This is part one on my Project B that I came up with while resting/healing/vacationing down in San Diego after my kidney transplant. Of course, I had a lot of free/spare time while I was down there and a lot of that time was researching on how to set up my system. I’m not exactly a stranger to it as I had previously operated one, but it was a single camera and a wi-fi one at that. It eventually broke and stopped working. This time I have decided to do things the right way/sort of. I’ll get to that in another blog entry but now I’m going to focus on the software aspect of things.
My previous system, the single wi-fi camera system, I set up mainly to keep an eye on things on people coming towards where we live. Fortunately, there isn’t many points of ingress so one camera would suffice though it does leave some other areas vulnerable, but still a little difficult as there’s a multitude of other properties and fences blocking them. This time I have decided to do things the right way or at least better. Instead of wireless, I’m going hard-wired with a POE system which I will detail later. But now, we will move onward talking about the software piece to the puzzle. There’s many options but for me I will be looking at options that can run on Linux mainly because I find it a bit more stable than Windows. With home security, the last thing I want to deal with is a blue screen of death when I need it most. But of course, that doesn’t mean Linux doesn’t have its faults either. But lets focus on the actual software that records.
This is perhaps one of the first options that comes into people’s heads when you say security cam software and Linux. This is the same software I used on my one wi-fi camera system. It’s a decent enough system, but it’s downside is that it can be extremely challenging and difficult. Don’t get me wrong but it is extremely capable of doing what you need it to do but I did have issues with it. I had issues with it stopping for no good reason, though I think I eventually figured that things were rebooting and when it did that Zoneminder did not restart it’s monitoring. The other issue I had with it was it’s reviewing past events. I could never smoothly do it as there was no slider bars and when I tried to fast forward through it I could never get it to play normally afterwards and often would lose it’s picture. It just wouldn’t cooperate with me. That is why I am hesitant to choose it again.
Next on my list would be Motion. To start with as a little disclaimer, I don’t have much experience with Motion as I have really didn’t dabble with it at all. To me it seems a little incomplete and a little complex to bother with. Now it does have it’s positives as it does have a small footprint and can run easier on older systems. Though, like I said I am doing this a better way which I want to have a machine that can handle any software easily.
This one intrigued me most out of all the ones I did not choose and yet it is another I haven’t tried. Mainly because it’s geared towards the great little device called the Raspberry Pi. I may pull my old Raspberry Pi out of where ever it is hiding at and try it someday. But I really do not have the time to do so at the moment. Like I said in the previous blog, I have other projects running. But from the pictures and demo at their site it does look like a promising little piece of software and if it can run on a Raspberry Pi then it’s footprint is relatively small. If you have the time and desire and want something “free,” then you should give this a try and maybe tell me how it went.
Now to the programs that cost money and the first one I looked at was Bluecherry. I didn’t really delve too much into this as I didn’t like the pricing model, though the one I’m going with is very similar in nature to this pricing model. However, what is lacking is there’s little description of the actual product on their website. There is a demo, but I’d need to install something first and that isn’t something I wanted to do. I have enough programs on my laptop and adding another wouldn’t help the situation. Yes, I’m bad at removing stuff, though I will be reinstalling my system soon and probably switching Linux distros. But overall, I think Bluecherry could be a good option for some people, it just wasn’t for me. But, it would have been my second choice.
Lvideon is another claimed lightweight solution for home security cameras. It does look nice and even the free option gives you 24 hour cloud storage of your camera. This seemed promising at first until it’ll cost $40+/year per camera if you want to go beyond their free service. If you had 4 cameras, that works out to be $160/year. Yes, it’s only ~$13 a month but I am setting up a home security system to avoid such costs. Yes, I could go with their free option, but it looks like that limits it to 1-2 cameras, which would have worked with my old system, but not my new system which will eventually have at least 6 cameras with 4 cameras being the bare minimum to cover what I need to cover. Of course, maybe I got it wrong, but that is what I am gather from their website.
Ultimately, I think I have decided to go with Xeoma. I think it’s a great little program, even though yes it costs some money. But at least, it’s a one-time payment, unless you want updates beyond one year, but even then it’s extremely reasonable. I will admit that there might be a little learning curve with their modules system, but I find them to be extremely useful in terms of getting your cameras set up to work the way you want them to. Plus, it’s good to learn new things here and there. Also, I like it’s auto detection of cameras, which found mine right away. I was pleasantly surprised with that one because even though it claimed to do so, I expected it to only work with the more mainstream and popular brands. But, it did pick up this LIONVIS Bullet IP Camera that I purchased from Amazon. I’ll probably review the equipment in another blog entry. Of course, keep in mind I’m probably not the best reviewer out there and if you are looking at a good reviewer, you might be out of luck on this blog.
But as far as the software Xeoma package goes, it went smoothly when I tested the trial version and I will review it further once I play with it more full term with the cameras in place where they need to be. But, I would definitely recommend trying it out and seeing if it is for you. Xeoma is definitely easier to use and operate that Zoneminder was. It was also great at playback with use of the slider as well as fastforward which I always had issues with Zoneminder. Now only downsides with Xeoma is that it costs money. So if you are looking for a free solution, you’d have to look elsewhere. Though, Xeoma does offer free licenses if you write an unique article about it(4 free license or upgrade of 8) or if you write a review(8 camera or 16 camera upgrade). The second part might be a downside as it might make people write fake reviews about it in order to get some free licenses, though in their defense they never said it had to be a good review. Though, this one is a pretty good one, though on my downside I don’t think I’d qualify as I’m not sure if my blog is indexed by Google yet. Though as a disclaimer, I will look into it. Though, this review is a bit incomplete at the moment as this really is only my first impressions of researching it and playing with a “demo” version of it for a brief moment. I will probably add a more in depth review after using it for a decent period of time. But at this time, if you are looking for a security camera system program, definitely place this on your list.
Another note: For another nominal fee per month, they also offer cloud services to upload your camera views. Also, this program runs on more than just Linux as well and will work with Windows.
Final Rankings after first Impression:
* denotes paid programs/services
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment box below.