The Webcam Project


Ever since the dawn of the internet, man has been pushing the technological boundaries to realise his dream of harnessing high speed communications networks in order to send video of himself to the wider world...

... mainly video of himself stark bollock naked that is.

No matter. Webcams may be yesterday's news when it comes to the list of fun and funky things that you can plug into your shiny computer, but getting them to work under Linux is complicated enough for me to present my work with the humble webcam as a Cool Project in it's own right.

I share with you now the following related articles which all came about just 'cos I wanted to keep an eye on the weather back in Blighty while I swanned off to Rhodes on my hols earlier this year...

Using a Video4Linux (V4L) compliant webcam with camE
Using a Video4Linux2 (V4L2) compliant webcam with fswebcam
Refreshing a webcam image with Java and using a webcam with Joomla 1.5
Making a weatherproof webcam for outdoors
The view from my corner of Leamington Spa via my TV aerial mounted webcam!
The electro-mechanical USB reset circuit

Update 21/07/09 The webcam has been on the roof for a whole year now. How's it getting on?

Update 10/03/12 A *new* webcam project!

Webcams in Linux - a must read before you start!

There are two video capture API's for Linux - Video4Linux (V4L) and Video4Linux2 (V4L2). As you may have guessed from the name, V4L2 is the second version of V4L.

Why do you care?? Well, because it can be terribly confusing if you want to set up a simple webcam in Linux. Some cameras only support V4L or V4L2 and some apps only support V4L or V4L2.

Wanna test your camera? Install a nice little app called cheese. You'll find it in your repository and it works with V4L or V4L2 compliant devices. You should also find things such as Skype and Ekiga work okay too but some software like xawtv and camE didn't like the V4L2 cameras I threw at them so be prepared to do some research on camera *and* application compatibility and don't assume that just because your webcam works in one application, it'll work in all of them!

All I wanted to do was set up a simple webcam looking outside of my house. Because my webcam was V4L2 compatible only, I wasn't able to find a suitable capture application in the Ubuntu repos hence my downloading and installing fswebcam (see link above).

It just goes to show that something as (seemingly) simple and commonplace as the humble webcam can still get a bit of a hard time in Linux but hey, in my opinion it's things like this that help us to learn and understand such technology, right?

...right?

... hello??