Udev Webcam Rules

I've been assisting someone sort out webcam driver and application issues, and while doing that someone else mentioned how they controlled the device naming of their multiple video devices by controlling the driver load-order with modprobe entries. That isn't a good way to do it, not least because it isn't portable but also because most Linux distributions use udev specifically for this purpose, and it is simple to create a rule.

Here's the content of my response.

Cresho said
I had to configure my 2 video cards from being switched around because ubuntu starts them up randomly. Here is a post fix I did a while back, it could help someone maybee here if video is switching around.

Cresho, here's the best way to deal with video device naming. Create a udev rule similar to this:

SUBSYSTEM=="video4linux", BUS=="usb", SYSFS{idVendor}=="054c", SYSFS{idProduct}=="0154", NAME="video5"

It is saved as "/etc/udev/rules.d/25-name-video-devices.rules" (requires sudo/gksudo privileges to write the file).

Take notice of == being used to test existing values passed through udev, and = being used to assign a new value.

In this case it is tied to a USB device with the PCI ID 054C:0154 (A Sony Playstation EyeToy camera) using a match with idVendor and idProduct. It will be given the name video5 which will end up as /dev/video5.

See the udev manual page for more details:

man udev

To identify the values being passed through udev you would run the udevmonitor just before plugging the device in:

sudo udevmonitor --environment | tee video-udev.log

This command writes the output to screen but also saves it to the file "video-udev.log" since there can sometimes be a lot of output that needs examining carefully to find the correct attributes to use to recognise the device.

Here's an extract of a part of the log that I used in this example:

UEVENT[1220172826.231984] add      /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.1/usb2/2-1 (usb)


UEVENT[1220172826.711537] add      /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.1/usb2/2-1/video4linux/video1 (video4linux)

Notice how PRODUCT contains the PCI device ID without leading zeros.

If it is a built-in device that can't be unplugged then you identify the driver that handles it, and unload the driver, then reload it with udevmonitor running. In the case of the EyeToy camera here, the driver is ov51x-jpeg, so (if it were built-in) I'd do:

sudo modprobe -r ov51x-jpeg
sudo udevmonitor --environment | tee video-udev.log&
sudo modprobe ov51x-jpeg

Now press Ctrl+C to interrupt udevmonitor and return to the command-line.

Note: There will be some output as soon as udevmonitor starts but ignore it and go ahead typing the next command even though the input prompt appears to be missing. The "&" at the end of the udevmonitor command puts the process into the background and returns to the command-line immediately.