While scanner support for Linux is still a bit spotty, support for digital cameras is significantly better. Linux supports over 800 cameras through the gPhoto2 digital camera software package, which comes bundled with your system. What gPhoto2 essentially consists of is a collection of drivers that works in the background to tell your computer how to communicate with your camera. To see if your camera is supported, go to the gPhoto2 website (www.gphoto.org), scroll down, and click 800 cameras (the number may actually be higher when you check). On that page you will find a complete list of all the cameras supported by gPhoto2. If your camera isn't on the list, it most likely means (as the page points out) that your camera is so old that there is little demand for support for it or that it is so new that there hasn't been enough time to develop support for it. Of course, gPhoto2 is constantly being updated, so if your camera isn't on the list now, it could be in the near future. Updating gPhoto2 with Synaptic now and again should keep you as up to date as possible.
If your camera is not supported by gPhoto2, all is not lost. First of all, there are some cameras that utilize what is called the USB Mass Storage protocol. These cameras function, without the help of gPhoto2, as USB storage devices, just like a thumb drive or USB external hard disk. You can access the photos on such cameras just as you would data on any other USB storage device—just connect it to your computer, and a Nautilus window appears displaying its contents. You can then transfer files via conventional drag-and-drop procedures.
Even if your camera doesn't seem to communicate with your computer by either of these means, you can still get your images to your hard disk by removing the memory card from your camera, inserting it into a USB flash memory card reader, and plugging that reader into one of your computer's USB ports. Once you've done that, your system will mount the card reader as if it were an external drive (which is pretty much what it is), thus allowing you to use simple drag-and-drop procedures to get the images to your hard disk. Of course, you can use this method even if your camera is supported by gPhoto2 or compliant with the USB Mass Storage protocol—sometimes it is the easiest way to deal with things anyway.
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Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.