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tribalmasters 06-13-2006 05:02 AM

Linux CCTV solution
I have searched the forums but couldn't really find much information on this. We have been having trouble with gypsies coming on site and stealing property so my boss would like a cheap security camera system installed. We already have one in the reception, its just a basic USB Logitech thing that goes through the wall to an XP box which runs a webserver to show its pictures.

So I was thinking that a Linux box could have the cameras attached to it, it would record motion capture to its hard disk for evidence should the police get involved and send the video to a web browser so anyone can watch and be easy to use and set up! I have had a brief look at Zoneminder which looks good. Also, what Linux distro is best for this sort of thing?

Or is it worth spending the extra money on dedicated network cameras?

unSpawn 06-13-2006 07:13 AM

We have been having trouble with gypsies coming on site and stealing property
I would like to think "innocent until proven guilty" holds true no matter what no matter where. So, unless you have clear and undisputable proof of evidence of someone trespassing who has been convicted in a Court of Law, or if you have caught someone redhandedly, I would like you to consider rephrasing this part.

what Linux distro is best for this sort of thing?
Nothing distro-specific in this task I can see.

Or is it worth spending the extra money on dedicated network cameras?
IP cams are quite cheap these days, it's dedicated hardware and there's the advantage of easy configurability. If there's functionality in those IP cams a GNU/Linux+webcam setup can't give you, and you don't mind shelling out for it, then by all means go that way.

Finally for some taxonomy if I may: your questions aren't about Linux security in general or a problem with security aspects of a certain application. Your questions are not even about physical security, but about choosing a distro, setting up one and choosing CCTV software. I would like to think splitting questions and posting them in Linux - Distributions, Linux - General and Linux - Software would be a better approach.

tribalmasters 06-13-2006 07:36 AM

OK I think an IP camera is the way to go - the boss has just admitted we need night vision so its going to be the --EDIT--maybe--EDIT cheapest solution. Ohh and we did catch the gypsies red handed once and thanks to information from other companies close by, they tend to come up onto the industrial estate at night but now there is no one on site at the weekends and holidays.

One more question though, I notice normal colour television cameras with night vision and designed for outdoors are quite cheap, how about the capture cards?

ledow 06-13-2006 07:45 AM

Run Knoppix.

Plug Camera in.

Run Xawtv.

If it works, it'll show up and give an image. If not, buy two cheapie WinTV cards (bt848 or bt878) and slap them in a >1GHz machine and connect them to "real" cameras (can be done for 100 all-in)

If all is well and good, load up a distro and slap something like motion ( onto it and it'll monitor the camera for movement and email any movement as pictures or (if you set it up) MPEG's to an off-site email address.

This is NOT a plug-and-play thing though. Motion is horribly documented and quite finicky. I have it up and running for two cameras and it works perfectly, when you do eventually get it working (I had to compile my own version of FFMPEG and play with the threshold and image masks, firewalls, scripts etc. for about 5 hours to get it perfect). 24-hours-a-day, the Linux machine just sits there churning away at the images. Every movement above a certain threshold is captured, logged, pictures are saved and movies created and emailled to a Gmail account. We can even access the camera remotely over a HTTP interface.

However, the suitability of this as evidence is one of those dubious legal grey-areas. Speaking for the UK, you have to be careful of running into the Data Protection Act if you are using the camera for anything over than basic building security (e.g. watching people's fingers going into the tills etc.), you may have to be able to prove that the date/timestamps are reliable, storing and distributing those images to anyone other than the police may also get you in trouble. Generally, the police will use it to take further action (e.g. if people are easily identifiable, definitely causing damage etc.) but you have to be careful how you handle that in a corporate environment.

Personally, I don't see why every house with CCTV isn't being sold a 50 gadget that you can plug X amount of cameras in that does this for you - they can even steal the cameras and the machine running it but the evidence will still be sitting on an offsite email address waiting to be delivered.

TigerOC 06-14-2006 12:00 PM

There is some really good Linux software for this purpose in the form of Zoneminder. Really quite sophisticated providing you have compatable equipment. I played with it for a few months and was really impressed.

tribalmasters 06-14-2006 05:39 PM

Yea I heard that was quite good! Definately worth looking into, I think whichever I choose, Reg will be pleased, the Gypsies destroy the gate and have been known to steal not just the contents of the bins, which are destined for recycling but the actual bins themselves! I found that out today. I think our camera system is going to be an analog one due to the higher quality cameras you can get for the price and a capture card but it deserves much consideration first, we now have decided 2 cameras would be best weatherproof but set up as cheaply as possible. The cameras, he said, would probably not be good evidence alone as a previous poster has said but the cameras would be of benefit to both companies on our premises A card and analog cameras I am going to recommend as webcams will never really capture much detail at all

tribalmasters 06-14-2006 05:42 PM

Oh and I think our budget is far too low for anything that is going to work. The cards recommended are 200+ alone!!

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