User:Woozle/HP 4370

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I purchased the unit on 2006-02-14 to replace Harena's old AcerScan 620UT, which is still working as I write but which had developed some annoying streaks in the scanned image, making it unsuitable for high-quality scanning of photographs.


I ordered from Newegg, which seemed to have the best price by about $5 (I had considered getting it from a local Office Depot, OfficeMax, or Best Buy, but where the model was available in general it was never in stock in my local store); they delivered it in 2 days (which is apparently an internal goal of NewEgg's, though not a guarantee). The box seemed somewhat battered on the outside (photo available; will upload when I have time) and rattled a bit, but there was no evidence of damage to the scanner. It was in fact the scanner doing most of the rattling, which leads me to wonder if something was supposed to be clamped down – but the instructions show no evidence of any shipping restraints to remove.


There was an awkward pause when I noticed that the scanner's power adapter is a three-prong wall wart, which meant that I didn't have any free sockets into which it could be inserted. One plug-bar later (my count is now four plug bars), I had it powered up and hooked to a USB cable.


When I first tried to use this scanner with Linux in February 2006, the driver was only partly working and not useable (the scan head responded appropriately, but the image returned was all dark pixels). Since that time (November now), the driver has been fixed so it is usable if not perfect. Scanning under Linux is considerably more efficient than under Windows, as the TWAIN driver has a very awkward user interface which insists on doing a preview before each new scan, and responds very slowly to any changes.

Linux Driver

The Easy Way (2006nov)

The HP3900 driver is now available in easy-to-install package form for several distros. The driver also now works usably, although the cropping is off and you generally have to scan the whole page and crop afterwards (note that this is true to some degree with the official factory-supplied Windows 98 drivers as well). The SANE library is also available in most distros and does not need to be installed by hand.

  • 2007-09-29 update: as of v0.9 of the HP3900 driver, the cropping seems to have been fixed. Also, there was some issue with the driver which ended up making it essentially unusable before this; can't remember what it was. What I had remembered (which is obviously wrong) was that the scans came in all-black. This must have been an earlier version of the driver.

The Hard Way (2006feb)

The driver archive (which downloads as a .tar.gz file) contained a README file (actually, two – one in English and one in Spanish) with detailed installation instructions. Here are the steps, summarized, with my results.

1. Find out where the SANE library files are installed by typing "locate sane|grep". I got this:


2. Copy these files into the located path:


The command "cp lib/* /usr/local/lib/sane/" is given as a way of doing this, but it assumes you have unzipped the .tar.gz file and have chdired to the root of the unzipped folder tree. I used konqueror to do the copying without actually unzipping the archive (had to load konqueror in root mode, though, in order to write to /usr/lib/sane/).

3. Create the following symbolic links (the following commands use my directory structure):

cd /usr/lib/sane
ln -s /usr/lib/sane/
ln -s /usr/lib/sane/

4. Now we have to inform SANE that a new backend is installed. To do that, we need to edit the dll.conf file; to do that, we need to find out where that file is located, which can be done by typing "locate dll.conf". I got the following results:


The first line (/etc/sane.d/dll.conf) would seem to be the one we're looking for, but if it's not as obvious in the results you get you can apply grep as was done earlier: "locate dll.conf|grep sane"

"/usr/local/etc/sane.d/" is apparently the default location, although "/etc/sane.d/" is also common.

5.Edit dll.conf and append the following line:


(The instructions note that lines beginning with "#" are comments, effectively disabling whatever driver is named on that line, so don't put a "#" before the "hp3900".) The drivers in my dll.conf were more or less sorted alphabetically, so I added "hp3900" right above "hp5400".

6. Copy conf/hp3900.conf (from the downloaded driver files) into the same folder as dll.conf (e.g. in my case, put it at /etc/sane.d/hp3900.conf).

After doing that, I ran "scanimage -L" again and this time got this:

device `hp3900:libusb:001:003' is a Hewlett-Packard HP39xx Flatbed Scanner flatbed scanner

Then I went back into GIMP File -> Acquire -> XSane -> Device Dialog..., which previously had reported "no scanner detected", and it happily loaded XSane and allowed me to do a preview – which came up all black, regardless of what was on the scan surface. Just as a test, I did a scan, and it came up all yellow with regular horizontal dashes down one side.

So either the driver isn't quite happy, or else the scanner itself is borken somehow. I guess I'll have to install it on Windows to find out if it's the software.


  • 2006-02-19 Apparently the developer is aware of the problem and is obtaining the data needed in order to fix it. :-)
  • 2006-11-24 The driver has now been updated (it could have been any time in the past few months); see "The Easy Way" above.

Windows Software

While waiting for the Linux driver to be updated, I went ahead and installed the Windows driver and software on my Win98 box. Although the scanner interface front-end was usable, there were a few minor annoyances... Sometimes when you load the front-end, it goes ahead and does a preview; other times, it shows a little "getting ready to scan" icon, which I assume means I have to wait – but in fact, nothing happens unless you press the "New Scan" (which most front-ends label as "Preview") button.

