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Linux WebCam Software? 67

Posted by Cliff
from the come-in-to-my-parlor dept.
Who_Sez asks: "I'm interested in setting up a Linux based webcam, however the solutions I've been seeing are either very convoluted in execution, or the referring sites appear to be out of date. Can anyone recommend a webcam package that runs on Linux? I don't really care what distro is required but I'm familiar with Fedora, Yellow Dog, and Ubuntu. I guess I would be considered a 'mid-level user' with regard to experience. Is there a web cam software package that is a fairly complete solution that is also pretty easy to configure (preferably with a GUI)? Also, some suggestions for compatible webcam hardware would be welcome. I'd like to be able to do this on the cheap, and would love to be able to brag about setting up a Linux web cam. Any help here would be appreciated. Thanks!"
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Linux WebCam Software?

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  • by Wisgary (799898)
    Here you go! [google.com] Now go brag about your awesome google, er, webcam setup skills.
  • You can always just hook up a regular video camera to an ATI Rage All-in-One TV Capture Card (AGP works best!)
  • by Craig Maloney (1104) * on Sunday January 15, 2006 @11:53PM (#14479326) Homepage
    Are you looking for something that will just pop up a semi-frequently updated shot, or are you looking for streaming media? They are pretty different requirements. Also, you didn't mention what kind of camera you'll be running. It's been my experience that the USB cameras out there require a bit of work to get running under Linux. (And some won't even reward you with pictures after considerable effort).
  • Now that we have webcam software, Linux can move forward to being a mainstream desktop OS. I just hope that a/s/l and c4mwhore-i386 are supported.
    • While I am a huge fan of Linux and OSS, this very question (and sarcastic comment) hits the nail on the head for why Linux is NOT ready for the prime-time user.

      For a Windows user, all one needs to do is plug in the webcam and load the programs found on the CD. It takes all of maybe 2 minutes to have the webcam up and running. On Linux, it may take an entire afternoon.

      If Microsoft can be credited for something good, then they should be credited for having a systems that generally works - and can be w
      • by s4m7 (519684) on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:52PM (#14482682) Homepage
        Let's see if I follow your logic here:

        1) Linux isn't ready for the desktop, because it doesn't just work
        2) It doesn't just work because vendors don't provide Linux applications/drivers for their hardware
        3) Vendors don't provide drivers because nobody uses Linux because... Linux isn't ready for the desktop.

        Mmmm-Hmmm. Seems about right to me.
      • For a Windows user, all one needs to do is plug in the webcam and load the programs found on the CD. It takes all of maybe 2 minutes to have the webcam up and running. On Linux, it may take an entire afternoon.

        While I agree mostly with your post, this statement isn't exactly true. It is sometimes absolutely impossible to get hardware working under Windows, as vendors often ship "restore" CDs that are an image of Windows bogged down with nasty stuff that create huge stability problems.

        This effectively mak

      • As far as Windows being the only ready-for-primetime OS... As far as I'm concerned windows will not be ready for primetime until it has gotten over this need to be reinstalled every 3 months in order to keep all that 'just works' hardware and software from self-destructing itself and the OS.

        linux: reboot... seldom, install... once, upgrade... as desired, price... hard to beat
        windows: reboot... daily, install... over and over again, upgrade... is absolutely crucial, price... hard to come up with

        I won'

      • Except it's not Microsoft that did it, it's the 3rd parties which is why Microsoft has a successful desktop monopoly.
  • Unlike the "canned" software packages, Linux is one of the environments where everything is modular. There is no just plain "webcam software" for Linux that I know of.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of components that you can put together to do things with webcams. It depends on what exactly you mean. Do you mean a camera to show your face while you're "chatting" with someone? Or a fixed room-monitor cam that people can get snapshots from off of a website? Or something to stick in a window to do t

  • Hardware (Score:2, Informative)

    by MBCook (132727)
    Here is my hardware suggestion.

    There should be some USB equipment that works. If you look around you should be able to find some. Anything that is compatible with Video 4 Linux (what is the current version? 2?). Look at the kernel drivers in that category and look for hardware that way.

    My second suggestion (and possibly better) would be FireWire (if you have it). It's a video source. You should have no problem since FireWire video is well defined. I would be surprised if this didn't work. So besides the F

    • [sarcasm]
      I've noticed how all the manufacturers have clearly labeled their web cams as supporting Video 4 Linux 2 these days. It makes it really easy to just walk into my local CompUSA, Best Buy, MicroCenter, etc. and just pick up a box off the shelf that I know will work with Linux.
      [/sarcasm]

      I.e. I haven't had that experience. Pretty much as counter to that as the manufacturers can get.

      Cluttering up this place somewhere I have some four webcams that for one reason or another just don't quite work. The clos
  • motion (Score:3, Informative)

    by ender_the_hegamon (214123) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @11:56PM (#14479347) Homepage
    I use motion http://www.lavrsen.dk/twiki/bin/view/Motion/WebHom e [lavrsen.dk], an application which detects motion within your camera's field of vision and then either takes still images or moving video captures of the scene. Great for paranoid security or annoying your roomate.
    • Motion is great. The package compiles dead easily too, it *might* be too complex for this guy, but he should try it... it's not hard!

