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How to activate the webcam using the terminal on Linux?

Hey, folks, in this pretty short post I’ll show you a pretty useful trick. In this post, you will learn how to activate the webcam using the terminal.

We all have a webcam, whether it’s professional or just to get the job done. And to use it you just need to use some specialized graphic programs like Cheese. However, using the terminal can be a good solution in many cases such as the remote desktop.

Activating the Webcam using the Terminal

Well, for this little tutorial, first you have to install VLC. I think this should not be a problem because VLC is the most popular media player there is. So it’s most likely already installed on your system.

In case, you can install it from the official repositories of your Linux distribution:

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If you use Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, ElementaryOS or any derivative:

:~$ sudo apt install vlc

In case you use OpenSUSE:

:~$ sudo zypper in vlc

For Fedora, RHEL 8, CentOS 8:

:~$ sudo dnf install vlc

VLC is a marvel and allows us to play almost any multimedia file. And we can even use it to use our webcam.

The first and only requirement you have to meet is to make sure your webcam is fully functional. If you have used them without problems, then this will work. If not, then you have to solve the problem and try again.

So, open a terminal and run the following command:

:~$ cvlc v4l2:///dev/video0

And just like that, a VLC screen will open with the image captured from your WebCam. That’s how simple it is.

Remember that if you have several webcams then you can change video0 for video1 and so on.

On the other hand, remember to close the process using CTRL + C because otherwise, you will not be able to use the webcam with another program.

In the last case, you can use a program like htop and kill the process manually using the PID.


It’s always a good idea to have these tricks handy, in case we ever need them. Anyway, Linux is a pretty customizable system has these many. Now, you know how to enable the webcam using the Terminal. It is a great trick.

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