Webcams are handled differently from cameras. They require a kernel driver and it available files like /dev/video0 pop up.

QuickCam 3000 Pro

The Quickcam 3000 used the kernel module pwc with binary code inside that caused a conflict with the GPL. Due to the GPL problem with the binary code running inside the Linux kernel, the original pwc and pwcx drivers were no more available with the kernel sources. Furthermore the maintenance of them has been stopped. A fork of pwc, usb-pwc-re was then available as a rework of the pwc driver without binaries. Luckily now a clean pwc is back in the kernel sources and can be compiled as module pwc or built into the kernel.

Additionally there is setpwc user space package for it.

Thyphoon EasyCam

Obviously the right driver needs to be found lsusb shows its id 0c45:6028 and this gives

      sonixb 0c45:6028 Sonix Btc Pc380

to work the kernel needs to be compiled having the drivers gspca_sonixb and also the main driver gspca_main.

Webcam applications

Test it with (put the camera into light, otherwise you might debug for no reason):

mplayer tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:device=/dev/video0

mplayer tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:width=352:height=288:device=/dev/video0

and mplayer can take even screen-shots pressing key s with

mplayer tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:width=352:height=288:device=/dev/video0 -vf screenshot

cheese a gui tool from gnome (has a lot of dependency with gnome libraries)

camorama has not a lot of dependencies and does what a simple user desires. Unfortunately if more than one cam is present, the gui does not allow to select the cam. However it isppossible via command line camorama -d /dev/video1

camstream was my favorite Webcam application, since it was easy to use and worked well.

Figure 12.4. camstream


xawtv -c /dev/video0 is the classic video application but more dedicated for TV cards.

To avoid problems, make sure the web cam is directly connected to the PC and not via a hub.

IR cameras

The electronics of standard web cams would support usually IR and would therefore suitable to view and record pictures in the dark. For such purposes IR would usually be emitted by e.g. IR LED's. However the cameras have a IR filter that blocks IR and therefore the cameras can not be used in dark environment. If you are lucky the lenses are not coated and your camera has an IR filter that can be removed. An other problem is that the focus for IR is different than from visible light, so the position of the lenses need to be adjusted.

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