Knowledge Base

A guide to webcams on Dell notebook and desktop PCs with Ubuntu operating systems



This article provides information on webcams and their use in Dell PCs with Ubuntu operating systems.


Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Identify your Webcam
  3. Install your Webcam Driver
  4. Ubuntu Software / Applications for use with your Webcam

1. Introduction

There are two basic types of webcam used with Dell PCs :

External Add on Webcams :

These are webcam that connect to the PC for use. Usually by the use of a USB cable.

Integrated Webcams :

These are built in to all of our Notebook and AIO (All in One) PCs. They are always connected and the cables are internal to the systems bezel.

Ubuntu linux being open source, doesn't use windows drivers. However the developers have made every effort to build in "out of the box" or "plug and play" support for a wide range of UVC (Universal Video Class) webcams into their operating systems and they have been getting better results with each revision since 7.10. This includes the integrated Webcams in use on Dell PCs.

Note: However if you are purchasing an external Webcam for use with a Dell PC running on an Ubuntu operating system, then please make sure its a UVC compatible device. (There is a good list of compatible devices on the page linked below. It's a page from the Idea's on Board site.)


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2. Identify your Webcam

Webcams often share similar or identical major components, even when they look quite different externally. This means that generic drivers may work for a variety of different makes and models. As stated above the idea is that once you have installed one of the more recent versions of Ubuntu - your webcam should just work.

However if your webcam doesn't Just Work, then being able to identify the device and check if it requires a specific driver comes in handy.

To identify your webcam properly, you will need to know :

  1. The Make, Model Name or Number.

  2. Any Version or Revision information.

This kind of information is often printed on the device or its packaging. (Such as Logitech, Lifecam or Creative Live and REV 01 or VER. 01.1.)

To get this kind of information from the system itself, we're going to use the Terminal utility : (CTRL + ALT + T)

  1. Record the output of the lsusb command:

    lsusb -v

    This command prints information about all of the devices connected to the USB bus. The information about your webcam will be on that list.

  2. There's a second use of the same lsusb command to get additional information:

    lsusb -n

    This version of the command lists the device's USB ID. This gives you a unique number to identify your device.


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3. Install your Webcam Driver

Note: Dell only supports the hardware they ship with the PC and the factory installed version of the Ubuntu Operating system. If the hardware checks out OK and an OS reinstall from the recovery partition doesn't resolve the issue, then you could be directed to contact Canonical for further Software support. If the webcam in question is a third party device you may be directed to contact the manufacturer of the device for further help. If you're looking for a specific driver that isn't covered by the UVC then you may be directed to contact the Ubuntu community forums with the information your collected in section 2. I will give some steps in the section below, but this information is used at your own risk.

Linux Ubuntu Webcam drivers are provided by several different projects. Although the UVC project covers many devices, support for others is provided elsewhere.

This section aims to help you install your webcam's drivers if they have not been automatically installed by Ubuntu.

  1. Get the linux Headers:

    sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-'uname -r'

    You need these so you can compile the drivers when they are downloaded.

  2. Get the modules for your particular webcam:

    wget <driver link address>

    You will need to enter the link address for the particular driver download you have identified for your particular device. (Usually you can get this from a web search or by requesting help from the Ubuntu Community forums.)

Note: Make sure the driver downloaded to a directory you know.
  1. Move to the drivers directory and extract the source files from the tar files:

    tar -xvf <driver name>.tar.gz

    and change directory to where your sources are:

    cd <driver name>

    Where <driver name> is the name of the driver you are installing.

  2. Prepare the installation files:

    make
  3. Compile the modules:

    sudo make install
  4. And install them:

    sudo depmod -A
    sudo modprobe <driver name>


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4. Ubuntu Software / Applications for use with your Webcam

Since Ubuntu Version 10.10, there has been a number of programs or applications which will work with or use your webcam. I'll give a quick list below with a quick description of what each program does :

Cheese

This program is often used to test Webcam funcionality. The program captures video and stills from the webcam and can also apply some special effects.

Empathy

This program was a long time default application which dealt with VoIP/Video Chat.

VLC

This program is an open source Movie player, but also has functions that allow you to choose a "capture device", to record from that device or stream the feed.

FFmpeg

This is a audio / video recording and conversion and streaming application, that is cross-platform.

MPlayer

This application is able to display a webcam video stream.

MEncoder

This a companion application to MPlayer which can record from a webcam to video files.

Skype

Skype is a dedicated VoIP/Video Chat program, that Microsoft has made an open source version which it updates.

Streamer

This is a package which provides a picture taking facility using the Terminal command line interface.


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Further Information:

Note:
Software support is provided by Canonical through the following methods:
Technical Support is provided by Dell :


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Quick Tips content is self-published by the Dell Support Professionals who resolve issues daily. In order to achieve a speedy publication, Quick Tips may represent only partial solutions or work-arounds that are still in development or pending further proof of successfully resolving an issue. As such Quick Tips have not been reviewed, validated or approved by Dell and should be used with appropriate caution. Dell shall not be liable for any loss, including but not limited to loss of data, loss of profit or loss of revenue, which customers may incur by following any procedure or advice set out in the Quick Tips.

Article ID: SLN298412

Last Date Modified: 10/12/2017 09:55 AM


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