Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Brother MFC-L2710DW Printer / Scanner and Linux

I needed a new scanner, my old HP PSC-1510 finally broke..
I wanted a multi-function device with ethernet, non-color laser printer with duplex printing and a scanner with ADF. For ease of use, I wanted a "scan to network drive" and "scan to email" capable device, so that my users at home can easily help themselves without me having to scan every document for them.

The Brother MFC-L2710DW seemed to fit the bill pretty well.
Only after having it all set up, I found out that the "Scan to email" only works with a Windows PC, and apparently only with the device connected via usb, by somehow firing up Outlook to send the mail, and the "scan to network drive" also seems to work the same way.

The next thing I found out is, that the printer works with CUPS, but you need a binary only driver from Brother (at least if you follow all the HOWTOs on the internet) and the scanner unit also seemed to need a binary only sane backend. Not much more and I would have almost immediately put up the device on ebay just to get rid of it as fast as possible.

But then I noticed that the thing is AirPrint and AirScan capable and I found out that no MacOS drivers were included...

Long story short: AirScan is some http based protocol (named eSCL) for basic scanning. With some curl magic you can scan (from standard glass or ADF) to either (at least) JPEG or PDF. When scanning from ADF, you even get a multi-page PDF directly. There is an "escl" backend in latest SANE (but not in Leap 15.2). However, this did not work well for me. Then I found the excellent "sane-airscan" project on github which works fine, and which serves both as a working SANE backend and as a good documentation on the protocol, which I used to write a standalone tool "simple-airscan" in python, which I'll probably put into a small simple webfrontend, so that my users can help theirselves with their scanning needs.

Ok, scanning works. What about printing?
Airprint has some "driverless" mode, which I was unable to configure with YaST, but it was easy to configure after I enabled the CUPS web frontend. This works without any ugly brother binary only drivers and prints just fine.

So now both the scanner and the printer work just fine without any brother software ;-)

https://github.com/seife/airscan-simple - my simple python scanning tool.
https://github.com/alexpevzner/sane-airscan - the excellent sane-airscan backend for SANE.
https://wiki.debian.org/CUPSDriverlessPrinting - the debian wiki has extensive information on driverless printing

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