Tue, 23 May 2006
For a long time, Ekiga (and GnomeMeeting before that) had support not only for voice, but also for video. I did not have time nor hardware to test it yet. Today I have finally managed to borrow some webcams from my Windows section coworkers.
The good news is, that apparently everything works more-or-less correctly.
I have plugged in the first webcam (labeled Creative Labs),
lsusb discovered that it is in fact an OV-511 device,
using Google I have found that there is indeed a driver named
ov511, even included
in the standard kernel. After compiling and installing this module, Ekiga
immediately worked (I had to use the V4L driver, not V4L2),
and I was able to do both audio and H.264 video transmission while
calling their test URL
Even calling home worked (after enabling the video support on the remote Ekiga). The only slight annoyance with this (rather old) webcam is, that the viewing angle is too narrow, and I had to be careful not to move my head too much in order to stay in the picture.
The second webcam was newer - Logitech QuickCam 4000 Pro. It can be driven
by a Philips USB webcam driver,
which is also included in the mainstream kernel. When trying to use this webcam
with Ekiga or Mplayer, only a gray rectangle was shown. I had to use the
setpwc utility to
change the camera settings in order to get a reasonable image instead of
a gray rectangle. Sample settings are shown in the PWC webcam wiki (see the question
setpwc for the sample parameters).
I was surprised how easy it was to setup a software videophone under Linux. There are some projects left to the future explorations - for example using a built-in microphone in the webcam, or using the servos and some motion detection software to keep the head in the picture. Finding a good SIP softphone for Windows for my inlaws would also be an interesting project.