If you're using a stock kernel, everything should be okay. If you're building your own, make sure that the following kernel features are enabled:
Device Drivers Multimedia support Video For Linux Enable Video For Linux API 1 compatible layer Video capture adapters
Assuming the webcam is a USB device:
V4L USB devices
Now select the driver for your device. If it's a GSPCA device:
GSPCA based webcams
and select the appropriate driver.
The simplest method to determine the appropriate driver is probably to first install a kernel that has everything enabled, and check the dmesg output to see which driver picks up the device.
Kernels earlier than Linux 2.6.27 (e.g. Lenny) don't have gspca integrated into the main kernel tree, and it must be installed separately:
# aptitude install gspca-modules-2.6-`uname -r|sed 's,[^-]*-[^-]*-,,'` && modprobe gspca
This driver is not yet in the mainline kernel.
# aptitude install module-assisstant ov51x-jpeg-source # m-a a-i ov51x-jpeg
In addition to the kernel support discussed above, one of the following userspace components may be necessary for the proper functioning of your webcam:
EasyCam is a utility to automate webcam installation:
mplayer - Can be used to view webcam video by invoking mplayer tv://
xawtv - A suite of video4linux related software, which can be used to view webcam video.
cheese - "Cheese uses your webcam to take photos and videos, applies fancy special effects and lets you share the fun with others."
camorama - Hasn't been updated since 2007, but it works as a basic, simple webcam viewer.
motion - Motion detection using a webcam.
amsn - "aMSN is a free open source MSN Messenger clone" with "webcam support".
kopete - The KDE instant messaging client - supports video for various protocols.
More applications are listed here.
Sometimes, webcams include a microphone inside. Check input level with a mixer:
Individual camera / chipset resources
pwc et pwcx (french)
ToDo : synchronize with the french page