      I've had a similar question to what this fellow has... I have a video capture card, and it works fine with Motion, but I'm looking for a camera with reasonable night exposure and zoom... from what I can tell, the only stuff out there would be camcorder type equipment. I would strongly prefer a digital camera with USB output rather than relying on my capture card.

      I might

      • Night vision can most likely be had by putting an infrared light source near by. Most CCIDs detect infrared just fine. This is how most consumer night-vision systems work; they splash the area with infrared. You can test it out with any remote control :o)
  • Do-it-yourself-ease (Score:2, Informative)

    by eyepeepackets (33477)
    Get yourself a network-attached webcam (I use a D-link), use wget to go to the camera and get the current jpeg, store it in a directory, use ImageMagick's display program to show the pics.

    This is fast, easy to automate with tcl or bash script, and would probably work just fine on a i486 box.

    You want a pre-packaged GUI program? Sheesh dude, if you don't see what you like out there in userland, make it yourself and present it as a gift to the world.

    Programmin' ain't, like, rocket science, ya know?

    Cheers.
    • I use the same cameras (IP cameras are much more useful than USB/PC attached ones), but instead of wget, I use the annoyingly-awkward-to-configure zoneminder [zoneminder.com] which is a web-based (php/mysql) motion-detection program.

      I get about 4fps from the dlink cameras (using /video.cgi) and would recommend zoneminder when you have a spare server with lots of memory. Disk space is not so important though as it only saves the frames that contain motion.

      It was very nice when I was on holiday recently to be able to check
      • It was very nice when I was on holiday recently to be able to check up on home and see that nothing whatsoever happened in my house when I was away.

        If that server of yours is also located in the house, I would not be so sure about that...
        • Which is why I have 60 second rsyncs with a server in my parents house as well as the server in my own house. The server room is locked when I am away so someone would have to sever the (underground) communications lines coming into my house before breaking in, then they would need to break down the door/lock to the server room, then destroy/take the 9 hard drives in the correct machine. If I was more paranoid than I am I could rig it up to use my neighbour's wireless Internet connection as a backup connect
    • Programmin' ain't, like, rocket science, ya know?

      It is if you're writing rocket control software...

  • linux link tech show (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    webcams on linux were just mentioned on the linux link tech show podcast, so you may want to check that out. i think they were using an isight.
  • Axis (Score:5, Informative)

    by linuxwrangler (582055) on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:20AM (#14479441)
    I'm interested in setting up a Linux based webcam

    Step 1: Buy an Axis [axis.com].

    Step 2: There is no step 2.

    The Axis is what you asked for. It is pre-packaged, embedded-linux-based, open (you can edit the scripts on the device if you want) and very easy to set-up and configure (sometimes as easy as plug in camera, access camera from browser).

    • Except ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:46AM (#14479522)
      The 210/211 are as nice as they come, except you can't set up the motion detection unless you use Internet Exploder. It flatly refuses to work with Firefox.

      An amazing sucky for such a nice camera which runs Linux internally. I tried to get answers from Axis about why and what workaround existed, such as tell me the format of the motion detection files and how to upload them, I would edit manually if I could, but their response was vague and did not answer the question.

      The old 2100 has an ftp option, so I had my own motion detection software which simply downloaded pictures and did its own analysis. There is no ftp option with the 210/211.
    • Only one of about 20 decent choices out there :-) and almost all have some form of web services embedded in their OS. For a decent list of manufactures check out this list of supported hardware [milestonesys.com] over at Milestone. FYI we sell it and the hardware but the list covers many of the top players. Also there is IndigoVision, VCS/Bosch and Smart Sight for those trips in to analog to digital to analog transmition.
  • Camsource (Score:5, Informative)

    by Leknor (224175) on Monday January 16, 2006 @01:05AM (#14479582)
    Camsource: http://camsource.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] has met my needs in the past. It's rather flexible and should work with any Video4Linux cam. (I had a USB webcam) It supports making the cam images available in a variety of formats and can do archiving, motion detection, ftp uploading, multipart streaming and probably more.
  • Ekiga (Score:4, Informative)

    by iamstan (110049) on Monday January 16, 2006 @02:32AM (#14479877)
    Ekiga, formerly known as gnomemeeting, is a full SIP Phone as well as a videoconferencing application. It works with usb webcams as well as firewire attached digital camcorders.

    I've had good luck using this https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Webcam [ubuntu.com] utility to install the latest drivers for many consumer webcams.

    IM clients that do video Chat include aMSN and kopete.
  • by james b (31361)
    My vote goes for camE [linuxbrit.co.uk] - command line only, but it comes with some pre-canned config files that make it easy to set up. It can do timestamps, pretty antialiased/alpha-blended text, keep an archived copy of each image - and it talks scp as well as ftp for somewhat more secure uploading.

