Webcam Overview

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Contents

Introduction

Webcams can be somewhat tricky in MEPIS, as in the rest of Linux. The extent to which they function depends on the webcam itself (and the driver it requires) and whether you are wanting just video or also audio (i.e. built-in microphone).

Use and Testing

Note that some webcam/driver combinations might work OK for some applications, but not for others. So install and test several applications:

  • For applications, refer to both the Webcam Software and Video Chat Software listed at Linux software page
  • http://www.testmycam.com/ uses flash to test your webcam, but many people report that their webcam works fine with other applications, but not this site.

Is your webcam supported?

Method 1

Use the command "lsusb" (or "lspci" if it's integrated) to get the brand and model and USB ID of your webcam. Example output:

 Bus 001 Device 002: ID 046d:0870 Logitech, Inc. QuickCam Express

Then Google that information to find out about its driver and Linux status, and check the MEPIS and Ubuntu tables linked below.

Many common video drivers are supplied with MEPIS. Users often report particularly good luck with webcams supported by the gspca driver that is available through Synaptic--see list of supported webcams at link below.

Alternate Method

Sometimes the command "lsusb" will give you info that the webcam is recognised - but in the case of more "generic" type webcams, there may not be any useful info from the output. If this is the case, go to the manual / paperwork that came with the webcam, and look for the chipset type and google that. Here is an example (below) to the wiki to show how to solve the driver issue for a generic type webcam.

Example 1 - Getting Working Drivers for Generic Webcam

I purchased a no-name brand webcam (XH5223 - DSE 2.0MP USB 2.0 Webcam with MIC) at a very good price from a retailer in NZ. After connecting it, I ran lsusb from a terminal to find info for the required driver. This yielded:

 Bus 001 Device 008: ID 04f2:a138 Chicony Electronics Co., Ltd

I googled this information - but didn't come up with anything remotely driver related.
So I went to the small manual that came with the webcam, and found this section on chipset

 Chipset : OV2640 UXGA / ASIC: CA810A

Googling OV2640 led to the realisation that this was an OmniVision chipset - that required the UVC video driver - information commonly found at http://linux-uvc.berlios.de/
From the Berlios website, I was able to download (they provided a neat command line to download latest svn version) the source for the driver, then it was a simple 'make' and 'make install' (I actually used checkinstall) to install the driver. (NOTE: this driver is part of the kernel in MEPIS 8)
But how to test? Quick trip to synaptic - and there is a GTK app called "cheese" which looked promising. Installed, ran it, and *BINGO* camera working.
NOTE - for Cheese to work properly (video), I also had to ensure following installed:

  • gstreamer-0.10 >= 0.10.12
  • gstreamer-plugins-base-0.10 >= 0.10.12
  • gstreamer-plugins-good-0.10 >= 0.10.12
  • gstreamer0.10-x

Example 2: setting up any webcam using the uvcvideo driver

NOTE: this driver is now part of the kernel.

  • First, look here to see if your USB Video Class (UVC) webcam is supported

Make sure that your webcam is plugged in DIRECTLY to one of your PC's USB ports (NOT via a USB hub).

subversion (svn)
build-essential
Ekiga or Skype
  • As regular user, type
svn checkout svn://svn.berlios.de/linux-uvc/linux-uvc/trunk
  • In a terminal as regular user type:
cd /home/username/trunk
make
  • Then become root and type:
cp /home/username/trunk/uvcvideo.ko /lib/modules/$(uname -r)/kernel/drivers/media/video/uvc/uvcvideo.ko
  • Unplug webcam, and type as root:
depmod -ae
modprobe -r uvcvideo && modprobe uvcvideo 
  • Plug in webcam.
  • Now as normal user ($)
dmesg | tail

This should tell you whether the uvcvideo driver has been installed correctly. If not, try rebooting.

  • Finally, run Skype or Kopete to check its functions. Note that different applications may not all work the same, or at all.

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