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A Guide to Webcams on Dell Laptops and Desktops with Ubuntu Operating Systems

Summary: This article provides information about webcams and their use in Dell computers with Ubuntu operating systems.

This article may have been automatically translated. If you have any feedback regarding its quality, please let us know using the form at the bottom of this page.

Article Content


Symptoms


Table of Contents:

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

 

Introduction

 

There are two basic types of webcams that is used with Dell computers:

External Add on Webcams:

These are webcam that connect to the computer for use. These types of webcams usually use a USB connecting cable.

Integrated Webcams:

These are built into all our laptop and All in One (AIO) computer's. They are always connected, and the cables are internal to the computer's bezel.

Ubuntu Linux being open source does not use windows drivers. The Linux developers make every effort include "out of the box" or "plug-and-play" support for Universal Video Class (UVC) webcams. They have been getting better results with each revision since 7.10. This includes the integrated Webcams in use on Dell computers.

 
Note: If you purchase an external webcam for a Dell computer running the Ubuntu operating system, ensure it is a UVC compatible device. (There is a good list of compatible devices on the page that is linked below. It is a page from the Idea's onboard site.)
 


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Cause

 

Identify your webcam

 

Webcams often share similar or identical major components, even when they look different externally. This means that generic drivers may work for various 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 does not 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 must 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 computer itself, we are 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 the devices that are connected to the USB bus. The information about your webcam is on that list.

  2. There is 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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Resolution

 

Install your webcam Driver

 

Note: Dell only supports the hardware that they ship with the computer and the factory installed version of the Ubuntu Operating system. We check the hardware and an OS reinstall from the recovery partition to identify any issues. If the hardware and OS passes, you may 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. You may need to contact the Ubuntu community forums if you are looking for a specific driver outside of UVC. I give some steps in the section below, but this is for your information and is used at your own risk.

Several different projects provide the Linux Ubuntu webcam drivers. Although the UVC project covers many devices, support for others is provided elsewhere.

This section aims to help you install your webcam's drivers. (Ubuntu has not automatically installed the driver.)

  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 must 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: Ensure that the driver downloaded to a directory that 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 that 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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Ubuntu Software/Applications for use with your webcam

 

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

Cheese

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

  • Cheese supports up to 480P resolution. If your webcam's resolution is higher than 480P, we suggest testing the webcam using Teams to ensure that the resolution is correct.
Empathy

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

VLC

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

FFmpeg

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

MPlayer

This application can display a webcam video stream.

MEncoder

This 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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Additional Information

 

Note: Canonical provides software support through the following methods:
Dell provides Technical Support:


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Article Properties


Affected Product

Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Fixed Workstations

Last Published Date

13 Jan 2023

Version

7

Article Type

Solution