1. Introduction

This document was written to assist the reader in setting up and configuring a webcam, digital camera, or other video device in the Linux operating system. It outlines how to enable the necessary kernel and/or software support and various frame-grabber applications that can be used to access your device. It does not discuss the differences in graphic and video formats, the features and/or capabilities of particular devices, or the encoding or conversion of video formats.

1.1. Copyright Information

This document is Copyright 2004-2005, by Howard Shane.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute, and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license can be found in Appendix A.

1.2. Disclaimer

No liability for the contents of this document can be accepted. Use the concepts, examples and other content entirely at your own risk. As this is a new edition, there may be technical or other inaccuracies that may result in the loss of irreplaceable data. In any case, proceed with caution, and realize that although errors are highly unlikely, the author can accept no responsibility for them.

All copyrights are held by their respective owners, unless specifically noted otherwise. Use of a term in this document should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.

Naming of particular products or brands should not be seen as endorsements.

1.3. New Versions

This is the fourth release.

The latest version number of this document can be found here.

1.4. Credits

I would like to thank all of the individuals that have pioneered video support for Linux, in particular the v4l and v4l2 teams, Gerd Knorr, and the Metzler Brothers among others.

Also, I would like to thank Marla, who has the grace to accept my imperfections and idiosyncrasies unconditionally, including my obsession with projects such as this.

1.5. Feedback

Please send any additions or comments pertaining to this document to the following email address: . In particular, if you have information about new devices or interfaces supported or errata, please contact me so we can keep this document up-to-date!

1.6. Conventions Used in this Document

The following conventions are used in this document and are outlined here for those who may not yet have a complete understanding of how to access and control the underlying operating system in Linux, which is usually via the Bash shell.

First, filenames are referenced in a paragraph like so: /path/file

Commands in Linux are executed (or 'called') at the command prompt, otherwise known as the 'command line.' If you are in the non-graphical (text-based) environment, you will usually be presented with the Bash shell prompt which is a dollar sign:


...or the hash mark:


...if you have logged in as root or have otherwise acquired root, or 'superuser' privileges. You can also access the Bash shell in the X window system, otherwise known as X or X11, with an xterm or similar X-terminal-emulator. Commands to be performed at the Bash prompt, but referenced in a paragraph of this document, usually look like this: do this now

Commands and/or the resulting output of commands may also be outlined with screen output in their own paragraph or heading:

   $  date
   Sun Jul 27 22:37:11 CDT 2003

When a command is written in front of the Bash prompt (e.g., $ date above), it is assumed the [Return] or [Enter] key has been pressed after the command, possibly followed by the output on a new line (e.g., as in the date in the above example).

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