image.pnm. This command starts a scan for the default scanner with default settings. All the available options are listed by running scanimage --help. If scanning aborts with an error message, turn on debugging as mentioned above. Maybe the configuration file needs some tuning, e.g. to setup the path to a firmware that is needed by some scanners. See the backend's manual page for details. If you can't find out what's wrong, contact sane-devel.

To check that the SANE libraries are installed correctly you can use the test backend, even if you don't have a scanner or other SANE device:

scanimage -d test -T

You should get a list of PASSed tests. You can do the same with your backend by changing "test" to your backend's name.

So now scanning with scanimage works and you want to use one of the graphical frontends like xsane, xscanimage, or quiteinsane but those frontends don't detect your scanner? One reason may be that you installed two versions of SANE. E.g. the version that was installed by your distribution in /usr and one you installed from source in /usr/local/. Make sure that only one version is installed. Another possible reason is, that your system's dynamic loader can't find the SANE libraries. For Linux, make sure that /etc/ contains /usr/local/lib and does not contain /usr/local/lib/sane. See also the documentation of the frontends.


We appreciate any help we can get. Please have a look at our web page about contributing to SANE:


For reporting bugs or requesting new features, please use our bug-tracking system: You can also contact the author of your backend directly. Usually the email address can be found in the /usr/share/doc/libsane/AUTHORS file or the backend's manpage. For general discussion about SANE, please use the SANE mailing list sane-devel (see for details).



David Mosberger-Tang and many many more (see /usr/share/doc/libsane/AUTHORS for details). This man page was written by Henning Meier-Geinitz. Quite a lot of text was taken from the SANE standard, several man pages, and README files.