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Remote webcam viewing: Ubuntu 3, Gentoo 0

One could argue that boringness is a good attribute for a distro. Gentoo has stayed out of my way for a good long time. I update world once a week and I haven't had a package fail to build or fail to work in a while.

Until a few days ago. I wanted to view video from my laptop's built-in webcam, on my desktop, over my local network. My laptop is running Ubuntu, and my desktop is running Gentoo. One point in favor of Ubuntu, my webcam works without any effort on my fault. It works right on a fresh Ubuntu install off the install CD. I never did get any webcam working on any Gentoo install whenever I've tried over the years. Maybe the situation has rectified itself at this point, but I don't anticipate trying.

Unfortunately, viewing my laptop's feed on my desktop also failed to work. First I tried an X-forwarding SSH tunnel, and running xawtv -remote, but I got all kinds of nasty errors along the lines of

X Error of failed request:  BadWindow (invalid Window parameter)
  Major opcode of failed request:  2 (X_ChangeWindowAttributes)
  Resource id in failed request:  0x1a5
  Serial number of failed request:  55
  Current serial number in output stream:  56

Extensive Googling turned up nothing on this, which isn't surprising given how un-informative an error message this is. Maybe some extension in X needed to be built to get xawtv to work. Maybe it's a version incompatibility. Maybe some hardware thing with my video card driver. Who knows. On the other hand when I tried to view my laptop's feed on another laptop running Ubuntu (actually Kubuntu), it worked fine. Albeit incredibly slowly.

Then I noticed Ekiga comes installed on Ubuntu by default, so I figured I'd try that, in spite of it being a bit overkill. But installing Ekiga on Gentoo died with a build error, because I needed to build pwlib with ldap support. Ekiga between the two Ubuntu laptops worked fine without any effort too, so at that point I gave up on getting it working in Gentoo, since it was no longer worth it.

No big deal, but slightly annoying. Probably could've gotten it to work in Gentoo eventually, but I have less and less patience for fiddling with installation nowadays. This is probably one of the benefits of the sort of mono-culture Ubuntu is turning into. Everyone using Ubuntu has the same basic crap installed. Whereas there's probably no one in the world with a Gentoo install quite like mine.

But Gentoo is still working well for me overall.

January 31, 2009 @ 10:04 AM PST
Cateogory: Linux
Tags: Gentoo, Ubuntu

3 Comments

Betelgeuse
Quoth Betelgeuse on January 31, 2009 @ 7:41 PM PST

If you find something that fails because you need to change use flag settings, then you should file a bug to http://bugs.gentoo.org asking the maintainers to migrate the ebuild to EAPI 2 to be able to use use deps. Then emerge will tell you to change the use flags right when it starts.

Brian
Quoth Brian on February 01, 2009 @ 6:26 AM PST

Oh, OK. I wasn't aware that was considered a bug nowadays.

LucasRay
Quoth LucasRay on February 25, 2009 @ 3:17 AM PST

A similar problem prosented itself when I tried remotly viewing via a windows based computer. I was linking through VNC. The desk top is in my complete control however I can not view the contents of the web cam. I recon it's on account of my free version of VNC but...