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GPL’d Linux driver released for MPEG-4 compression

Jun 18, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 27 views

Bluecherry released an open source driver for version 2 of its Linux-based compression card for MPEG-4 digital video recording. Redesigned around the Linux kernel's API for Video (Video4Linux) and Audio (ALSA), the GPL-licensed driver primarily targets the Bluecherry compression cards and related Ubuntu-based video surveillance software, but can be used for a variety of video applications.

The Bluecherry driver is billed as the first multi-input MPEG-4 hardware compression GPL driver written around the Linux kernel's API. The driver, which has been published under GPL on, was rewritten from scratch for Bluecherry's similarly revamped version 2 of its DVR software and cards. However, the driver can be modified for a variety of MPEG-4 hardware compression applications, says the company.

The new Linux driver revamps a previous open source driver that "was pretty pathetic to say the least," according to chief developer Ben Collins in his blog. "Most of it was just a kludge of the Windows driver, exposing all of the functionality, but with little effort to make it Linux-savvy."

Bluecherry compression card

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Bluecherry was founded by Curtis Hall in his basement in 2005 while he was working as a deputy with the Callaway County Sheriff Department in Missouri, says the company. Bluecherry sells 4-, 8-, and 16-port MPEG-4 Bluecherry compression cards with its associated surveillance software (see farther below for more on both).

The Bluecherry MPEG-4 compression driver can load up to 16 MPEG-4 and JPEG encoders, as well as 16 audio (ALSA) devices, says Bluecherry. The driver is also said to enable an uncompressed YUV display port that supports modifications of the composite video output.

For example, the display port enables a quad view display, as shown in the Bluecherry surveillance software screenshot below. By having this functionality supported in the driver, developers can save hundreds of dollars, since they would not necessarily need an external video quad or multiplexer to combine separate cameras into one video output, claims the company.

The driver requires technical knowledge of using Video4Linux API, says Bluecherry, and currently only covers MPEG-4 cards. Within several months, the company plans to develop a driver for H.264 compression.

Bluecherry card ports
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Based on technology from Softlogic, the Bluecherry compression cards offer, four, eight, or 16 analog video input ports. The 6.0 x 3.75 x 0.5-inch cards use the PCI 2.2 format, and support display and recording resolutions of up to 720 × 480 at 120 frames per second, says the company.

In addition to the video inputs, the Bluecherry cards supply an RCA output, as well as up to 16 RCA audio inputs and one RCA audio output. The cards are said to support audio sampling rates of 8KHz or 16KHz. The cards are are further equipped with a watchdog timer and reset cable, and provide options including eight-port sensor and four-port relay interfaces.

The cards require an Intel or AMD-based desktop PC with a minimum of 1.6GHz clock rate and 512MB RAM (1GB for advanced features). An Nvidia GeForce or nForce video card is also required, along with a hard drive, says Bluecherry.

Bluecherry surveillance software

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The optional Bluecherry surveillance DVR software is based on Ubuntu 8.04, says Bluecherry. It supports audio and video recording, with camera features said to include support for motion tracking, as well as pan, tilt, and zoom. Security features include object (theft) detection, PTZ auto tracking, and authenticated and scheduled access features, says Bluecherry.

The software ships with web- and Windows-based remote clients, as well as remote access from mobile browsers, including iPhone or Android phones. A software development kit is not yet available, but the software is said to be supported with community features such as a bug tracker, forums, and an Ubuntu repository.


The Bluecherry v2 driver may be found on, here, and is available from Ben Collins' blog announcement, here. The official Bluecherry announcement, with links to information on the company's compression cards and software should be here.

The Bluecherry compression cards are said to be available at the following prices, without the surveillance software: 4-port $200; 8-port $230; 16-port $375.

A story by The Inquirer about the Bluecherry driver may be found here.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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