Saturday, January 9, 2010

Webcams on Linux

HP 2.0MP webcam, Fedora 12

Linux support for web camera's has been expanding by leaps and bounds. Cameras that did not work in previous releases may work well now.

It still leaves you wondering what will work, and what won't. Nobody likes the hassle of bringing home a shiny new toy just to find out it does not work. Then there is facing the return process.

My first rule of thumb in buying a toy is: If you don't know for sure that it will work, buy if from a local vendor with a generous return policy.

I took that rule to a new level a few weeks ago. Lee, my eldest daughter, and I took my netbook (1) to the electronics department of our local (2) Wal-Mart store. We tested every camera they had in stock (3). The results are below:

HP, 1.3MP, driver needs work, poor picture quality
AU165AA, 2.0MP, good audio and video
Creative Labs, C120, good video, no microphone
Creative Labs, C250, good video, good audio
Microsoft, VX-1000, good video, good audio
Microsoft, VX-3000, good video, good audio

We purchased two C120's and two HP 2.0's.

One C120 went on the Dell 1420 laptop of my youngest daughter, Kirsten. The driver was not there, so, we updated the Ubuntu 9.04 to 9.10 and it worked fine.

One C120 went on the laptop of Amalia, Kirsten's college roommate, it is running WinVista and so far we have had no complaints.

One HP went on Lee's Lenovo laptop running Fedora 12, it worked fine.

One HP went on my main system, Athlon X2 running Fedora 12, it worked fine.

(1) Acer Aspire AO751h running Fedora 11 Linux 2.6.30

(2) Wal-Mart, Highway 70, Clayton, NC
(3) We chose damaged or previously opened boxes, if there were any, otherwise we were extremely careful not to leave the product looking like it had been "tampered with" or "returned".