Other annoyances:

  • The button which most front-ends label "Scan" is called "Accept"
  • The resolution always defaults back to the resolution set somewhere else (probably Image Zone Express; see below)
  • Resizing the scan dialog doesn't resize the preview image

The setup program also installed "HP Image Zone Express", after reporting that it had reviewed my system configuration and determined that it didn't want to install the full-blown "HP Image Zone" (probably only available for WinXP or better). I haven't tried this software yet, since I usually use Microsoft Photo Editor and Jasc PaintShop Pro 8 for image editing.



The scanner appears broken now. At first I thought it was a system/software/driver problem, because it started right after I installed a USB snooper (in an attempt to perhaps help out with the Linux driver development) which did seem to have done some messy things with my system. After much uninstalling and reinstalling, and finally a reinstall of Win98, I was able to get about 2 more scans – and then it stopped working again. After another day or so of uninstalling, reinstalling, looking for diagnostic tools, etc., I finally tried installing it on another computer – where I had the same problem with it. (The problem is, basically, no preview or scanning of any kind, and the scanner seems to keep making "scanning" noises for quite a long time even though nothing is happening on the computer screen.)

One of the diagnostic help files on the HP CD says that when you unplug the USB and power cables and plug them back in, the scan head should move forward about an inch. It is not doing this, so I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it has died on me.

Next, I find out that Newegg won't accept returns for this particular unit: "This item is not eligible for an online RMA. If the product is warranted by the manufacturer, please contact them directly for more information."

HP's diagnostic information is inconsistent. One place, it says "During a successful self test, the scanner will do the following: ... The carriage will continuously move the full length of the scanning bed. After the carriage moves the full length of the scanning bed a couple of times, the scanning lamp will blink several times. The scanning lamp will stay lit and the carriage will continue to move." A few lines further down, highlighted in blue, it says "NOTE: There is no carriage self test for this scanner. The carriage does not move during the self test." (Also it shows the wrong icon for the "scan film" button, but that's understandable.)

So I ended up using their online chat option, and am now expecting a replacement scanner to arrive in 5-7 days (and a phone call tonight or tomorrow night to get my credit card number).


The new scanner arrived over a week ago; I finally got around to plugging it in a few days ago, and then finally got around to reading the return instructions last night. Apparently I have misplaced the return shipping label, or else they didn't send one.

To complicate things still further, near-disaster struck this morning. Due to what I shall euphemistically call "space constraints", I had put the scanner up high – about 7 feet off the floor. I was feeling a bit off this morning and obviously didn't check carefully enough that it was properly seated on the place I had put it, because when I started a scan preview there was suddenly this tremendous crash – "oh [censored], that's probably the scanner", I said – followed shortly by a dialog box informing me that the scanner didn't seem to be attached, and could I check the connection again. (It was rather like that moment in The Abyss when contact with the surface is abuptly cut off, and then the sonar radio comes to life with the message "We've lost the crane! And it's on its way down to you!!", only the crane had already landed.)

The scanner's glass was totally smashed. The things-into-which-the-screws-screw were also snapped off. I was afraid it was a total loss. I noticed, however, that all the broken bits were associated with the top part of the scanner body (the lighter-colored bit), and that everything else – including the base and the lid – looked ok. When plugged in, the scan light came on and the head advanced as it should.

So I cannibalized the top from the "dead" scanner, and put it on... and everything works fine... which speaks well for the ruggedness of the scanner's design. I admit to being faintly impressed. (Now, if they could only make the scanner window out of Transparent aluminum...)

I reassembled the "bad" scanner from what was left of the breakage, so that scanner is now missing a window, has hidden breakage of the screw mounts, and is missing 4 screws (because I kept them becuse they won't stay in). Out of all the possible options for dealing with returning it, I ultimately decided to merely ask HP about the return label, and not mention the damage; it should be obvious enough when they pull the scanner out of the plastic bag. Their online question form really didn't seem set up for return-service questions anyway; I'll probably just get back a message saying "for answers to your questions in this matter, please call 1-800-..."


I got back a message saying, in part:

In order to obtain the shipping address your best option would be to contact at the Phone Number given below as our HP Phone support would be glad to assist you in this matter.

HP Phone Support Number: 1-(800)-474-6836

If we can be of any further assistance to you then please revert to us. We look forward to assist you.

So I called HP, and (after much back-and-forthing with their wacky phone system, which I tried to record but was largely unsuccessful; the call lasted a little over 11 minutes, for the record), I was told that a new shipping label would be sent.

And then I went to repack the old scanner (which I had pulled out of the box yet again to double-check the serial number, because they couldn't find it – they were only able to find my case using the new scanner's serial number), I found something sticking out of one edge of the bottom of the box... yep, it was the shipping label.

Well, at least it wasn't my fault. I mean, I suppose I could have thought to look under the flaps...

So I'm going to enclose this thing in an envelope saying "found under cardboard flaps at bottom of box after I already requested a new one", and put that inside the box when I return the scanner. (Maybe I should also note "scanner glass was broken after I contacted HP about the scan-head malfunction", in case it made any difference.)