Raspberry Pi webcam

*** UPDATE NOTE: I am now using Motion instead of ffserver see this new post: Battery powered, Wireless, Motion detecting Raspberry Pi ***

Here's a walk-through of the steps I took to get a webcam stream on the Internet from my Raspberry Pi.

 Raspberry Pi
 8G class 4 Sandisk SD card
 5V 1A MicroUSB power supply
 Ethernet cable
 HDMI cable
 USB keyboard
 Webcam (PS3 EyeToy)

Prepare the OS
 Arch Linux ARM - you can get the image file from the Raspberry Pi download page.
 Write the image to the SD card. (I use Win32DiskImager)
 Expand the main partition to fill the SD card. From my Windows laptop I booted to a GParted Live CD to do this.

Go headless
 Change the root password!

passwd root
 Set up a fixed IP address. (You may need to change your router settings to define a fixed IP address range) Edit /etc/rc.conf using nano:
nano /etc/rc.conf
 Follow the instructions to set up your fixed IP something like this:
 Also change resolv.conf to use your router for name resolution:
 Since this Pi is running headless we don't need so much RAM allocated to the GPU. So swap the default start.elf for the 224 version:
cd /boot
mv start.elf orig-start.elf
cp arm224_start.elf start.elf
 Unplug the keyboard and HDMI, reboot and then ssh to your Pi. (I use PuTTY)

Start streaming
 Update your packages and install mplayer and ffmpeg:

pacman -Syu
pacman -S mplayer
pacman -S ffmpeg
 Create an ffserver.conf configuration file in /root. Here's mine:
Port 8090 
MaxClients 4
MaxBandwidth 10000 

<Feed webcam.ffm> 
File /tmp/webcam.ffm 
FileMaxSize 5M 

<Stream webcam.asf> 
Feed webcam.ffm 
Format asf 
VideoCodec msmpeg4 
VideoFrameRate 2
VideoBufferSize 80000 
VideoBitRate 200 
VideoQMin 1 
VideoQMax 10 
VideoSize qvga
PreRoll 0 

<Stream webcam.mjpeg>
Feed webcam.ffm
Format mpjpeg
VideoSize qvga
VideoFrameRate 2
Strict -1
 Start the streaming server:
ffserver -f /root/ffserver.conf & ffmpeg -v 2 -r 5 -s 640x480 -f video4linux2 -i /dev/video0 http://localhost:8090/webcam.ffm
 You should now have two streams available from your Raspberry Pi. One is an asf stream which you can connect to from players like Windows Media Player or VLC. The other is an mjpeg stream which you can view from a web browser without requiring any plugins.
 The mjpeg URL is:
 The asf stream is:

Put it on the Internet
If you just want to see this on the Internet temporarily simply open up port 8090 on your home router firewall settings. Set up an Inbound Service on port 8090 to Now find your external ip address and you should be able to connect through that. Your external address will probably be shown somewhere in your router web interface or you can find it by going to here: http://ip.dnsexit.com/
Your external address will change occasionally unless you have a fixed IP address. In another post I'll show how to set up Dynamic DNS with an address updater so you can reach your Pi on the net through a name rather than address. The updater ensures that if your external address changes the Dynamic DNS provider is given the new one.

*** UPDATE NOTE: I am now using Motion instead of ffserver see this new post: Battery powered, Wireless, Motion detecting Raspberry Pi ***

My Raspberry Pi webcam stream is sometimes available here: http://jerbly.uk.to/picam
Please be gentle. If you don't see a stream try again another time!


Nick said...

How did you get the Eyetoy to play nicely with the pi? Did you have to compile drivers? I'm trying a xbox live camera in debian with no success yet.

jerbly said...

Nick, I'm using Arch Linux ARM and it worked right out of the box. No problems - no compilation required.

Nick said...

I suppose the beauty of the raspi is that I can create a separate SD card with Arch to experiment with that too. I'll give it a go. You should put your findings on the wiki as a compatible peripheral.

jerbly said...

I've updated the wiki: http://elinux.org/RPi_VerifiedPeripherals#USB_Webcam

Anonymous said...

I think the Debian pi distro's kernel doesn't have the uvc module that's usually required.

Cappertil said...

Thanks for writing this Jeremy - you've probably saved me a few hours of my life. Didn't work first time for me (don't know why - motion could see /video0 but couldn't get images from it) but I created a fresh SD and it's running Microsoft life cam cinema with motion with no problems.

can't handle the full 1280 x 720 in motion... but when you spend £20 on a computer....

Anonymous said...

Hey Jeremy,
first thanks for this great Blog Post, but i'm still facing some problems.
I use the same equipment as you.
I start the stream like you. Then i connect via vlc to the asf stream. The stream runs no, but on Rasp it'S throwing:"Codec for stream 0 does not use global headers but container format requires global headers
" Sometimes it doesn't even work. The mpeg stream on browser doesnt work at all.
Do you have any idea why?

Anonymous said...

HI All;

this might be crazy, but what if I would hook up another webcam? would I be able to create two streams?

jerbly said...

