It will rise again!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 13:51 | Posted in computer, linux, skype, ubuntu | 7 Comments

This blog had its first ever birthday on Sunday which I meant to celebrate by writing a little summary of this first year. However, the problems caused by Logitech’s failure to recognize that there is such a thing as freeware escalated to a situation where my computer crashed altogether. In 36 hours I have managed to restore much of what I had built up during these last two months.

As far as still images are conserned, I can tell that there is more of a problem with both the photographer and the model (in one person) than the camera. Then again, I knew it from start that the camera is good per se. The problem is with making it run under Linux.

Sound Recorder, Audacity and Skype all worked satisfactory in my system before I bought the camera. My only michrophone was that in the Skype start kit and it was enough for the calls but it failed to record audio files with acceptable quality. That was the main reason I decided to buy Logitech Quickcam Connect. I was hoping to get a better sound quality and anything in images and video would be an extra bomus.

As “could_be_anyone” points out in these two comments, the only driver to work in Linux with this camera is “gspca” developed by Michel Xhaard. I must have done something terribly wrong with my first installation since the pictures were really horrible. I managed to get a few barely acceptable shots with Camorama but the worse thing was that Skype went totally out of voices. At one point Audacity could play but not record while Sound Recorder acted the other way round.

I browsed tens of HowTo’s and forum threads, all giving contradicting advise. At one point on late Sunday evening I was frustrated for being prompted for my password to execute all those sudo commands so I made the big mistake of making myself root with sudo -s. At one point I must have entered something in totally wrong order because I discovered that I know longer had sudo privilidges in my own system. The system even returned my sudo command with an error message: “This incident will be reported”.

This would not have been a catastrophy if my system had worked even satisfactory in most essential parts. But since I absolutely needed to get my act together, there was nothing else to do than installing Ubuntu again. I did not have to worry about my data because everything of importance is in web servers. What annoyed me really hard is that I had built up a pretty nice software environment during my two months as a Linux user. Now I have to rebuild it from scratches.

Having worked all night I was able to say this morning that I am almost were I was before Logitech QuickCam Connect made its stormy entry to my household. Almost but not quite.

Unlike this thread suggests, I was unable to install the driver by executing Michel’s script after tarballing the compressed file, apparently because my headers are too old. I have Ubuntu 6.06 while most of the people talking in the thread seem to have Edgy. I went basically after this HowTo although I had to make quite a lot of editing in the commands but the general idea of how to install the driver is right for me.

So as it stands now, I could get better still pictures with Camorama after some practice and indeed motivation: who would like to shoot pictures of themselves with my face? In Ekiga Softphone I had surprisingly good video quality but I was unable to get any audio in that environment. Sound Recorder is totally useless at the moment while Audacity can play but not record.

The good news today is that I managed to get Skype back to work. It recognizes the camera as michrophone with ALSA selected as the audio system. The device drivers are “USB device 0x46d:0x8d9” for “Audio in” (that is the camera) and SiS SI7012 for both “Audio out” and “Ringing”. Those are the only settings that allow me to talk and listen at the same time. No video or even still image from the webcam is present but I think that fault is mainly in Skype’s end. They do not release their codes and protocols for the freeware developers either and they have taken more than their time to introduce Linux versions of their software.

There is one major problem to solve before I am able to say that my system has recovered the collapse. Before the crash I used to have very well working Firefox plug ins that allowed me to see and hear most of the web content I wanted. Now I can absolutely not remember how I managed to install and plug Flash. MPlayer works fairly on its own but not as a plug in. I may have to uninstall it and start all over again but I have no idea at this moment how the Flash is supposed to be fixed.

The bottom line is that Logitech QuickCam Connect has brought me a slightly better quality in Skype calls and there is a potential with the still images but it has definitely broken more than it has fixed. Makes one frustrated to think about Windows users who get everything installed with a couple of dummy clicks. Should they not be paying more for the camera? After all, we have to do all the work ourselves but get less in exchange.



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  1. […] More shameless remarks by Larko My voice in the Web – about anything and everything, sometimes even nothing « It will rise again! […]

  2. hi again,

    nice to here that your system is up and running again. I also find the option in the kernel to include the snd_usb_audio module. I make a “modprobe -v snd_usb_audio”, started skype and wanted to call the testservice after that my complete gentoo-linux hangs. I just could turn it off by pressing the power button.
    Today I modprobed the video (gspac) and audio module again and I have a sound. But this sound wich can I listen in skype is very terrible. But I have to try out more recording programs like ffmpeg and sox.

    I installed camorama, very funny this tool with its filters.
    So I add a few lines for the console which works for me quite good.

    Watch Video:
    mplayer tv:// -tv driver=v4l:device=/dev/video0:width=352:height=288

    Record Video:
    mencoder tv:// -tv driver=v4l:device=/dev/video0:width=352:height=288:
    outfmt=rgb24:alsa:amode=1:adevice=hw.1:volume=100 -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vbitrate=900 -oac mp3lame -lameopts cbr:br=64 -o output.avi

    Take these two codings each in one line! The audio was mute by recording the video…

  3. Akismet seems to have caught your comment to the mod queue, sorry about that. It must have mixed that coding with spam.

    I tried quickly those lines in the terminal and recieved loads of error messages. I’ll have a closer look at that later. Now I have more urgent repairing to do.

    I’ll probably have to do quite a lot of configuring with the Mplayer as I also want it as a Firefox plugin. Probably also need to compose some coding in my system parameters. One thing I detected this morning was that Skype drops my audio settings each time I boot the system which suggests that there is something in Linux boot that forces Skype to change my settings.

    Does the bad audio quality in your Skype appear in the test call or calls with your friends? It could also be something in the other end but not in case you have bad audio in the test call.

  4. i had the bad audio with the test call. but i tried the microphone which was send in box with the usb-webcam. and I plug this in my 3 soundcard microphone plug-socket (VIA Chip onboard, Sigmatel chip PCI, Hauppauge Videocard PCI) and I also had the bad result with the test-call in skype.
    So I think I have to set up my ALSA driver again, but I installed like on my laptop where the microphone (the 2nd one to the webcam) work very good!

    the mplayer-plugin for firefox seem to be easy to add this. In my gentoo-system I just needed to install the package “mplayerplug-in” and it works quite good.

  5. ok I tested it on my notebook and the video and sound in skype works perfectly. So in my case there is a problem with the sound configuration to the desktop pc.

    and also the command for record video and sound with mencoder is fantastic on the laptop. don’t use the option “volume=100” together “driver=v4l”. USE it with the v4l2 driver! Or “driver=v4l and volume=65000” — see the man page for mplayer.

    I have one soundcard in the laptop so I needed to set:
    amode=1 — stereo
    adevice=hw.1 — second device in alsa
    AND the “forceaudio” option –>
    alsa:amode=1:adevice=hw.1:forceaudio (for audio recording in mencoder)

    If mencoder doesn’t work I guess there is a problem with the codecs. I use a mpeg4 codec with the mp3 library “lame” as you can see above.

    So I have to patch my desktop…
    I wish I had so much freetime like you to play with my linux… 🙂

    Regards, could_be_anyone

  6. Thanks, I’ll look at it closer tomorrow. Finally got the flash plugin for Firefox working. I must have installed it about ten times and gotten O.K from Terminal every time but it still did not work. I did it the same way for an 11th time and it went through. 😉

  7. […] is rising As you may or may not remember, my Linux Ubuntu system collapsed a week ago as a result of my hopeless efforts to make my webcam […]

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