Making a Creative Labs Instant Webcam work under Linux

Just bought a cheap Creative Labs Instant webcam. These things are supported by the spca5xx driver. To install the driver under gentoo, do:

emerge spca5xx

To see if your device is detected after connecting it up, do:


You should see a line similar to this one:

Bus 002 Device 006: ID 041e:4034 Creative Technology, Ltd

A useful tool if you use the spca5xx driver is spcaview. In any case, initially, after plugging the webcam in, all I got was a dark screen. I believe that’s because the device needs to be initialized. I cannot be sure exactly how I activated it, except that I plugged and unplugged it while running various software. Yes, it is a bit fuzzy. Sorry.

Now, it works beautifully.

Update: You might need to plug the device after the driver has been loaded. Try typing “rmmod spca5xx” and if that works, remove your device, load the driver (modprobe spca5xx) and plug the device back in. If you want to check if it works without any fancy software, do “more /dev/video0”, there should be no error message and you ought to read some characters (maybe blanks).

Annoying bug: It isn’t clear why, but gnomemeeting has the voice button disabled despite the fact that my voice hardware is correctly configured. It could be that the spca5xx driver is messing up gnomemeeting or that gnomemeeting is buggy and sometimes erronously disables the audio.

Update on annoying bug: Gnomemeeting works just fine, but for audio input to work, you have to open a connection to another user. Great software.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

4 thoughts on “Making a Creative Labs Instant Webcam work under Linux”

  1. I am currently using SuSE 9.3 Professional. As far as I know “emerge” command is not available under other distro, except for Gentoo.

    Do you know any similar commands to install the driver for spca5xxx driver?

    For your information, I have performed lsusb and located my Creative Webcam Instant, almost similar to the line that you had there.

  2. From my reading online the spca5xx driver is for older kernerls. to find out the kernel you are useing run this command
    `uname -r`

    then if you have Kernel 2.6.11 or newer replace spca5xx with gspcav1 and things shuld work great.

    # gspcav1 – Kernel 2.6.11 or newer
    # spca5xx – Kernel 2.6.11 or older
    I got this infomation from :

  3. Thank you for this useful post! I got a Creative Labs Webcam Instant from a friend and am still trying to figure out how to exactly use it on my Debian.

    I first found this post at LibLand but didn’t get it running. Now, by your list of commands helping me to remember the command lsusb , I can at least see that my distro recognizes the webcam. But unfortunately, I have no program to test it.

    I hope to get this thing running very soon, thank you 🙂

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