The Omnivision chips are used in some cheap webcams for example, from DSE as well in the Sony EyeToy.

There is a driver (licensed under the GPL) that you can download from - the module will be called ov51x. It should work with 2.2, 2,4 and 2.6 kernels. This driver has stalled in this form but there is some development going on with it slightly modified and this is known as the ovcamchip Module currently.

Unfortunately, these cameras serve images up in JPEG format only, and this behaviour will require application-level support. No webcam software for Linux seems to handle this (yet - at least for V4L version 1). The source code for the driver (linked above) comes with a small program that can grab and save JPEG images from the camera. JohnMcPherson has a modified version of this program that will display captured video in an X window - grab the "showvideo" package from our software archive. It appears there are some issues with JPEG patents - see here and here

The LinuxKernel maintainers would not allow something like JPEG decompression inside a kernel module... they will argue (correctly) that this is something that should be done in userspace. However, this lets the camera work with any video4linux program instead of only programs that do jpeg decompression themselves. One such driver is now available for download from the following website: - you will need the following Modules loaded:

  • videodev
  • ov51x
  • ov519_decomp

You may need to use UDev to setup devices on /dev/video and /dev/video0 and to set the correct permission.