Web cam testing using Cheese
At The Working Centre’s Computer Recycling Project we build both Linux and Windows (through Microsoft’s Registered Refurbisher program) computers for the Kitchener, Ontario community. As a community tools project we care a lot about freedom and free software principles. So when hardware comes in we often test to see if that hardware is compatible with free software.
From time to time we get web cams donated. Testing these web cams for Linux-compatibility makes sense for us on a number of levels:
1. We sell computers with Linux installed on them (from as little as $35 for a complete Pentium 4 class computer).
2. We use Linux on most of our computers within the lab/shop.
3. Our volunteers get more experience with hardware under Linux and can see the range of equipment Linux supports.
4. Testing hardware allows us to contribute back to the free software community.
Special effects in Cheese
To test web cams we use Cheese, which was created as part of the 2007 Google Summer of Code using the Gstreamer framework. It supports a number of cool special effects including:
Creating a bulging looking photo, dicing up a photo (which looks neat if you’re wearing a striped shirt), edge (makes everything look like it’s embossed with black), flip (which just reverses the orientation of the picture), heat (which looks like infrared – neat for movie effects), historical (think greyscale with an aged filmstrip effect), hulk makes you green and purple, and kaleidescope which gives a triangular twist to the image.
Cheese can also take video, but we’ve found the videos it takes to be really choppy when compared with other programs supporting web cams (like Skype). Cheese is really first and foremost a photo booth, and like most Linux programs it does a good job of taking pictures.
Cheese can also shoot burst shots, several shots quickly one after another. We used this technique once to illustrate how to take apart a notebook computer (hundreds of photos we turned into a movie using other software).