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Security is a major concern in the tech world, but we're not just talking about phishing attacks and malware. Old dangers, like break-ins and theft, threaten our homes and businesses, which is why there's a market for top-quality surveillance systems.
Thankfully, you don't need to pay hundreds of dollars for a surveillance system if you've got a spare PC running Linux and a few spare cameras. The DIY route will be cheaper and give you more control—as long as you pick the right network video recorder software. Here are the best Linux security camera software options for you to try.
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ZoneMinder is an awesome option for a do-it-yourself surveillance system. Professional features shape ZoneMinder into an ideal Linux NVR for household and commercial security alike. It comes with compatibility for both IP-enabled and standard PC cameras. If you're on the go, Android and iOS apps let you monitor your cameras remotely.
You've got plenty of options for configuring ZoneMinder to your requirements, with both live video and regular image stills supported. Email and SMS notifications help you to stay informed, even when you're not monitoring directly.
Additionally, ZoneMinder offers user access levels to let you limit who has access. It's pretty flexible with options to zoom, tilt, and pan cameras.
Linux CCTV users benefit from installers for various distributions like Ubuntu and Debian, but you can also compile from the source if you prefer. You can deploy ZoneMinder on low-powered devices like a Raspberry Pi, too.
If you're looking for easy-to-use Linux IP camera software, Xeoma is a good option—it markets itself as "childishly easy" video surveillance. It has a modular approach, letting you add the components and features you need as you set your system up.
This Linux security camera software is feature-rich. It's compatible with everything from typical USB webcams to Wi-Fi CCTV cameras. You can connect up to 2,000 cameras to a single Xeoma installation, making it perfect for commercial use.
Screen captures from all monitors at once, remote access, and motion detection are all features that make Xeoma a good option for users. It also supports mobile access, with SMS and email alerts, as well as remote access to archives, cameras, and settings.
You can also take advantage of different storage settings, delayed recordings, and even algorithms to avoid false positives. This latter feature is great for users with pets or small children.
Xeoma is paid software, but the lowest-cost plan is comparable in price to eating out at a fast-food restaurant. Overall, Xeoma is a simple but comprehensive option for keeping an eye on your home or workplace.
You can probably guess from the name, but Motion monitors, well, motion. This free program detects if a major part of a picture from a video signal has changed. Written in C, Motion was created specifically for Linux distros with the Video4Linux interface.
While it saves video when movement is detected, Motion also includes time-lapse settings for regular monitoring. You can also set Motion to save as either video or images. It runs headless and a GUI isn't needed, giving it a lightweight footprint compared to other Linux surveillance software competitors.
That's what makes Motion such a great choice if you're looking to build a cheap DIY Linux NVR to run on low-powered devices like the Raspberry Pi. It'll record your surveillance images or video digitally, either locally (on an SD card) or over your internal network.
Motion might be lacking in features compared to other Linux security camera software, but it's a good option if you're looking for a basic motion-sensor camera system.
If you want to exclusively run open-source software, Bluecherry is a Linux NVR for you. It's a cross-platform video surveillance system, so you're free to run it on other platforms if you prefer.
Installation is simple, with a one-line install script available for Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS. It supports over 2,600 IP cameras, with playback for recordings or live streaming available from your browser. Unfortunately, Bluecherry lacks its own mobile app for Android and iOS, but it does support integration with IP Cam Viewer.
While Bluecherry is free and open-source, paid support packages are available for business users. With a rich feature set and paid support options, Bluecherry is a great option for both business and residential use.
If you're designing a DIY surveillance system on a budget, you should consider Ivideon. The system requirements are among the lightest you'll find for any DIY DVR—you can run Ivideon on an Atom-powered PC with 1GB RAM and just 500MB of storage. You'll need at least 11GB available for daily video footage storage if you want to store locally, however.
Despite a low resource footprint, Ivideon is a service integrated with the cloud, with notifications and playback available over the internet. You can also store your recordings using Ivideon's cloud storage.
Installation is pretty simple. You can either download and run an installation script or run the individual commands from a terminal window yourself. Like many other video surveillance systems, Ivideon offers a mobile app for Android and iOS devices. It officially supports the most recent Debian and Ubuntu releases, but you can install it on other distros.
Home users have a range of plans to pick from, including the basic (but feature-heavy) online plan for free, although business users will have to stump up for a paid package.
Kerberos.io is another free NVR software for Linux, compatible with almost all Linux-supported cameras. It's cross-platform so you can run it on Windows and macOS as well as Linux. You can even download a Docker container to set yourself up in minutes without any configuration.
With support for Raspberry Pi OS, Kerberos.io is the best option for users looking to create a surveillance system with low-powered tech. Notably, Kerberos.io also has a clean, modern, and easy-to-use web interface.
If you don't want to spend a long time setting up, configuring, or maintaining your system, then Kerberos.io is one of the best options for you on Linux. While it's free, certain features (like viewing your cameras remotely) require a cloud subscription.
Shinobi is another open-source Linux NVR option that boasts of being easy to use and supports over 6,000 IP and USB cameras. The software is written in Node.js and is geared toward developers and end-users alike.
Like many open-source programs, Shinobi is the result of a developer seeking to scratch their own itch, to create a solution simple enough for anyone to easily use.
Shinobi is self-hosted, cloud-based Linux surveillance software. Once you have the system up and running, you can view videos on your phone or any device with a web browser capable of displaying a web page. There's nothing extra you need to install.
The community edition of Shinobi is free for anyone to use. A pro version is available for those who need developer support. The pro version receives regular updates, while the community edition only sees updates that deliver major changes and bug fixes.
Some of the above options can run on a Raspberry Pi, but there's another option that is built specifically for the task. motionEyeOS is a specialty Linux distro whose purpose is to turn your Raspberry Pi into a multi-camera Linux surveillance system.
motionEyeOS comes with the necessary software already baked in, so you don't need to go out hunting for additional tools. All you need is the right hardware, which comes down to a Raspberry Pi and a USB camera or Raspberry Pi camera module.
If this sounds like your preferred way to make a Linux NVR, here's how to create an open-source security system with motionEyeOS on a Raspberry Pi.
Stay Safe With Linux Security Camera Software
Building your own DIY Linux-based surveillance system can help protect your home and business from more traditional threats. They can also play a part in building a smart home with other DIY projects available to try.
If DIY-ing your own system sounds a little too complicated, then don't worry. Pick up one of the best wireless home security cameras instead.