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Looking for Barcode vendors, that work with Linux

© April 2005 Bruce Garlock

Author: bruceg

I have evaluated, and discussed two different bar coding solutions for our warehouses, with two companies, and both have a Windows 2k server requirment, with MS SQL server for the db backend.

I have always used the right tool for the job, and I cannot seem to google any vendors that have linux based bar coding solutions. Basically, we want to be able to tell the barcode scanner to ask the user: "What is the code #", "What is the weight?", "What location?" etc, and have this drive a MySQL db, or possibly, our Informix db on SCO.

Although the software looks capable, I was wondering if anyone has seen anything with Linux in this market. It seems very saturated with Windows products, and looks like a good place to have Linux poke it's head into. I really do not want to have to install a Windows server, just to collect data from bar code readers.

I also do not have the time to code this myself. If someone knows of a company that would provide Linux based software that can do this, or could offer a quotation for this, please let me know, since I need to finish this project in a couple of months, and I am gathering info on various companies right now.


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-> Looking for Barcode vendors, that work with Linux


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Tue Apr 5 22:21:04 2005: 277   TonyLawrence

The ones I've seen in the past just had simple serial interfaces so it was easy to dump the data to a file or a program. As I remember (this goes back quite a few years), the programming was simple enough on the unit itself.

Modern ones come tcp based too - basically hand-held terminals - I know I have a client down south somewhere using this kind of scanner with Linux.. I'll ask her what they are..

Wed Apr 6 01:00:36 2005: 278   bruceg2004

Thanks, Tony. I really do not want to spend a lot of money on this. I have one quote for almost $40k to simply count inventory! I am waiting for another quote, and I know the HW is somewhat expensive, but they were quoting like $7k for the base software price, then like $550 per user.

I am not asking for this system to do much. I need to be able to program the reader to display certain prompts, have the user then scan, and once the transaction is complete, store it in the reader. Then, we can use a network based cradle, to upload to the server, and db.

I wonder how much it would cost to have someone custom program this for us.


Wed Apr 6 12:32:14 2005: 280   TonyLawrence

In my experience, the programming is easy - really nothing that you probably couldn't do yourself.

There's two styles to consider here (or used to be anyway). The first units I ever saw were programmed with a very simple byte-code type language - you could write it in a text editor and then upload it to the unit to do the kind of "Type in your station number" "Now swipe the bar code" "How many do you count?" type of thing. Then yopu'd bring it back, hook it up to a serial port and tell it to dump, and of course that was easy to read and process with anything - I'd mostly use Perl.

Now, I've also seen these units that are tcp based and are effectively just little terminals - interfacing those to Linux is of course a snap because they are acting like telnet terminals.

You may be surprised: this is all probably much easier than you think it is.

Wed Apr 6 17:14:58 2005: 283   bruceg2004

So, why then would we get a quote for almost $40k? I am sure we will go with a network based version of the reader/handheld. Like I said, I really do not have the time to sit down and program a full blow application, that logs everything to a db, so we can then interface with our ERP system. There seems to be a lot of Windows only solutions, and I cannot find anyone that does this in the Linux/Unix world, so those shops must have custom programmed their devices, I would assume.

I am going to visit one Vendor, to see the equipment and software in action, and I will be able to get a better idea of the guts of this stuff, but without anything to use, I am blind right now, and need to speak with someone who has experience with this kind of thing.

Take a shop like Home Depot, for example, they use Linux on the backend, and at the POS stations at the registers. I am user they must have used someone or had someone come in to program their barcode readers to interface with their db. I am just trying to find out who they used, or who can program this stuff, to get another idea of how much this will cost us.

This project is actually getting hotter by the day, since we have people typing the wrong thing in all the time now, and our corrections are getting higher and higher, and barcoding would certainly take care of that issue.

Tony: Did you hear back from your contact that is using this with Linux right now?


Wed Apr 6 19:52:12 2005: 284   TonyLawrence

I haven't heard back from her yet, but a google for "linux barcode scanner" turned up quite a bit..

Wed Apr 6 20:47:32 2005: 286   TonyLawrence

She says:

We use HHP handheld units that are wireless and interact with our programs
on the unix box. We use Symbol scanners at POS (LS6004-1000) and we use
various smaller symbol and percon (some with decoders) units in shipping,
receiving, etc. Please let me know if you need more detailed info.

Wed Apr 6 23:11:58 2005: 287   bruceg2004

I did google that, and while there is a lot, not much I found to be useful. Numerous links are for the cue::cat, and I found one program, Unibar, and that is nowhere near what I am looking for.

What I need, is a program that can help me program the barcode reader, to display what I want, and then another program to collect the data from the reader. I have not found anything like that using google, and I have tried a lot of different key words. If you do it for Windows, they have everything that would run a "Mom and Pop Shop" to Manufacturing based barcode software.

I just don't have the time to play around with this right now. As the guy in charge of IT for 10 buildings now, I have to schedule in bathroom breaks :-) I hate to go the Windows route, but we may have to because of time, unless I can find something equally as good for linux. A few of the Windows versions we have evaluated even have the option to purchase the source code, so that is comforting, but I would much rather not have to muck with another Win2K machine if I can.

If you find anything, or come across anything, please post a link, but much of the stuff I found, was not much help.

If your contact has more info on what program they are running to collect the data from the readers, this is what I am interested in.


Fri Apr 8 19:36:58 2005: 305   anonymous

We use portable readers with SCO/LINUX servers. This OS isn't an issue. The data is fed to our programs via RS232 and the program doesn't know anything about where it comes from. The units are easy to program, with prompts etc. The company is great. Anybody that answers the phone can perform tech support on the spot (or take your order!). We've been using them for years and very happy. If nothing else, you could call them and get some more information. I know they do wireless and they know a ton about barcode things. Worthdata.com from Santa Cruz, CA.

Fri May 13 15:56:16 2005: 499   anonymous

Has anybody found any kinds of reader solutions that are integrated with Linux that read Data Matrix? I'm really interested in seeing why Linux isn't in this field since it really is dominated by Windows and yet it would seem perfectly suited to the kinds of things that Linux would be perfect for.

Wed May 17 18:04:59 2006: 2030   anonymous

> Has anybody found any kinds of reader solutions that are integrated with
> Linux that read Data Matrix?

I know of a couple open source projects on Linux that deal with Data Matrix. They are:

iec16002 project - Data Matrix Encoder

libdmtx project - Data Matrix Encoder/Decoder

libdmtx isn't quite ready for enterprise yet (disclaimer: I'm the maintainer of this one), but if you want to talk about it I'm happy to expedite specific features if they are important to you. The project is under active development.



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