Friday, August 12, 2005


Creative WebCam Live! on Linux

I recently bought a Creative WebCam Live!, its a really nice camera for the price that you pay. Only drawback with this camera is that is USB 1.0 camera and not USB 2.0. Guess you can't get everything you want when you have price barrier. This camera works great on windows. I am avid Linux user. Whenever I buy hardware the most important thing that I look for is Linux support. When I was buying the web cam I wasn't paying much attention to this. After I got it I realised that possibly I should have bought something like the Logitech QuickCam which has a decent Linux support. Today as of now I have my webcam working in Linux. The distribution of Linux I am using is Gentoo. I am currently running the 2.6.10 kernel.

The kernel module that you need to compile is the spca5xx module. I am currently using the latest build which is spca5xx-20050701 which you can download from

How do you know if your device is supported or not. There is a list of devices supported, which can be found here. Search for your webcam using the pair vendor id and product id. Obviously if you don't know what the pair is, you want to find out how. How do you find out would be the next question. You can find it using either some tool or viewing /proc/bus/usb/devices.

The tool I uses is the usbutils which has the command lsusb, similar to lspci, to list all usb devices connected to the system. You can find the vendor id and product id from it. If you don't have usbutils installed and don't want to take the pains of doing so (trust me its worth taking the pains). Open /proc/bus/usb/devices using your favourite editor. Find the device in the list, once you locate your device you will see a line like this:

P: Vendor=xxxx ProdID=xxxx Rev=xx.xx

You have your vendor id and product id from this.

I assume that you already have USB support compiled into the kernel or as a module. Make sure that you have Video For Linux compiled either into the kernel or as a module. You can find Video For Linux under "Device Drivers -> Multimedia devices". Once you have compiled all the necessary modules run modules-update. Then you just need to modprobe spca5xx kernel module. If you had compiled Video For Linux as a module then videodev should automatically be inserted, if not you need to modprobe videodev kernel module. You can check to see if your device for the webcam has been created, it should be /dev/video0 (video"zero"). You can create a symlink /dev/video for it as some application use the device /dev/video to open your camera source. All you need to do now is run your favourite application to capture the video from /dev/video0.

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