@Anonymous (1): I get that warning sometimes but it doesn't stop anything working. Sorry.

jerbly said...

@Anonymous (2): I guess you could try two webcams but streaming from both might stretch the Raspberry Pi a bit! ffmpeg is CPU hungry - take a look at top when you're streaming. I assume the second webcam would show up as /dev/video1.

Nick said...

Hi Jeremy,
I managed to get it working tonight for my xbox live camera. I used Arch with
mjpg_streamer -i "input_uvc.so -d /dev/video0" -o "output_http.so -p 8092 -w www"

I'll see if it is stable enough over the next 24 hours and maybe get the camera on a website like you have.

inevu said...

Hey Jeremy!
Awesome tutorial! I was wondering... would I be able to send real time video at at least 14FPS through WiFi on the same network with the setup you mention here? Thank you very much for sharing this information!

BPK said...

Thanks for this Jeremy, I want to try and get a WebCam working with the pi. I followed your instructions but got stuck. I posted what happened on The R Pi forum any ideas appreciated

Peter Cock said...

I'm hoping to use a Raspberry Pi with the 'motion' software for my bird box webcams e.g. http://astrobeano.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/xbox-birdbox-mk-iii.html

I guess the good thing about not having my Raspberry Pi yet it other folk can sort out some of the road bumps in using it with a webcam - thank you!

Andrej said...


I have found your article very interesting.

I have an issue: there is no video in my /dev

I have followed your steps... I use an old Philips web cam

If some one can tell me what do to about it I would be very great full.

Thank you,


JT said...

Hey Jeremy,

I want to try your tutorial (for creating a babymonitor with a Raspberry Pi)

What kind of webcam would you adivice? (I will buying it new).

Many thanks in advance and great blog!


jerbly said...

@JT Take a look at my Raspberry Pi page where I list all the equipment I've used so far.

pokmon said...


I follow your instructions. I got this message:"
libv4l2: error allocating conversion buffer". I need solutions for my problem. Thank you all!!

Bill Smith said...

@Pokmon what webcam are you using?

lazycurler said...

I am using an xbox live webcam and am getting the same libv412 error

jerbly said...

@lazycurler @pokmon Are you using Arch or Raspbian? This setup was all done with Arch.

jerbly said...

FYI: I've just set up the new raspbian wheezy distro with the PS3 camera and motion. It works. Just:
sudo apt-get install motion

pokmon said...

@Bill Smith I tray with Logitech C310HD and 2 others webcams. Everytime I got this "
libv4l2: error allocating conversion buffer" error. I using last ARCH version. Thans for ideas!

Anonymous said...

It worked for me also but only on Arch. On Raspian i couldn't, motion still works great. I decided to use motion becouse it consume less ram, I still need some for 3g module, I'll describe all on my blog: http://sudoxanthippe.wordpress.com

T3ITGuy said...

Hi Jeremy,

This is a great tutorial, but I'm having an issue when I try to run the ffmpeg and ffserver. I get:

libv4l2: error allocating conversion buffer

I'm using a Microsoft LifeCam Cinema attached to a powered hub. It works fine under motion, but motion doesn't give me the live stream quality that I want. any thoughts?

Albert Nadal Garriga said...

Jeremy, this is a really interesting post. RaspberryPi + webcam + ffmpeg = very useful product. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

When I enable ffserver I get the error "Segmentation fault". Any suggestions how to fix it?

lazycurler said...

@jeremy Using arch

lazycurler said...

@jeremy Using arch

drmaq said...

Have you considered doing time lapse stills

Peter TurĨan said...

thank you for article. I have bought webcam on ebay:
and works perfectly with arch linux&motion!

AdrianH said...

Just a quick question trying the Raspbian Wheezy image that is now the default RPI basic download.

I am downloading ffmpeg, but is the mplayer used for when web serving?


Oscark said...

Thanks for an inspiring and very nice raspberry project site!
Just got my raspberry up and run. I was hoping to use mine allmost like you, but I dont need the motion and webserver etc, just wantet that the raspberry with turn Microsoft HD usb cam into network cam. I then use another software (blueiris) to controll the motion and webserver part. But sadly i discovered that my skills is far away when it comes to linux. Do you think that in the future it will come ready configured sd cards for the use I need?

jerbly said...

@AdrianH mplayer is not used for web serving. To be honest I have had most success with Motion for serving mjpeg on the internet. I have recently tried this with the latest Raspbian and it works fine.

Anonymous said...

anyone gets ffserver/ffmpeg running on raspbian? I got "Segmentation fault".

ffmpeg 0.8.2-6:0.8.2-1+rpi1+b1
Linux raspberrypi 3.1.9+ #168 PREEMPT Sat Jul 14 18:56:31 BST 2012 armv6l GNU/Linux

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeremy,

This is a great tutorial, but I'm having an issue when I try to run the ffmpeg and ffserver. I get:

libv4l2: error allocating conversion buffer

I'm using a Microsoft LifeCam Cinema. Any thoughts? Thanks

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - on Raspian I get a seg fault.

