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Webcams in Linux, Part 1 - page 2

Linux Likes Webcams, Sort Of

  • February 21, 2008
  • By Carla Schroder
If you're still shopping, first find out what works best on your own particular Linux distribution. Mandriva is probably the Webcam-friendliest Linux. Logitech Webcams are the most popular, but not all of them have native Linux drivers.

If you're using an inherited Webcam, you may get lucky and it will work as soon as you connect it. Here is the short way:

  1. Install Camorama
  2. Install both v4l and v4l2 (Video for Linux)
  3. Connect Webcam
  4. Start Camorama
  5. Wave to yourself
If Camorama doesn't work, try the Testbed account in Kopete. Figure 1 shows me and my best friend in Kopete.

Figure 1 shows a problem with integrated Webcams: you have to adjust your whole screen to frame your image. I was sitting tall, too.

Camorama does not support v4l2, which is unfortunate because v4l2 has a lot of improvements and bugfixes over version 1. The Ubuntu forums are full of users asking what the "could not connect to video device (dev/video0)" error message means when they try to use Camorama. One reason is they're using a driver that requires v4l2, or they don't have v4l installed.

On a modern Linux distribution, udev and HAL should detect the Webcam, create /dev/video0 with the correct permissions, owner root and group video, and load the correct kernel module. If you are not in the "video" group, add yourself, then logout and log back in. Run the id command with no options to make sure. Run lsmod to verify that the correct kernel module loaded.

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