USB Video Class (UVC) is a USB specification which defines and standardizes video streaming functionality on the Universal Serial Bus. USB video streaming devices (which covers a broad spectrum of possible devices, such as webcams, digital camcorders, ... ) that are compliant to the UVC specification are referred to as UVC devices. A primary benefit brought about by the UVC specification is that UVC compliant peripherals can all be managed by a single generic driver. Under Linux, UVC compliant devices are supported by (brace for it) the [Linux UVC device driver (which may also be referred to as linux-uvc or uvcvideo). Most modern webcams are UVC compliant, which is actually a good thing, because in the past webcam drivers and interfaces were often proprietary (meaning that Linux drivers needed the author to sign an NDA, or to decompile or monitor/sniff USB traffic).
Do you have USB 2.0 controllers on your notebook and desktop? If so, you could benefit from higher resolutions with the Logitech Quickam for Notebooks Pro, Quickcam Fusion and Quickcam Orbit MP. All those webcams are 1.3MP devices and are supported by the linux-uvc driver. Note that the Quickcam for Notebooks Deluxe doesn't fall in that category; it's supported by the gspca driver.
Those 3 webcams also work in USB 1.1 mode, but are then limited to 640x480. In that case, you could go for the Quickcam Pro 5000, which is a 640x480 device supported by the linux-uvc driver.
UVC webcams are well supported, but you must be aware of a few issues.
- The linux-uvc driver is V4L2-only. This means applications which support V4L1 only will not work. V4L1 is officially deprecated, and have been removed from the kernel recently, so most drivers have or will switch to V4L2 anyway.
- The 4 webcams mentioned above compress images in MJPEG for resolutions up to 960x720. This means that applications must be able to decompress MJPEG streams to use the webcam at lower resolutions. Ekiga and motion support MJPEG compression. UVC webcams like the OmniVision OV2640 (built into Dell M1530 and Inspiron laptops) actually *require* MJPEG compression for high resolutions up to 1600x1200, whereas using the standard YUV encoding limits resolution to standard 640x480.
This driver is a major effort to support all sorts of webcams. It consists of a core module (gspca_main) and several sub-drivers.
Its development started with spca5xx support. The original driver used the old V4L 1 API spec. The current driver has support to V4L2 API and is integrated in Kernel.
The gspca has the following sub-drivers:
gspca_conex, gspca_etoms, gspca_finepix, gspca_m5602, gspca_mars, gspca_mr97310a, gspca_ov519, gspca_ov534, gspca_pac207, gspca_pac7311, gspca_sn9c20x, gspca_sonixb, gspca_sonixj, gspca_spca500, gspca_spca501, gspca_spca505, gspca_spca506, gspca_spca508, gspca_spca561, gspca_stk014, gspca_stv06xx, gspca_sunplus, gspca_t613, gspca_tv8532, gspca_vc032x, gspca_zc3xx.
For the list of the currently supported webcams, please see gspca.
Other webcam drivers
(alphabetize by driver)
Many of these are out-of-tree kernel drivers.
- cpia -- first generation of STM's Color Processor Interface (ASIC) Cpia
- Included in mainline kernel
- Supports a large number of USB devices by Aiptek, Creative, Digicom, Dynalink, Ezonics, Intel, Microtek, Pace, SuperCam, TCE, Terracom, Trust, Utobia, ZoomCam
- Supports some parallel port devices by Creative, CVideo, CU-SeeMe, Digicom, and ZoomCam
- cpia2 -- second generation of STM's Color Processor Interface (ASIC)
- Included in mainline kernel from 2.6.18
- Supports the QX5 USB microscope, the Swann Versacam MINI webcam, and other devices using the second generation of STM's Color Processor Interface (ASIC)
- Supports the Videology 20K14XUSB webcam and cameras using Micron mt9v011 and mt9m001 sensors.
- Included in mainline kernel from 2.6.18 (em28xx)
- Supports Etoms ET61X151 or ET61X251-based USB cameras
- Included in mainline kernel
- linux-uvc -- the USB Video Class Linux device driver
- Not included in the kernel (as of 2.6.18), but several distros have ready packages
- Supports several USB2.0 Logitech Quickcams, such as the Orbit MP, the Pro for Notebooks, the Pro 5000, the Dell Notebook, and the Cisco VT Camera II
- m560x -- ALi M560(2/3) driver with various sensors attached
- No properly working driver yet
- meye -- the Sony Vaio PictureBook Motion Eye Camera Driver
- Included in 2.4 and 2.6 kernels -- see documentation
- Supports the second version of the MotionEye camera (PCI vendor/device 0x136b/0xff01)
- A driver for the third version is being written, see r-engine below
- setov511 -- a configuration utility for ov511 based webcams
- pwc -- the new driver
- Aims to support Sony Vaio Picturebooks (model PCG-C1M* and newer, PCI vendor/device 0x10cf/0x2011)
- Supports webcams of the Ricoh family, fails to control brightness, gamma and contrast
- Maybe to be substituted by r5u87x
- Supports webcams based on the sq905 chip, such as Volcano DG640E, Nexxtech Micro Digital Camera, Umax (Yamada) Astranugget; may work with Mito DG640E, Mitek CD10, Mitek 30P, GTW Electronics/ ShuoYing, Industrial(ShenZhen)Co.,Ltd SY-2102, Condord Eye-Q Easy / Eye Q Easy Too, Che-ez Snap, Hercules DualPix, Argus DC-1512, DC-1510, Gear to go, Magpix B350, Jenoptik JD 350, Concord Eye-Q Easy, PockCam
- Sonix SN9C10x
- SN9C* open source Microdia drivers under development
- Shall be equivalent to SN9CXXX below
- SN9CXXX (non-open source)
- Driver for SN9C101, SN9C102, SN9C102P, SN9C103, SN9C105, SN9C110, SN9C120, SN9C201, SN9C202
- for example 0c45:624f from Microdia
- Supports webcams based on Sunplus Sonix Transvision Z-star/Vimicro Conexant Etoms chips
- Supports webcams such as Aiptek Pencam and Digital Dream l'espion
- See the long list of devices
- Aims to support Syntek DC-1125/1135 cams
- stv680 -- SANE backend
- USB Video Class driver
- w9968cf -- included in the kernel
- Supports Winbond W9967CF or W9968CF-based USB cameras
- w9967cf (obsolete)
- Supports the webcam mode of cameras based on the ZR364xx chips from wendors like Aiptek, Concord, Creative, Genius, Maxell, Fujifilm, Ricoh, Pentacon, Mustek, Konica, Umax etc.
- zc0301 -- included in the kernel
- Supports Z-Start/Vimicro ZC0301-based USB cameras
- Video for Linux resources -- has a list of some drivers
- For USB webcams, see also video devices in the USB device overview database
- Logitech QuickCam Team