Skype on Kubuntu Natty (11.04) with video on from a crappy old web camera

I’ve been tinkering around with this all morning. I’ve been googling for terms like

  • skype
  • linux
  • kubuntu
  • gspca
  • sonix
  • gspca_sonixj
  • 0c45:613c Microdia PC Camera (SN9C120)
  • video
  • modprobe
  • lsmod
  • lsusb
  • speedlink

to mostly no avail. I kept finding hits and solution suggestions for older operating systems, or newer cameras. But I pressed on, because I knew this camera was working with applications like the aptly named Cheese (whence the image in this post came), Kopete, and even Google+ Hangouts seemed to work just fine with this cheapo camera (well, aside from its cheapo image quality, that is).

Sooner or later along the way, I hit upon this post by Hitesh Sarda which gave me a hint about starting Skype by setting some environment variables. I tried what he suggested, and that didn’t work for me. But I noticed that in the same folder as the shared object he mentioned, there was another one available.

myuser@linux:/usr/lib/libv4l$ ls
ov511-decomp ov518-decomp v4l1compat.so v4l2convert.so
myuser@linux:/usr/lib/libv4l$

And that v4l2convert.so shared object file does something to make my camera work with Skype. So with a simple shell script, I can start Skype and get the video working:

#!/bin/sh
env LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l2convert.so skype

I suppose most people would have simply upgraded to a newer/better webcam…but not me. Skype needs to catch up with other software companies supporting more varied hardware via open-source platforms out of the box, otherwise they’re going to end up just like Microsoft Internet Explo — oh…uh, never mind.

poolside webcam

The connectivity down at the pool is great, but the screen visibility in
the sun is not. Fortunately, a towel remedies that nicely.

Today we stocked up at the grocery store on our favorites: chorizo,
Malibu, those lime-flavored coated “japones” peanuts, coconut yoghurt.
Tomorrow will probably be a whale watching expedition. Low-key stuff
today was a good idea given the monster travel day yesterday.