libcamera repository

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VCS Type git
VCS Version master
Last Updated 2023-12-07
CI status No Continuous Integration
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A complex camera support library for Linux, Android, and ChromeOS

Cameras are complex devices that need heavy hardware image processing operations. Control of the processing is based on advanced algorithms that must run on a programmable processor. This has traditionally been implemented in a dedicated MCU in the camera, but in embedded devices algorithms have been moved to the main CPU to save cost. Blurring the boundary between camera devices and Linux often left the user with no other option than a vendor-specific closed-source solution.

To address this problem the Linux media community has very recently started collaboration with the industry to develop a camera stack that will be open-source-friendly while still protecting vendor core IP. libcamera was born out of that collaboration and will offer modern camera support to Linux-based systems, including traditional Linux distributions, ChromeOS and Android.

Getting Started

To fetch the sources, build and install:

git clone
cd libcamera
meson setup build
ninja -C build install


The following Debian/Ubuntu packages are required for building libcamera. Other distributions may have differing package names:

A C++ toolchain: [required]

: Either {g++, clang}

Meson Build system: [required]

: meson (>= 0.60) ninja-build pkg-config

for the libcamera core: [required]

: libyaml-dev python3-yaml python3-ply python3-jinja2

for IPA module signing: [recommended]

: Either libgnutls28-dev or libssl-dev, openssl

Without IPA module signing, all IPA modules will be isolated in a
separate process. This adds an unnecessary extra overhead at

for improved debugging: [optional]

: libdw-dev libunwind-dev

libdw and libunwind provide backtraces to help debugging assertion
failures. Their functions overlap, libdw provides the most detailed
information, and libunwind is not needed if both libdw and the glibc
backtrace() function are available.

for device hotplug enumeration: [optional]

: libudev-dev

for documentation: [optional]

: python3-sphinx doxygen graphviz texlive-latex-extra

for gstreamer: [optional]

: libgstreamer1.0-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base1.0-dev

for Python bindings: [optional]

: libpython3-dev pybind11-dev

for cam: [optional]

: libevent-dev is required to support cam, however the following optional dependencies bring more functionality to the cam test tool:

-   libdrm-dev: Enables the KMS sink
-   libjpeg-dev: Enables MJPEG on the SDL sink
-   libsdl2-dev: Enables the SDL sink

for qcam: [optional]

: libtiff-dev qtbase5-dev qttools5-dev-tools

for tracing with lttng: [optional]

: liblttng-ust-dev python3-jinja2 lttng-tools

for android: [optional]

: libexif-dev libjpeg-dev

for lc-compliance: [optional]

: libevent-dev libgtest-dev

for [optional]

: abi-compliance-checker

Basic testing with cam utility

The cam utility can be used for basic testing. You can list the cameras detected on the system with cam -l, and capture ten frames from the first camera and save them to disk with cam -c 1 --capture=10 --file. See cam -h for more information about the cam tool.

In case of problems, a detailed debug log can be obtained from libcamera by setting the LIBCAMERA_LOG_LEVELS environment variable:


Using GStreamer plugin

To use GStreamer plugin from source tree, set the following environment so that GStreamer can find it. This isn\'t necessary when libcamera is installed.

export GST_PLUGIN_PATH=$(pwd)/build/src/gstreamer

The debugging tool gst-launch-1.0 can be used to construct a pipeline and test it. The following pipeline will stream from the camera named \"Camera 1\" onto the OpenGL accelerated display element on your system.

gst-launch-1.0 libcamerasrc camera-name="Camera 1" ! glimagesink

To show the first camera found you can omit the camera-name property, or you can list the cameras and their capabilities using:

gst-device-monitor-1.0 Video

This will also show the supported stream sizes which can be manually selected if desired with a pipeline such as:

gst-launch-1.0 libcamerasrc ! 'video/x-raw,width=1280,height=720' ! \

The libcamerasrc element has two log categories, named libcamera-provider (for the video device provider) and libcamerasrc (for the operation of the camera). All corresponding debug messages can be enabled by setting the GST_DEBUG environment variable to libcamera*:7.

Presently, to prevent element negotiation failures it is required to specify the colorimetry and framerate as part of your pipeline construction. For instance, to capture and encode as a JPEG stream and receive on another device the following example could be used as a starting point:

gst-launch-1.0 libcamerasrc ! \
     video/x-raw,colorimetry=bt709,format=NV12,width=1280,height=720,framerate=30/1 ! \
     jpegenc ! multipartmux ! \
     tcpserversink host= port=5000

Which can be received on another device over the network with:

gst-launch-1.0 tcpclientsrc host=$DEVICE_IP port=5000 ! \
     multipartdemux ! jpegdec ! autovideosink


Several users have reported issues with meson installation, crux of the issue is a potential version mismatch between the version that root uses, and the version that the normal user uses. On calling [ninja -C build]{.title-ref}, it can\'t find the module. This is a snippet of the error message.

ninja: Entering directory `build'
ninja: error: loading '': No such file or directory

This can be solved in two ways:

  1. Don\'t install meson again if it is already installed system-wide.
  2. If a version of meson which is different from the system-wide version is already installed, uninstall that meson using pip3, and install again without the --user argument.


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