Primitive webcam server using inetd and fswebcam

Hi all!

This weekend I was thinking how to make my webcam connected to
OrangePI send a picture “on demand”. There are daemons (e.g. motion or
webcam-mjpg) which do this but they capture images even when you are not
watching and I wanted to avoid this. There are also projects (fswebcam)
which are able to take single picture, save it to disk and end. I just
needed to run it after http request and send back the image. Installing
full webserver with some kind of interpreter (php, lua,…) seemed to me
like an overkill. So I came to an idea to use inetd.

And this is how I did.

First you need to install inetd and fswebcam:

apt install openbsd-inetd fswebcam

Then you make it listen on some TCP  port and define which
script to run. To  do this add following line to /etc/inetd.conf

8083    stream  tcp,sndbuf=64k  nowait  root    /root/

and restart it

service inetd restart

Then you need a script which will run the webcam binary and fake a HTTP response.

Create /root/

In case you want just one shot:



fswebcam --resolution 640x480 --save $FILE &>/dev/null 
len=stat -c '%s' $FILE echo "HTTP/1.1 200 OK" echo "Content-Type: image/jpeg" echo "Content-Length: $len" echo cat $FILE # let the client to close the connection sleep 1

In case you want a mjpeg stream:



function cleanup {
  killall fswebcam
trap cleanup EXIT

fswebcam --loop 1 --resolution "640x480" --timestamp "%d-%m-%Y %H:%M:%S (%Z)" --save $FILE --background


echo -e "HTTP/1.1 200 OK\r"
echo -e "Content-Type: multipart/x-mixed-replace;boundary=$BOUND\r"
echo -e "\r"


echo -e "--$BOUND\r"
while [ $OK -eq 0 ]
  if [ "stat --format=%Y $FILE" == "$MOD" ]   then     sleep 1   else     MOD=stat --format=%Y $FILE     echo -e "Content-Type: image/jpeg\r"     len=stat -c '%s' $FILE     echo -e "Content-Length: $len\r"     echo -e "\r"     cat $FILE     OK=$?     echo -e "\r\n--$BOUND\r"   fi   if ! ps | grep fswebcam &> /dev/null   then     exit 1   fi done

Then make it executable

chmod +x /root/

And you are done!

This way you can run any shell script with various output (text, binary, image, etc.).

Looking forrward to your comments.


2 thoughts on “Primitive webcam server using inetd and fswebcam”

  1. Hi,
    I am really not familiar with shell-scripting, so I have been not able to figure out whether the start of the mjpeg stream can be limited to a certain time span…like 5sec. Can you give me a hint to adpat your script accordingly?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.