Home surveillance with Linux and Zoneminder made easy – Part II

My last post I gave a quick overview of my hardware (PC, camera and capture card) that I was using on my surveillance system. This post I will explain what OS and software I use.

My operating system of choice for this ‘project’ was SUSE. The initial reason was that learning Linux is (in my opinion) a bit easier because if I got stuck with the command line, I could always fall back (ie cheat) with the GUI which I found quite comfortable to use. Other Linux distros I had difficulty using. I am currently using SUSE 10.2 – a vast improvement over 9.3 which I previously used on another one of my boxes at home.

Next was the software. As I said in my previous post, I had troubles getting windows drivers to work, and when that was sorted out, I could not find any suitable software (for my needs anyway). The PICO2000 software looks like what I was after, but as I wanted to use/learn Linux, I found a great product called Zoneminder.

First looks at Zoneminder indicated that that it was a popular (and free) piece of software, great support and very customizable for your own needs. What the hell – I’ll give it a go.

I first installed Zoneminder a couple of years back all via the CLI – not a problem if you are conversant with the file structure of Linux, TAR etc. But it was a steep learning curve for me. I worked it all out in the end, but an easier way (if you’re using SUSE) is to install the RPM using YaST. Here is the link for the SUSE RPMs. The beauty of doing it via YaST is that it can resolve your dependancies for you, so all the appropriate packages can be installed in one hit.

Anyway, I installed it without too many hassles. Next post I will show you some of the features and my setup.

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    • Joe
    • March 29, 2008


    I am building a zoneminder system too, after having just built a MythTV system I have a taste for these great linux based systems.

    I have bought the same DVR card as you, a usb camera and am currently looking for a camera like yours on ebay.

    One thing confuses me though, how does that camera see in the dark? Do those LEDs just illuminate the target area like a torch would? or is there something more intelligent at work?


    • indi
    • March 29, 2008

    The LEDs do not illuminate, but sense on any available light, and you find find by playing with the camera, work of light reflecting off light coloured surfaces (if that makes sense).

    Or to put it another way, they won’t work in full darkness, but require a bit of light (and don’t expect great viewing distances). A LOT of tweaking is required to get these working to their optimum – which doesn’t bother me too much as this was originally intended to be a ‘project’.

    Let me say that they are not the best camera out there, but for the price you can’t really complain.

    • Joe
    • March 30, 2008

    Thanks for getting back to me. yes this is a project for me too. Sounds good so far. I will probably only be connecting two cameras to the dvr card to get a good framerate.

    Looks like I have almost the same spec PC as you.

    good resources:




    I went for the LabTec Pro webcam. It seems to be of the highest quality recorded on the above website, is compatible with linux and cost only £14 incluing delivery form Play.com.

    Im interested to know how you get on with this! I cant really start as noe of the hardware has arrived yet.


    • joe
    • April 7, 2008

    Got it set up and working with the usb camera, quite simple really. cool stuff. Can keep an eye on stuff wherever i am through my phones web browser.


    • joe
    • April 10, 2008

    Got my night vision camera. It has 30 LEDS, and can see perfectly in COMPLETE darkness!!

    • indi
    • April 10, 2008

    Was it from EBAY?
    Do you have a link for the camera? I’d like to compare specs to my one.

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