Zoneminder – A home security system

111174350993_1For years, I have been experimenting with home security and video surveillance systems.  I have seen a variety of them offered on ebay and various manufactures in China, some of which are pretty inexpensive.  However, they all of fail is the usability side and are locked down to such a degree that you can’t update them easily to add new features, and for the mon ey the manufacturers  wont update the software.  Those systems that do run with a large feature set tend to be much more expensive than one can afford for the home.  I have long worried about the safety of my family and house and beyond serving as a means to catch a potential, I also benefit from the system being a deterrent.

Web Enabled

Most of my experimenting was done in ZoneMinder.  ZoneMinder is an open source Linux CCTV security system which  is access via the web.   So, with ZoneMinder, out of the box you have the ability to monitor your video cameras on the Internet, or even a smart phone app.  It supports a variety of cameras including USB, composite video (with additional card), remote camera servers, etc…  So, essentially, any camera configured with ZoneMinder is now online for remote access.

Big Brother is watching

A benefit of ZoneMinder is that you can configure it, using the web interface to monitor and record video from your cameras when the system detects motion.  The user configures zones in the camera that ZoneMinder monitors, and when the system detects motion in that zone,  the system will record based upon parameters you define.  So, for example a tree moving in the wind will not set off a false alarm, but a person on a walkway will.  This cuts down on the number of false alarms, and saves hard drive space.


  • Computer – I literally have them laying around, so not a big issue for me.  In my case, i have  duo core Pentium 4 with 3 GB of RAM sitting around.  This computer doesn’t run windows 7 very will, but it will run Linux.  I have a few 200 GB drives floating around wi

    th with Linux and RAID, I have more then enough space.

  • Operating System – I am using Suse 13.1 for this build. I am also a fan of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS but for some reason, Ubuntu would not recognize my USB Logitech camera.  I figured that if there was an issue with my first camera on Ubuntu, then I would use Suse.
  • Capture Card – I chose a 4 Channel Digital Video Recorder (DVR) PICO CCTV Card I bought off ebay for about $20.  There are perhaps better cards, but for the price I don’t think you can go wrong.
  • Cameras – I am going to use USB or inexpensive composite video cameras.  I choose ceiling mounts to keep them out of the hot sun.  I purchased CCTV Sony CCD 24IR 700TVL Indoor Dome Security camera 3.6mm Surveillance Camera that I also found on ebay for about $20.  I will undoubtedly will have more info on other cameras when I get more setup.


I wont do into too much depth for installing openSuse 13.1.  Rest assured there are a ton of websites going into detail on that task.  I did a base setup, but am starting in run level 3, and opened the firewall up to sshd and httpd.  Once installed, I am doing a source code install of zone minder, so with Yast, I installed Web and LAMP Server, Base Development, C/C+ development, and perl development patterns.  I don’t know if you need this all for ZoneMinder but I typically use it for other reasons, so I am installing it now.

I chose to use the repository installation and followed the directions found here:

Soon enough, I was online and had 1 USB camera up and running. I will post more on this in time…