Webcam streaming with Guvcview and QtCAM

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Article from Issue 237/2020
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If your new webcam doesn't work with the default software on your Linux system, try your luck with Guvcview or QtCAM.

Many webcam manufacturers still don't take Linux seriously, which means that kernel modules for many cameras are often created by freelance developers. In some cases, the manufacturer even changes the chipset during a production run without informing the Linux community. The result of all this uncertainty is that webcam operations in Linux are somewhat unpredictable. A specific system might work out-of-the-box for some cameras but have troubles with others. Users today, however, are accustomed to more seamless hardware configuration. If you, or anyone who depends on you for Linux advice, is having trouble with getting a webcam to work in Linux, one option is to replace the on-board webcam utility shipped with your distro with an alternative application. Guvcview and QtCAM are powerful alternative tools that are suitable for all desktops and support a wide range of cameras.

Tech Talk

On Linux systems, the UVC driver, or the GSPCA driver for older models, can talk to most webcams. The UVC module even supports cameras connected via USB, and it supports webcams built into laptops. A list of compatible webcams can be found on the UVC project's website [1].

The GSPCA driver is used for cameras that do not yet use the UVC driver but can be addressed via a special bridge chipset. A list of supported cameras can be found on the LinuxTV project website [2].

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