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In windows I can open "My Computer" and click on the "Webcam" icon to get a feed from my webcam. I can also take snapshots of that feed.

Can I do the same in Ubuntu? Without installing any extra applications like Photobooth.

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mplayer tv://device=/dev/video – Stefan Oct 20 '10 at 7:13
@Stefan: can you? that's too simple! – phunehehe Oct 20 '10 at 8:47
"Without installing any extra applications". That's a pretty weird and severe constraint. I would just install something like cheese. – Wim Coenen Oct 20 '10 at 9:43
@phunene, well it works for me.... sometimes – Stefan Oct 20 '10 at 13:40
@phunehehe: Yes, we can ;-) – echox Oct 20 '10 at 17:36
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Since you want an answer "without installing any extra applications like Photobooth," I've tried to give a solution that doesn't depend on very much. Also I'm assuming that your webcam uses "Video4Linux2" and that it is /dev/video0. If this is a modern webcam and if you only have one, these are pretty good assumptions.

From the command line:

$ gst-launch-0.10 v4l2src device=/dev/video0 ! xvimagesink

Note that "v4l2src" contains a lowercase L and not the number 1. On your system the command may be gst-launch or something starting with gst-launch but with a different version number. Tab completion should help you find the exact command name. This tool is in the gstreamer0.10-tools package on my Ubuntu system, which is a dependency of libgstreamer, which is a dependency of a large number of the apps on my Ubuntu system and is likely present in the default installation.

Other Applications

If you don't mind installing other applications, here is how you can do this in a few other applications. All of them can easily be installed via apt-get or another package manager of your choosing:

  • VLC: $ vlc v4l2:///dev/video0 Also, you can do this from the VLC GUI by going to File->Open Capture Device
  • mplayer: mplayer tv://device=/dev/video01 (from Stefan in the comments)
  • Cheese: This is a photobooth-like app that is very simple to use.
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