Webcam in Linux on Sony VGN-BX61MN

For anyone interested in using linux on this laptop, the following should be of help. The camera is labeled as Motion Eye but lsusb reports the device as:

05ca:1839 Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC6 [R5U870]

After alot of messing around and installing defunct kernel modules, that seem to work, but actually include the wrong firmware versions. I found that the work being done by Alex Hixon on a generic R5U87x driver to be the most up to date. Previously the project rolled its own kernel module to support the camera, However the current version works by providing userspace tools to upload firmware to the device so that the standard uvcvideo driver in the kernel can communicate with the camera.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much around in the way of a howto to explain how to use the code. So I had to figure out the following for myself.

First of all install mercurial and some other project dependencies

sudo apt-get install mercurial libglib2.0-dev libusb-dev

Now you can download the source

hg clone http://bitbucket.org/ahixon/r5u87x/

Change into the source directory and issue the following three commands.

cd r5u87x
make
make rules
sudo make install

If your user isn’t part of the video group you will probably have to modify /etc/group and make yourself a member of that group otherwise you might experience Permission Denied errors.

After you have rebooted you can test using mplayer

mplayer tv:// -tv driver=v4l2

Also make sure you can record because uploading the wrong firmware will in some cases allow you to see output but not record it.

mencoder tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:device=/dev/video0 -nosound -ovc lavc -o test.avi

If you want to clean things up afterwards you can run the following commands
sudo apt-get --purge remove mercurial libglib2.0-dev libusb-dev
sudo apt-get --purge autoremove
rm -r r5u87x

You may find the above steps also work for the following devices:

05ca:1830 Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC2 [R5U870]
05ca:1832 Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC3 [R5U870]
05ca:1833 Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC2 [R5U870]
05ca:1834 Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC2 [R5U870]
05ca:1835 Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC5 [R5U870]
05ca:1836 Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC4 [R5U870]
05ca:1837 Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC4 [R5U870]
05ca:1839 Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC6 [R5U870]
05ca:183a Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC7 [R5U870]
05ca:183b Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC8 [R5U870]
05ca:183e Ricoh Co., Ltd Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC9 [R5U870]

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