Getting Started

To fetch the sources, build and install:

git clone
cd libcamera
meson setup build
ninja -C build install


The following Debian/Ubuntu packages are required for building libcamera. Other distributions may have differing package names:

A C++ toolchain: [required]
Either {g++, clang}
Meson Build system: [required]
meson (>= 0.60) ninja-build pkg-config
for the libcamera core: [required]
libyaml-dev python3-yaml python3-ply python3-jinja2
for IPA module signing: [recommended]

Either libgnutls28-dev or libssl-dev, openssl

Without IPA module signing, all IPA modules will be isolated in a separate process. This adds an unnecessary extra overhead at runtime.

for improved debugging: [optional]

libdw-dev libunwind-dev

libdw and libunwind provide backtraces to help debugging assertion failures. Their functions overlap, libdw provides the most detailed information, and libunwind is not needed if both libdw and the glibc backtrace() function are available.

for device hotplug enumeration: [optional]
for documentation: [optional]
python3-sphinx doxygen graphviz texlive-latex-extra
for gstreamer: [optional]
libgstreamer1.0-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base1.0-dev
for Python bindings: [optional]
libpython3-dev pybind11-dev
for cam: [optional]

libevent-dev is required to support cam, however the following optional dependencies bring more functionality to the cam test tool:

  • libdrm-dev: Enables the KMS sink
  • libjpeg-dev: Enables MJPEG on the SDL sink
  • libsdl2-dev: Enables the SDL sink
for qcam: [optional]
libtiff-dev qtbase5-dev qttools5-dev-tools
for tracing with lttng: [optional]
liblttng-ust-dev python3-jinja2 lttng-tools
for android: [optional]
libexif-dev libjpeg-dev
for Python bindings: [optional]
for lc-compliance: [optional]
libevent-dev libgtest-dev
for [optional]

Basic testing with cam utility

The cam utility can be used for basic testing. You can list the cameras detected on the system with cam -l, and capture ten frames from the first camera and save them to disk with cam -c 1 --capture=10 --file. See cam -h for more information about the cam tool.

In case of problems, a detailed debug log can be obtained from libcamera by setting the LIBCAMERA_LOG_LEVELS environment variable:


Using GStreamer plugin

To use the GStreamer plugin from the source tree, use the meson devenv command. This will create a new shell instance with the GST_PLUGIN_PATH environment set accordingly.

meson devenv -C build

The debugging tool gst-launch-1.0 can be used to construct a pipeline and test it. The following pipeline will stream from the camera named “Camera 1” onto the OpenGL accelerated display element on your system.

gst-launch-1.0 libcamerasrc camera-name="Camera 1" ! queue ! glimagesink

To show the first camera found you can omit the camera-name property, or you can list the cameras and their capabilities using:

gst-device-monitor-1.0 Video

This will also show the supported stream sizes which can be manually selected if desired with a pipeline such as:

gst-launch-1.0 libcamerasrc ! 'video/x-raw,width=1280,height=720' ! \
     queue ! glimagesink

The libcamerasrc element has two log categories, named libcamera-provider (for the video device provider) and libcamerasrc (for the operation of the camera). All corresponding debug messages can be enabled by setting the GST_DEBUG environment variable to libcamera*:7.

Presently, to prevent element negotiation failures it is required to specify the colorimetry and framerate as part of your pipeline construction. For instance, to capture and encode as a JPEG stream and receive on another device the following example could be used as a starting point:

gst-launch-1.0 libcamerasrc ! \
     video/x-raw,colorimetry=bt709,format=NV12,width=1280,height=720,framerate=30/1 ! \
     queue ! jpegenc ! multipartmux ! \
     tcpserversink host= port=5000

Which can be received on another device over the network with:

gst-launch-1.0 tcpclientsrc host=$DEVICE_IP port=5000 ! \
     multipartdemux ! jpegdec ! autovideosink