Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (4633 mails)

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[opensuse] Video for Linux questions
  • From: Simon Roberts <thorpflyer@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 11:07:16 -0800 (PST)
  • Message-id: <20061221190716.66362.qmail@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi all,

I've got a little webcam that seems to be supported (via some extras, it doesn't seem to be mainstream) as a video for linux (v4l) device. I travel a lot in my work, and it occurs to me that it would be quite a nice trick if I could get several of these and mount them in various rooms in the house so that I can a) check on the general state of the house (and perhaps most importantly my cats who are left home alone) while I'm away and b) possibly capture slow-frame video that might help in case I had burglars.

So, this raises several questions:

1) What webcam devices are best supported under linux?

2) If I simply plug multiple (supported) USB-based webcams into my system, will they all "just show up", i.e. will I find that I have /dev/video0, /dev/video "by magic"? If it's not that simple is is hard to have multiple video devices?

2a) Not a linux question, but can I make USB work with a long cable? I'd need these devices in separate rooms to be useful, and that would require them to be on tens of feet of wire. That, I suspect, would not be a simple matter, but can I daisy chain usb hubs to get around this, or some other approach?

3) What tools/applications should I look at to support this kind of idea? I have found xawtv (which I think allows me to select the video device I'm viewing) and streamer, which looks like it can grab snapshots at slow rates, but doesn't work for grabbing a video stream in my installation. But are there other tools I haven't noticed?

3a) In particular, it would be really valuable to have a compression mechanism that drops frames that are close to identical to the previous one, but that grabs at a higher frame rate when consecutive frames differ a lot (i.e. when someone is walking around in the camera's view :) Any suggestions on this? I think it's behavior that is inherent to mpeg compression, but I don't see how to insert this "into the stream".

Anything else I should know, or haven't thought about yet?


"You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions." — Naguib Mahfouz

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