Thought you'd like an update on progress (or lack of it!).
I managed to get the web page translated just in case I missed something important, copied the script into ~/usr/bin, made executable... didn't work for me!
On your recommendation I removed the -l parameter on line 78 - no change; put it back - no change; removed all the options in Xsane>preferences>OCR tab (-i -o -x) - no change; put them back - no change!
Couple of points that may account for this I'd like to run by you...
1) according to the translation, in Xsane "Save" mode window > Save as filetype... they suggest "text" and yet by all accounts ocr has to be in TIFF format (.tif). So, is this right?
2) Xsane will only produce an output when "full colour mode" is selected for me. Greyscale and black & white (lineart) just produces a jet black image. This is in all Xsane modes. Research would indicate that I'm stuck with this one due to the Sane hp3900 back-end (my scanner's an HP 3970). I don't know if this matters or not.
So what does it do? Well, I got error logs (xsane2tess.log) when I scanned in grey or lineart with messages like it didn't recognize the image file, no error logs with colour. As an output ocr'd txt file the result was a blank document.
Reading the script would suggest that there should be some user interface while the process is running (echo lines). There was no indication of any ocr activity... I don't know if this is normal or not. I thought as it worked for you, you could comment on what I should be seeing.
A bit more research and I've found a replacement perl script for xsane2tess as there seems to be a common problem in trying to get the script to work. I'll have another go tonight and report back in the morning.
Thanks for your help