Choosing a Webcam for Linux

As of this writing (August 19, 2009) the best way to ensure webcam compatibility with Fedora 11 Linux, or any other version that supports webcams, is to purchase one that is USB Video Class (UVC) compliant. UVC is a protocol standard that is supported with drivers for most operating systems including Linux. Note that there are NO Microsoft webcams that are compliant with this standard as far as I can determine — why am I not surprised by this.

I found that Logitech has a portion of their website devoted to Linux support and they have a paper which is a complete device list of their UVC webcam devices. If the webcam appears on this list it is supported under Linux. I cross-referenced this against the list of Logitech webcams currently being sold by BestBuy and all of the ones sold at BestBuy are UVC compliant and are therefore alleged to be supported under Linux.

I purchased a Logitech QuickCam Communicate MP based on the data in the paper. The video worked upon plugging the device in. I used the Cheese Webcam Booth to verify that it worked. I did have to manually select the “UVC Camera” device under Preferences.

2009-10-17 Note:The problems described below with the USB webcam microphones appear to be resolved with the latest sound system upgrades. The microphone is now recognized without needing to be activated by using the sound recorder to select it. I will leave those instructions here in case this issue arises again or you are using an unupdated version of Fedora 11.

Microphone Issues

I had to fiddle a bit to get the webcam’s internal microphone working. Neither Cheese nor Skype provide a selection for the built-in microphone. Kmix does not select the microphone either. Using the Sound Recorder (KDE Menu=>Multimedia=>Sound Recorder) I used the File=> Open Volume Control menu to select “QuickCam Communicate” as the audio input device. This seems to have resolved the problem for all of the applications which use the microphone.

Note: This procedure needs to be done every time the webcam is disconnected and reconnected or the computer is rebooted. I will try to find a resolution for that.

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