Category Archives: Hardware

Webcams on Linux

Since Joanne’s parents live in Thailand, they’re not able to see their new granddaughter very often. They use skype to communicate regularly, so we thought we’d grab a cheap little webcam so that they could see Ruby while they were talking as well. I picked up the cheapest webcam they had at the local Best Buy: a Logitech QuickCam Communicate STX for $35. Just for fun, I thought I’d try it out on my Ubuntu Feisty machine, not really expecting much. To my surprise, I plugged it into the USB port, fired up Ekiga [1], and within 10 seconds was having a video chat with my brother (well, the video chat was one way, since he doesn’t have a webcam or a microphone, but I’m told that he could see and hear me).

By contrast, to get it to work on Joanne’s Windows machine (so she could use it with Skype), it wanted to immediately download updated ‘drivers’ (probably including a bunch of useless utility software — over 100MB!) and of course, install them. It installed without problem, but all-in-all, it took about 10 times as long as it did to get it working on Linux.

When I first started using Linux, I would have never dreamed that hardware support would have gotten this good by now. In fact, on the way home from picking up the webcam, I joked to Joanne that getting it to work on Linux was going to be my weekend project. Ha!

[1] By the way, this is the first time I’ve used Ekiga. It’s quite nice, and the new GUI work looks great.