How to enable Face­time and iSight Cam­era sup­port on Linux

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The prob­lem

Every­one knows of this prob­lem. You just installed Linux on your new/old MacBook/iMac. Then you want to start, let’s say a video con­fer­ence and boom: Skype or whatever you’re using says “No device found”. To fix this issue, I found this solu­tion on StackExchange/AskUbuntu. It did­n’t work com­pletely fine for me, but I found anoth­er post on StackExchange/AskUbuntu which helped me out with the last prob­lems. In this blo­g­post, I want to share my com­pared solu­tion to enable Facetime/iSight Cam­era Sup­port on Linux.

I used the instruc­tions from the Stack­Ex­change posts above on Linux Mint 20.1 Cin­na­mon, on an early 2015 Mac­Book Pro &quot13. As Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, and the instruc­tions I fol­lowed actu­ally were asked by an Ubuntu user, I sup­pose that these instruc­tions will also work on Ubuntu. I did­n’t test this on oth­er Linux distros.

The solu­tion

Copy the below code line by line into a ter­min­al. How you do that is com­pletely up to you, but make sure you copy it exactly as it’s writ­ten below.

sudo apt-get install git
sudo apt-get install curl xzcat cpio
git clone https://github.com/patjak/facetimehd-firmware.git
cd facetimehd-firmware
make
sudo make install
cd ..
sudo apt-get install kmod libssl-dev checkinstall
git clone https://github.com/patjak/bcwc_pcie.git
cd bcwc_pcie
make
sudo make install
sudo depmod
sudo modprobe -r bdc_pci
sudo modprobe facetimehd
sudo nano /etc/modules

With­in the file we opened in the last line from above, add “face­time­hd” right at the end in a new line. Write out (<CTRL> + <O>), accept the file­name (<ENTER>) and close (<CTRL> + <X>).

All that did­n’t per­fectly work for me. Firstly, in line 2, I could­n’t install the pack­age “xzcat” because it was­n’t found. A com­ment said that I had to install “xz-utils” instead of “xzcat”, but this pack­aget was already installed, so that’s it. Secondly, I was­n’t able to run line 14, because “mod­ule bdc_pci was­n’t found”. With the help of anoth­er StackExchange/AskUbuntu post, I was able to find a solu­tion for this, too. Install the fol­low­ing package:

sudo apt-get install isight-firmware-tools

Dur­ing the course of the install­a­tion pro­cess, you will be asked for a firm­ware file. You can down­load such a file here. Extract the down­loaded zip archive and copy the included file to a spot you find it again. Then enter the path to that file where you were asked for it. When the install­a­tion suc­cess­fully fin­ished, you’re ready to go.

Just try out your cam­era right now. Even a reboot isn’t required. For example open “Cheese”, and boom: iSight/Facetimehd!

I hope these instruc­tions will have worked for you. If you have have any ques­tions, ideas what I could do bet­ter, please let me know. Just write a com­ment in the com­ment sec­tion below!

By xamsoftware

Hey there, I'm a 15 year old self-taught software developer from Germany. My preferred programming languages: — LiveCode — Java — HTML/CSS (I know, not real programming languages but I thought it would be worth listing them here)

5 comments

  1. When I turned on my Mac­Book this morn­ing, I real­ized the cam­era was­n’t prop­erly detec­ted again. So I did the following:
    — repeat all steps from list­ing 1
    — remove isight-firm­ware-tools: sudo apt remove isight-firmware-tools
    — rein­stalll isight-firm­ware-tools: sudo apt install isight-firmware-tools
    — Test it: Works!

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