Cameras are complex devices that need heavy hardware image processing operations. Control of the processing is based on advanced algorithms that must run on a programmable processor. This has traditionally been implemented in a dedicated MCU in the camera, but in embedded devices algorithms have been moved to the main CPU to save cost. Blurring the boundary between camera devices and Linux often left the user with no other option than a vendor-specific closed-source solution.
To address this problem the Linux media community has very recently started collaboration with the industry to develop a camera stack that will be open-source-friendly while still protecting vendor core IP. libcamera was born out of that collaboration and will offer modern camera support to Linux-based systems, including traditional Linux distributions, ChromeOS and Android.