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Ubuntu Linux, Day 26: Connecting Peripherals

Today I check out how well Ubuntu Linux works with my printer, scanner, and webcam

What good is a PC if you can't print, or scan, or if your webcam doesn't work. When any new OS comes along, the compatibility of hardware and peripherals can make or break the perception and success of that OS--just ask Windows Vista. So, for today's 30 Days With Ubuntu Linux post, I'm going to take a look at connecting some devices.

Granted, day 26--more than three weeks into the process, and with only four days to go--seems awfully late in the game to be just getting around to basic hardware setup. For most people, verifying that things like printers, scanners, and webcams work would be a day one, or at worst day two project when adopting a new OS.

In my defense, I don't use these peripherals very often. Once Ubuntu worked with my keyboard, mouse, graphics card, monitor, and wireless network, I was pretty well set. But, I do own a printer, and a scanner, and a webcam, and I do use them occasionally, so I would appreciate it if they would work.

I started off with my scanner. I have an Epson Perfection 3490 Photo. I connected it...but I didn't notice anything happen. I was hoping for something to pop up and let me know that the scanner was detected, etc. Nada.

I went to the Ubuntu Software Center and typed Epson, but that didn't seem to come up with anything useful. Apparently, the Ubuntu Software Center isn't necessarily the place to shop for device drivers. I turned to Google and did a search for 'installing Epson Perfection 3490 Photo on Ubuntu 11.04'. I got a lot of results, but most of them seemed like intimidating gibberish.

After sifting through many responses, I finally stumbled on one comment that said something to the effect that it should just work. It seemed worth a shot, but I also didn't have the Epson scanning utility that would normally install with it in Windows, so I needed to figure out some other way to test it. I went into Gimp, but a cursory glance didn't uncover any option to scan. Then, I discovered that Ubuntu Linux has a scanning utility installed by default--Simple Scan.

I fired up Simple Scan, placed a magazine on the scanner, and hit 'scan'. A few seconds later, the scanner whirred to life, and lo and behold my image appeared on the screen. Scanner set up--check.

Next, I connected my webcam--a Logitech Webcam Pro 9000. Again, there didn't seem to be anything overtly obvious to alert me to whether or not Ubuntu Linux detected or installed the webcam. I checked with Google again, and again I found a reference stating that it should just work. The comment recommended using a tool called Cheese to test it.

Cheese--or Cheese Webcam Booth--is not installed by default with Ubuntu Linux, but it is available in the Ubuntu Software Center. I installed it, fired it up, and voila! The webcam works like a charm.

Then it was on to the printer. I have a variety of them, but I chose to connect an HP Deskjet 2400 color inkjet. This time, I actually did see a pop-up box stating that the printer had been detected and that Ubuntu Linux was connecting and configuring it for use.

I opened up LibreOffice Writer, opened up one of my previous posts I have written, and clicked print. Out popped my document from my HP DeskJet 2400--simple as can be.

In a nutshell, adding devices in Ubuntu Linux worked like a charm...even when it didn't necessarily seem like it. Ubuntu does a good job of detecting your hardware, and seems to have pretty comprehensive driver support. You just need to find some software or something to check it out and verify that it is working.

Read the last "30 Days" Series: 30 Days with Google Docs

Day 25: Tracking Personal Finances

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