The Kodak DC200 and Linux

  This documents my experiences with the Kodak DC200 digital camera and Linux. The DC210 is much the same camera, and some of what i've discovered is probably applicable to any compact flash camera.

Linux driver

  Orginally the only driver I could find was by an Australian company Tortuga Technologies who has developed a Unix SDK for the DC200/210 camera that appears to closely mirror the offical win32 API from Kodak. It runs under Sparc Solaris as well as Linux. It isn't however Open Source, and the binary only SDK librarys are time-bomed. They also have a product called Washington Photo Server, which is based on the above SDK and provides a cute Web interface to the camera. The photo server is a nice proof of concept but I couldn't see any real use for it. The SDK appears to be intended to allow developers to write for the Kodak SDK with out having to work under Windows for the entire development cycle!

  In the year that I have had the DC200, the open source community has not been idle, with a new package called gphoto being developed under the GNU project's Gnome user interface libraries. The program has lots of potential. I have not had a chance to play with it a lot yet, and can already crash it, but im sure these will get nailed. They have designed a cute logo to put on web pages :-)

Linux - no driver

Or how to avoid the download phase.

  Even with the development of gphoto downloading is slow. Getting sick of having to find the PC every 12 shots in order to change films, I bought a 16Mb Compact Flash card. 16Mb of image data takes quite a while to download. When I bought the 16Mb card I got the dealer to throw in a Compact Flash to PCMCIA adpater. I have an old Compaq Contura laptop running RedHat 6.0, that is PCMCIA equiped. The compact flash cards appear to the Linux system as another hard disk device (hdc in my case) and present a MSDOS file system to the world. This gives complete read/write access to the compact flash card as if it was just another hard disk device. Access is also many times faster than the serial link. The main issues here are not camera related at all, but all to do with getting Linux onto the laptop in the first place. (This can be quite a challange, particular with old small memory machines). There are a number of linux-laptop sites on the net, being one of them.

  While compact-flash cards appear to emulate an ATA hard disk, not all PCMCIA flash cards are so easy to get along with. I tried to read the flash-rom card as used in our CISCO router at work and failed. That flash card doesnt emulate a disk, but appears as a PCMCIA memory device. RedHat linux didnt have a suitable driver for the card. I rather doubt I would have been able to read the CISCO file system anyway. I belive that the Smart Media flash cards used by other brands of digital cameras pretend to be some sort of floppy device. I have yet to try a PCMCIA to Smart Media adapter under linux. I know some one with a Olympus digital camera, but they dont own a PCMCIA equiped laptop, so they have not bought the adapter card. All of this probably equally applies to the *BSD* of your choice. The BSD and Linux devloper community have a lot in common and a lot of overlap. It should all just work :-)

  However I havent worked out how to properly use The GIMP yet, so I boot up Windows and use photoshop on my desktop PC to work on the images. The Linux laptop has a network adpater and has Samba installed and shares the flash card mount point. Once I learn The GIMP, I would be doing the sharing via NFS.

  This method doesn't however allow you to control the camera at all, only process the images.

  I recently used the (windows based) flash update utility to upgrade the camera to a DC200+. (See KODAK DC200 to DC200 Plus Digital Camera Firmware Update for details. One of the new features is 'templates', where a border is applied by the camera to the image you just took. Apparently the Kodak flash cards supplied with the cameras are being preloaded with the template files.

  The template .BMP files are available on Kodaks DC200 site along with the flash upgrade. Using Linux again, I created the templates folder on one of my flash cards and copied the Kodak BMP templates I had downloaded onto it. The camera picked up and uses the templates fine. However I did this on my now little used 4Mb flash card, loading 8 templates. This doesnt leave a lot of room to hold any pictures :-). If you thought the camera cycle time was a bit long before, wait until you apply a 640x480 template to a 1152x864 hi-res image, however the DC200+ firmware is otherwise a little faster.

© Matthew Geier 19/07/1999