20 Feb 2010

Webcam under Linux

I have for a long time now wanted to get a web cam running under Linux but just never got around to it - I guess in part due to the fact that in the past there were "still" issues with Usb devices under Linux, and so it just never happened. One day last week I received an e-mail from Skype that I would likely lose any credit on my account if I did not make a call within the next 20 or so days - to be honest, I dont use it that often, however I decided to put a call through just to keep it going. Well ,I then left the PC running only to return some time later that afternoon (forgetting that skype was still active) - whilst at the PC I noticed a flash at the bottom right hand side telling me that an old colleague of mine had just signed into skype as he was on my call list - so thought it an ideal time to give him a shout, surprise surprise ! up popped a video box, and there he was in full colour, I have to admit to this being my first encounter with video, and my colleague expressed his surprise at my not having a "Webcam" so - after the call I thought I'd take a quick look to see exactly which cams were supported under Linux - It did not really say as the list I had was sketchy (not unusual), and several appeared to need "Tweeks", but did give a list of cams that might work, one of which was a Logitech c250 - Apparently with a lot of these Usb devices is all about the little peice of firmware built into the device that is read by the program at start - up, much like a scanner, or printer so I went out to make my purchase. I spotted the C250 in Tesco of all places and for around £15 (Yes it's very cheap) - I simply downloaded a program called "Cheese" which supports quite a few devices on Linux including the Logitech series cams, plugged in the cam and without any interference or tweaking on my part up popped the program complete with image Figure 1 Obviously at this price it's not exactly HD, but it all worked "out of the box", and thats just the way it should be - I remember having quite a struggle getting my Epson USB scanner working under Linux - believe it or not, this device did not work under XP having installed Logitech's (correct drivers) - Anyway it's mission accomplished as far as I'm concerned, I'll probably only use it once in a blue moon with Skype but it was interesting to see it working. By the way it's not me in the Pic :-) Enjoy the Weekend: Peter

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