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I am looking to mount a webcam to my laptop (which sits at home all day) to act as a security camera.

I'd like to it to write the video to an external hard drive, which I can then review later. It would be awesome if I could schedule when the camera is on or off. Another feature that I want is streaming on the internet or at least ustream.

The problem is that I've never done this, thus I don't know where to start. I've been looking at WebCams - Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD looks good. And I am sure there are others.

The problem is that I can't find any software that would do what I need. Any suggestions for both hardware or software?

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Streaming on the net is probably a good idea, if you're expecting laptop thieves to break in. – David Thornley Dec 7 '09 at 21:08
up vote 11 down vote accepted

here's a tutorial for you:

How to use a webcam as CCTV

you can also use YawCam


Video streaming

Image snapshots

Built-in webserver

Motion detection


Text and image overlays

Password protection

Online announcements for communities

Scheduler for online time

Multi languages

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I use and recommend zoneminder:

ZoneMinder is an integrated set of applications which provide a complete surveillance solution allowing capture, analysis, recording and monitoring of any CCTV or security cameras attached to a Linux based machine. It is designed to run on distributions which support the Video For Linux (V4L) interface and has been tested with video cameras attached to BTTV cards, various USB cameras and IP network cameras. A partial list is given in the Wiki and Support sections, please give feedback in the Forums if it works with yours. ZoneMinder also requires MySQL and PHP, and is enhanced by a webserver such as Apache.

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Remote Witness. I use the really old version though.

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I setup a motion detection security camera system with the "motion" software package in Linux + webcam + tiny 1.2 Ghz arm plug computer. (

It works well for me.

  • Nothing to store if there is no motion.
  • Plug computer is low power < 5 Watts.
  • No need to scan the video or watch for any activities. The pictures files come with time stamp.
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