Webcam Support in Arch Linux on Macbooks

posted on bydotcs

I'm running Manjaro Linux (an Arch Linux derivative) on my MacbookPro12,1 (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015).

Image source: support.apple.com, 2020/04/01
Image source: support.apple.com, 2020/04/01

I was astonished how many things just worked out-of-the-box. Kudos to the Arch and Manjaro teams for their great work!

Unfortunately one thing that did not work out-of-the-box is the webcam. It requires a driver that is not part of the official kernel but must be installed separately.
The code is in the Arch User Repository (AUR). I use yay to install packages from AUR which I can highly recommend and which I will use in this article.

Let's get our hands dirty!

First let's get information about all installed kernels and see if the headers are installed for all of them:

$ pacman -Q | grep -E 'linux[0-9]+'  # see which kernels are installed

For each installed linux kernel there should be a -headers file next to it, e.g.

linux419 4.19.113-1
linux419-headers 4.19.113-1
linux54 5.4.28-1
linux54-headers 5.4.28-1
linux55 5.5.13-1
linux55-headers 5.5.13-1

If the headers are missing, make sure to install them:

$ yay -S linux-headers   # select the headers that are missing

Then let's get the driver and install it from AUR:

$ yay -S bcwc-pcie-git

After the installation we need to load the kernel module:

$ modprobe facetimehd

You can test if the video source has been identified correctly by executing v4l2-ctl --list-devices. If everything worked out, the output should be:

Apple Facetime HD (PCI:0000:02:00.0):
	/dev/video0

If the output is instead No /dev/video0 device, then make sure to unload the kernel module bdc_pci as described in the wiki. This can be done by running the following commands:

modprobe -r facetimehd  # temporary remove facetimehd module
modprobe -r bdc_pci     # remove disturbing kernel module

# make sure that the disturbing kernel module is blacklisted
# and cannot be loaded as a dependency of another module.
echo "blacklist bdc_pci\ninstall bdc_pci /bin/false" > /etc/modprobe.d/bcwc-pcie.conf

modprobe facetimehd     # load the facetimehd module again

The webcam should work now. You can test it on any website that requires a webcam, such as meet.jit.si. Have fun!

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