HowTo WVC54GC with Firefox

The problem

The Linksys Compact Wireless-G Internet Video Camera WVC54GC is a linux based wireless webcam with its own streaming web server built in. Windows users can view the video stream through Microsoft Internet Explorer without the need to install any extra software other than allowing the supplied Active-X control to run. The webcam has a web based management interface which is mostly usable from Firefox under windows or Linux, the main exception is you cannot see the video stream from the webcam using the builtin Active-X control. Firefox doesn’t support ActiveX, instead it uses a different plugin mechanism ‘Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface’. This does the same kind of job as ActiveX, but is more platform independent. In earlier versions of Firefox it was possible to use a wrapper to load ActiveX controls, as of Firefox 2, this is no longer possible.

The Solution

Using a combination of open source software you can obtain a very similar result, with a view of the stream appearing within the management interface. This solution works on both Windows and Linux. This solution has been tested on Windows XP, 32bit Gentoo Linux and 64bit Gentoo Linux.

How it works

Instead of using the Active-X control built into the webcam, a Greasemonkey script edits the page while its inside your browser, replace a reference to the Active-X control with a reference to an embedded VLC object, which takes its stream from the webcam. You may be wondering, why use VLC instead of Windows Media Player to view the stream from the WVC54GC? There are two good reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, that solution wouldn’t work under Linux. Secondly when I was testing this solution, I found that Windows Media Player seemed to take a very long time buffering the stream before actually beginning to play it; while VLC only takes a couple of seconds to get started.

Step 1: Install the following software if you don’t already have them.

  • VLC media player A powerful and versatile, multiplatform media player

  • Firefox 2 or above If you are reading this then I guess its your favorite browser

  • Greasemonkey firefox plugin A scripting tool for manipulating web pages on the fly

    This might seem a lot of software to install just to view the video stream, however these pieces of software are both very good tools to have installed on your computer and each is worth taking a look at in its own right - they will certainly earn their disk space.

Step 2: Click here to install the Greasemonkey Script

Step 3: Visit your webcam web user interface as normal click on ‘View Video’, wait a couple of seconds and then enjoy.