Monday Oct 20, 2008

Use ekiga and a usb webcam for video conference

It is easy to setup a video conference by using ekiga.


1. Plug your USB webcam.
(See the list of webcams supported on opensolairs)

You then should have the device file /dev/video0 created automatically.


2. Configure ekiga with GUI.


When the first time running Ekiga or you click Ekiga menu
Edit -> Configuration Druid, you can see a dialog pop up. After click
"Forward" button for a couple of times, you see a dialog to ask for an
account, you can just click "I do not want to sign up for the ekiga.net
free service", and then go forward. When you are asked for choosing
"Video Manager", please choose V4L2. After these configuration steps,
you
can see the application window, and then click the video camera button
to see
the video. Now you will see the local video captured by your usb webcam.


3. To connect with others to see the remote video.


It is easy to use h323 protocol to connect two PCs. Just one step:


In the address blank of Ekiga main window, type:
h323:hostname,
or
h323:ip-address, e.g., h323:192.111.111.1

The hostname or ip address belong to the PC that you want to call. Then type return or click the call button to issue the call. After the peer accepted the call, then you are connected. Remote video will be displayed on both sides.


Note:
If ekiga can not detect the webcam but the /dev/video0 file is already created, it might be the file permission problem. The access to /dev/video0 is
granted to login user only. So, if you are running ekiga using another user
name, then ekiga can not detect the webcam. Just change the user to the
login user will make it work.


Tips:
After you are connected, clicked the "View" menu to try various ways of displaying remote/local video or zoom the video.

Saturday Dec 15, 2007

In practice: Ekiga video conference

It happened on this Tuesday (December 11, 2007). By running the latest Solaris Express on laptops, we had the first dual way Ekiga video conference between Sun engineering teams in Beijing and headquarter staff in MPK, US. During the whole meeting, which lasted more than one hour, the video stream is quite stable and the video quality is fine. I like video conferences much than audio only ones. People smile to each other and wave to each other, very nice. Many people know each other by emails or by conference calls, now, they see faces and smiles.

Not like some dedicated video conference equipments, the hardware equipments we used are very simple, just a laptop + a webcams + a projector. All are low cost commodity devices. In Beijing conference room, we use a Lenovo laptop running Solaris Express (build 76) and a Logitech USB webcam. US staff were using the similar equipments.

More detail usage info about Ekiga application and USB webcam driver can be found in my previous blogs:
USB webcams and video conferencing on Solaris
Have a larger video size in Ekiga

Sunday Jun 24, 2007

USB webcams and video conferencing on Solaris

OpenSolaris build 56 (released in January, 2007), USB video class
driver usbvc(7D) is integrated into Solaris. That is, if a user plug a
USB webcam that compliant to USB video class spec from usb.org, then
the webcam will plug and play on Solaris. More details see the "Heads-up".

In OpenSolaris build 63 (released in April, 2007), Ekiga video plugin
is also integrated. It is a video conferencing application, supporting
H323 and SIP protocol. Solaris users can enjoy video conference on
Solaris if they have a USB webcam and a audio speaker/microphone.

While I was developing usbvc driver, a JDS team was working on Ekiga
video plugin. There are a lot of cases need be tested for the driver
and Ekiga application. Ekiga is the first user of  the driver,
therefore, several problems are discovered when they run together. We
are lucky that we had a very good communication channel, so all the
bugs/issues were solved in a very efficient way. Before I integrate the
driver to Solaris source tree, Ekiga's video plugin can already work
very well on usbvc driver.

The most frequently asked question is, which webcams can be supported
by usbvc driver? Theoretically, all USB webcams that compliant to USB
video class spec can be supported. In practice, the following webcams
are tested, their video capture functions work well. Users are
encouraged to report problems if they have chances to use any other
webcams that compliant to the spec. The following list is last updated at Nov. 26, 2007. Please note that some devices have the same names but different IDs.


    Device Name                          Vendor ID, Product ID

Logitech Quickcam Pro 5000                046d,08c5
Logitech Quickcam Pro 5000                046d,08ce
Logitech Quickcam Fusion                  046d,08ca
Logitech Quickcam Orbit MP                046d,08cc
Logitech Quickcam Pro for Notebooks       046d,08cb
Logitech Quickcam Pro for Notebooks       046d,0991
Logitech Quickcam Ultra Vision            046d,08c9
Logitech Quickcam Deluxe for notebooks    046d,09c1
Logitech Quickcam Communicate Deluxe      046d,0992
Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000                046d,0990


The following ones are reported to work. Thanks people for reporting this. Last updated at Apr. 9, 2008


Logitech Quickcam Pro for Notebooks    046d,8c3
Logitech QuickCam Sphere AF               046d,994
HP         Deluxe DC-8872


Issues can be reported to driver-discuss@opensolaris.org or driver-usb@opensolaris.org

About

Colin Zou is a software engineer enjoying improving operating systems. Besides sitting at a computer all day like a dull boy, he also likes hiking and the activities on the beach.

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