Friday, August 3, 2012

ZoneMinder Update

Using ZoneMinder in a virtual machine. 

If a surveillance system is to do any good it has to stay on all the time. If it's a computer and stays on all the time it needs to be a low power system to save money, heat and provide good reliability. Low-power computing is a good way to go with surveillance, hence there's a tangential tie-in to "openwattmonitor". Find more at

A buddy has been trying to see if he can get a purpose-built ZoneMinder virtual machine up and running. He queried me on this blog some time ago. Steve, I hope you have gotten my comments and that my feedback is useful for you. Don't give up, you are on the right track.

Your TrendNet IP cam was one of the vendors that ZoneMinder was made to work with from the start, so you've got the right hardware. The trick is configuration, not an easy thing with ZoneMinder.

My suggestion to you is not to use pre-built VM's that have ZoneMinder installed, or you'll miss out on the goodness. Those VM's are just as hard (or harder) to configure than bringing up your own from-scratch ZM install. I'll be glad to share with you how I did mine.

I could be wrong: please tell me if there's some overriding reason you are going with a pre-built VM appliance - if it's just to save time, trouble and complexity, I don't think the pre-built VM's do a good job of that. I tried one and it's harder than building from scratch!

ZoneMinder 1.25 has just now been released, and it's good. There are big improvements in current versions of both Ubuntu and ZoneMinder. I have to do a "forklift upgrade" of my own ZoneMinder install: I want to go to Ubuntu 12.04LTS and ZoneMinder 1.25. I intend to just delete what I have and start anew.

ZoneMinder is complicated but powerful, robust and well made. It's gotten a great deal of improvement and development recently and works better than ever with Ubuntu! Let's do it man!



  1. Hey James, the cool thing about VM's is it's easy to bring up another one and "try again", which I think I will do after gleaning everything I can from your notes.

    My last install was vanilla Ubuntu, no prebuilt load or anything like that, but I was intrigued when all my cam's didn't seem to want to work, and others were talking about prebuilt VM images.

    My biggest concern with ZM not working was:

    * Me missing some key configuration component of ZM

    * All my cams failing in a slightly different way

    * Maybe I was missing some key package that allowed ZM to communicate, though this is unlikely

    My experience with Ubuntu is I usually see something cool in that platform I want to get working, and make an attempt. Not getting it to work the first time around is not uncommon, but I've learned enough on the first pass sometimes to circle around and get it to work a second or a third time. I'll let you know how it goes.

  2. Steve - there is a way to check the "data stream" from the camera first, before bringing up the full ZoneMinder configuration. It lets you know if the cameras are working and compatible at all. If you can see the data stream, you should be good-to-go to use the camera in ZoneMinder.