On Arch I get the libv4l2: error allocating conversion buffer

I am using an old Logitech webcam I had lying around. Unfortunately I have no solutions and googling that allocation error doesn't bring up much help.

Nathaniel said...

I got "error allocating conversion buffer" message too.

Logitech QuickCam Messenger(very old)
@Arch Linux

Andrzej said...

Yeah, I've got same problem at Raspbian as you guys. I've got a Logitech webcam and the same "segmentation fault".

Anonymous said...

I too have followed this exactly and am getting the error
libv4l2: error allocating conversion buffer

I am using the eye toy camera, I got the exact same camera as i thought by doing so i would not get any problems! but problems exist......

I tried several times on different sd cards and always the same!


Anonymous said...

hi, andrew again, here is what happens when i try and start the ffserver

[root@alarmpi ~]# ffserver -f /root/ffserver.conf & ffmpeg -v 2 -r 5 -s 640x480 -f video4linux2 -i /dev/video0 http://localhost:8090/webcam.ffm
[1] 372
ffserver version 0.11.1 Copyright (c) 2000-2012 the FFmpeg developers
built on Jul 9 2012 21:58:39 with gcc 4.7.1
configuration: --prefix=/usr --enable-libmp3lame --enable-libvorbis --enable-libxvid --enable-libx264 --enable-libvpx --enable-libtheora --enable-libgsm --enable-libspeex --enable-postproc --enable-shared --enable-x11grab --enable-libopencore_amrnb --enable-libopencore_amrwb --enable-libschroedinger --enable-libopenjpeg --enable-librtmp --enable-libpulse --enable-libv4l2 --enable-gpl --enable-version3 --enable-runtime-cpudetect --disable-debug --disable-static
libavutil 51. 54.100 / 51. 54.100
libavcodec 54. 23.100 / 54. 23.100
libavformat 54. 6.100 / 54. 6.100
libavdevice 54. 0.100 / 54. 0.100
libavfilter 2. 77.100 / 2. 77.100
libswscale 2. 1.100 / 2. 1.100
libswresample 0. 15.100 / 0. 15.100
libpostproc 52. 0.100 / 52. 0.100
libv4l2: error allocating conversion buffer
[root@alarmpi ~]#

Anonymous said...

Andrew again...

is there any chance of getting a image file of your working sd card?

its a good guide, just disapointed i cant get it to work, it would be ideal if it worked

Anonymous said...

I have just tried it on raspbian as cant get it working on arch and i too get the "segmentation fault"

just dont know what to do next!!

and the raspberry pi was designed for schoolkids to do programming on and none of us can get any current packages working on any operating system, very fustrating!! i must be so stupid!


pi@raspberrypi ~ $ sudo ffserver -f /root/ffserver.conf & ffmpeg -v 2 -r 5 -s 640x480 -f video4linux2 -i /dev/video0 http://localhost:8090/webcam.ffm
[1] 1682
avserver version 0.8.2-6:0.8.2-1+rpi1+b1, Copyright (c) 2000-2011 the Libav developers
built on Jun 27 2012 01:07:05 with gcc 4.6.3
Segmentation fault
pi@raspberrypi ~ $

Anonymous said...

I had the same experience both on Arch and on Raspbian...
The webcam is a PS3 and it goes (I tried to take some photo with fswebcam).

Anonymous said...

Hello jeremy you wrote ps3 eyetoy camera but ps3's camera is called eye.The eyetoy camera is the ps2 camera so which of the two cameras you use?

Manny said...

Yeah I'm having the same problem with "Codec for stream 0 does not use global headers but container format requires global headers" whenever I try to connect to the stream with VLC. I followed all of the instructions, and here is my log:

libavutil 51. 73.101 / 51. 73.101
libavcodec 54. 59.100 / 54. 59.100
libavformat 54. 29.104 / 54. 29.104
libavdevice 54. 2.101 / 54. 2.101
libavfilter 3. 17.100 / 3. 17.100
libswscale 2. 1.101 / 2. 1.101
libswresample 0. 15.100 / 0. 15.100
libpostproc 52. 0.100 / 52. 0.100
libv4l2: error allocating conversion buffer
[root@alarmpi ~]# Codec for stream 0 does not use global headers but container format requires global headers

Unknown said...

Jeremy, this has been a great break into linux project with the Pi. I have already learned a lot, thanks. My problem is getting audio to run as well. I want to use the pi as a baby monitor and in this case audio is more important. Any direction in getting the audio working would be great.

Anonymous said...

@Manny: To fix the global headers issue, I put this in my ffserver.conf: AVOptionVideo flags +global_header

That got rid of that error. Now I just get the [video4linux2,v4l2 @ 0x1d77540] mmap: Cannot allocate memory
/dev/video0: Cannot allocate memory error.

Nathan said...

I've found a solution to the memory allocation issues at:


Anonymous said...

Dear Jeremy,

could you show me the command to set up the inbound service on port 8090 to