Setting Up The FaceTime Camera On MacBook Ubuntu

And reinstalling it on each startup with a bash script

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A smug, very well-fed penguin holding an apple as if he’s about to eat it.
Image by Midjourney

A few months ago, my beloved MacBook finally reached the end of its long and colorful MacOS life. I finally let it go, and returned to my Windows machine. I couldn’t do anything with it, really, but I also couldn’t bring myself to take it in for recycling. And then I realized that I desperately needed a machine that my son could use for simple things (and that wasn’t mine).

So a little over a month ago, I went looking for a guide for installing Ubuntu on an old MacBook, and I came across an excellent two year-old Medium article How to Install and Set up Ubuntu 20.04 on an Old MacBook Pro. I followed the guide, and everything went surprisingly smoothly!

Key bindings notwithstanding. I’m making do with the default keys, and while it’s a bit awkward, it’s totally manageable (for now). I’m using Shutter for screenshots, and I’m mostly getting along with the Ctrl/Shift-Ctrl/Fn/Cmd buttons. It’s fine.

One of the trickier things to get right was setting up the FaceTime camera to work with video chat apps like Zoom. Under the heading “Ubuntu camera problem”, there’s a script for installing and configuring the camera, and it works like a charm!

This morning, in a rush to set up the laptop for my son’s Zoom classes before heading our to the office, I made a classic beginner’s mistake and pushed the “Accept” button when Ubuntu asked me if I wanted to update the software. I don’t know why I did it, but I realized my mistake the moment it was too late to cancel it 🤦

As could have been expected, the update not only took forever, but it also broke halfway. I eventually managed to get Zoom working again, but it was…

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Adam Fisher / fisher king (@therightstuff)

Software developer and writer of words, currently producing a graphic novel adaptation of Shakespeare's Sonnets! See http://therightstuff.bio.link for details.