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My laptop, ThinkPad R61i, does not have a built-in webcam. If I buy a generic webcam, can I install it on Ubuntu 12.04? I googled around and a blog post said Cheese is one of the best webcam softwares in Ubuntu. Would Cheese and other webcam softwares be able to work with an external webcam?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Ubuntu, thanks to the Linux Kernel supports many MANY types of webcam. There is NO need to install any drivers from any CD they come with (Even so if the CD comes just for Windows in almost all cases). You should be fine just connecting it.

If you would like to try the webcam out in Ubuntu, it is as easy as connecting it to your PC and then install the program cheese, either from the Software Center or via the terminal by executing the following line: sudo apt-get install cheese. Then just open dash and type cheese, run the cheese program and see how it works out of the box.

I have tested at least 10 different webcams ranging from Logitech, Sony, Genius, HP and even several Chinese odd ones with names I don't really remember..

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Just as a bit of comic relief, I will add that cheese also worked with a Windows branded webcam that we had lying around. – TrailRider Jun 18 '12 at 4:08
I was meaning to try that out someday. Well there you have it, compatible even with Windows and "Doors" edition. – Luis Alvarado Jun 18 '12 at 11:03

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