    For hardware, I've had good luck with the Philips/pwc cameras (there was a time when they were only supported by a binary module, but the free replacement now works well enough for webcam use).
  • by blackcoot (124938) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:17AM (#14480013)
    webcams under linux break into roughly two camps: firewire (aka DCAM or IIDC) cameras and anything that can be handled by V4L or V4L2. which software you use depends very much on what camera you have (sucks, but that's how it is).

    if you have an iidc camera (a la apple's isight, an orange micro ibot, etc.) then you really should be using coriander which can be compiled with support for ftp upload of the images. you can also use coriander to set things up for using ffmpeg (see below).

    otherwise, i'd suggest looking into using ffserver and ffmpeg. when compiled correctly, it can handle both dv, iddc/dcam, and v4l cameras. i've had rather good results with them, and they're a lot cheaper (i.e. free) than an axis box.

    if neither of these works for you, i wish you the best of luck -- you're probably going to need it.
  • Ubuntu and Camorama (Score:4, Informative)

    by delirium_9 (26055) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:34AM (#14480059) Homepage
    I have a Logitech USB webcam, and in Ubuntu it just works (it worked fine in Gentoo too but I had to do a lot of searching to find the kernel driver for it). Software wise there's a program called Camorama which will automatically take a picture at user-defined intervals and will either save it to your hard drive or upload it to a server. It also gives you the option of having "cool" camera effects as well. And the whole thing could be done by a novice (no command line, easy to understand dialogs).
  • camserv (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    try camserv
    http://cserv.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    • I second that. It's been a year or two since I used it, but it's been around for a LONG time and was the ONLY package I ever found for linux that allowed LIVE STREAMING instead of .jpg snapshots every X seconds.
      • I third that. Perhaps the fact that it's nearly 4 years old and hasn't been updated in 3 is a testament to its usefulness. It does the job, no more no less. The streaming doesn't work in IE without a Javascript kludge, but hey, that's IE! FF & Opera work fine. 15fps on the web page is realistic if you have the bandwidth. Used this on several different RedHat-based machines, the real problem is sorting the driver for the cam. But if you have a Philips or Logitech-type cam, go here [saillard.org]. Issues surrounding pro
      • Seems to work fine. Motion is as easy to install and use, though, and comes with much more surveillance features.

        Unfortunately both seem to only support mjpeg/multipart-jpeg streaming. Anyone know a package that allows streaming of mpeg4 or some other advanced video codec?
  • google for them.

    motion is motion-tracking software, can create stills or video streams and even has a weird webserver kinda-thing. pretty hard to setup the way you want it.

    palantir is a streaming image server (mjpeg?), doesn't work too well for msie (only stills or java applet thing) but is fine for firefox. can also control tiltable webcams.

    other than that, get an axis network camera, built in webserver and dhcp client, just plug it into your switch.
  • If you were running debian I'd simply say -- apt-get install gqcam I installed my first usb webcam on linux (an intel, sigh) yesterday with no effort via this method.
  • If the usb video class takes off like usb mass storage (Logitec is using it for one). Have a look at work of Laurent Pinchart http://linux-uvc.berlios.de/ [berlios.de].
  • ...about setting up a linux webcam. I'd brag about getting published on /.
  • I recently got my webcam set up on ubuntu, without using v4l.. it might work for other distros.. found a much easier method at a place you should've looked too (like google).. Howto [ubuntu.com]
  • by OctaneZ (73357) *
    Spook is a linux Video Streamer [litech.org] applicaiton. He goes in to and the in's and out's of the applicaiton, there is an active though quiet lately [litech.org] Mailing list that may answer many questions [litech.org]. The developer is also responsive to email when he he isn't compltetely swamped with other deadlines.
    There is also a Fredhmeat page [freshmeat.net] about the project.
    • by kv9 (697238)
      one of spooks nice features is the multipart jpegs it can send over http. insta-clients everywhere [the browser supports it]. i use it with a couple of el cheapo cams and i couldnt be happier.
  • http://webcamserver.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] webcam_server is a program that allows others to view your webcam from a web browser. The program itself is a server that provides a live feed of images to clients using a Java applet embedded in a web page. webcam_server uses the video4linux interface.
  • I use motion with WinTV cards. WinTV cards are very nicely supported by windows and linux. I use cheap composite cameras from Sams Club ($40 for 640x480 color with infrared night vision, also comes with cabling) and they seem to work fine. For the price of a comparable USB "webcam", a $40 Wintv card and a $40 camera isn't too bad of a price. With motion, I have built-in motion detection that saves jpgs when it detects motion. I also have it encode xvid through ffmpeg. It's pretty easy to set up and just run
  • Go to this site and take a look [mxhaard.free.fr]. If you're a nerd for Linux, no problem. You grok this and get it done.

    If not, well... imagine having to force Windows XP users who have never been without a GUI to compile XP programs and drivers and patches at the DOS command prompt. Nightmare. If you don't think so, you obviously never worked desktop support in a corporation or for home users. The majority may be whizzes at day trading, welding, cooking, whatever they do for a job, but they largely suck flat out at figur

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