Title photo
frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Tue, 27 Sep 2011

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion supports some older HP scanners, but not the one I'm trying to get working; Apple rant follows

Long story short, I'm setting up a shiny, new iMac with OS X 10.7 (aka Lion) for my graphic artist mother whose 2003-era G5 decided to die catastrophically and quickly.

Once I figured out the ancient SpeedStream modem's PPPoE issues with her formerly SBC, currently AT&T DSL connection, got her Ethernet-equipped HP LaserJet 4000n printer on the same network as the iMac (once I figured out the printer's IP address through printer-top button-pressing voodoo), all that remained was bringing the HP Scanjet 6300c scanner to life.

It shows up in the detailed view of "About this Mac." But no software is automatically downloaded (that's how OS X 10.7 configures printers and scanners, apparently, and it dealt with the LaserJet 4000n that way).

The USB-connected scanner appears to be dead. To OS X 10.7 anyway. Today I learned that the list of HP Scanjet products "supported" in OS X 10.7 is a short one:

HP Scanjet Digital / Document Flatbed Scanners

HP Scanjet 2400 Digital Flatbed Scanner HP Scanjet 5590 Digital Flatbed Scanner series HP Scanjet 7650 Document Flatbed Scanner HP Scanjet 7650n Networked Document Flatbed HP Scanjet 8200c Scanner series (8200c, 8250, and 8290) HP Scanjet 8270 Scanner series HP Scanjet 8300 Digital Flatbed Scanner HP Scanjet 8350 Document Flatbed Scanner HP Scanjet 8390 Document Flatbed Scanner HP Scanjet G2410 Flatbed Scanner

HP Scanjet Photo / Photosmart Scanners

HP Scanjet 3800 Photo Scanner HP Scanjet 4070 Photosmart Scanner series HP Scanjet 4370 Photo Scanner HP Scanjet 4850 Photo Scanner HP Scanjet 4890 Photo Scanner HP Scanjet 5530 Photosmart Scanner series HP Scanjet G2710 Photo Scanner HP Scanjet G3010 Photo Scanner HP Scanjet G3110 Photo Scanner HP Scanjet G4010 Photo Scanner HP Scanjet G4050 Photo Scanner HP Scanjet N6310 Flatbed Scanner

The 6300 isn't included in this rarefied list.

Ponder and let it sink in:

A USB scanner by leading vendor HP DOES NOT WORK IN OS X 10.7 LION.

Yeah, the scanner wasn't purchased this year. Or last. But it's not a total dinosaur. It uses USB, not SCSI, for the love of all things sacred. It should work. It worked in OS X 10.4. It doesn't appear to work in OS X 10.6, or 10.5 either, but I can hardly believe that.

I know the SANE project might work (but probably not). But I really don't want to go down that road with a newly minted Mac.

HP is content to let this hardware die in recent versions of Mac OS X?

I probably won't fight this any more. I'll look for a new scanner. Probably an Epson like I use with Windows and Linux (though to be fair the Epson scanner didn't work out of the box in Linux; I needed to find and add software, with which it now works great).

I find this troubling. Just as I find the built-in, premature obsolescence of Apple hardware and software maddening.

I know a 7-year-old computer is stretching the bounds of what many find acceptable. Apple ditched PowerPC and hasn't released an OS for it since 10.5. even Firefox isn't releasing builds for PowerPC. Adobe isn't building the Flash Player for PowerPC any more.

Bitch about Windows and the PC architecture all you want, but if you build your own PC and the motherboard goes dead (as happened with the G5), you can buy a new motherboard and CPU for a couple hundred bucks (and probably the memory to go with it at an additional to ) and pretty much keep on going. And you can run the OS that Microsoft released in 2001, or the one they are pushing now (Windows 7).

Or you can run Linux (or BSD) and have a fully patched OS with thousands of free applications ready to be installed over the network (none of which, except for the flash-plugin in Linux, have the name "Adobe" in front of them, and I do realize this is very important to a great many people who depend on these apps to get work done).

My mom wanted a Mac. She's comfortable with it. She's willing to pay the substantial extra money required to buy an iMac, even though it's barely more repairable than a laptop (and just as upgradable, which is not very much). She's OK buying all new software because everything she used on her PowerPC G5 won't run on her new Intel Mac.

I wouldn't be so OK with that.

My mother's case is somewhat specialized. She does graphic design for print, needs all that CMYK/Pantone/other-stuff-I-don't-fully-understand, and she's comfortable with Adobe InDesign and Illustrator and is willing to pay for it.

Right here, right now, I can't see myself recommending Apple over Windows to an Adobe CS user. I'm sure there are situations in which Apple hardware and software do these tasks better, but there are no doubt many others (and probably more) in which Windows excels (truthfully no pun intended).

If bleeding money is something you would rather not do, and if raw performance and upgradability are important, and you rely on Adobe applications, go for a high-end Windows machine.

And if you think somehow the fact that an HP scanner with USB that looks to be made in 2003 won't work with OS X 10.5-10.7 without some kind of voodoo is OK, you're wrong. It's not OK.