Setting up home surveillance on Ubuntu 14.04 server

I’ve been wanting to set up a home surveillance system for quite some time so I can keep an eye on things at home while I’m out of the country.
Now that my old ASUS EEE-1000H has been retired as my HTPC in favour of my RaspXBMC setup, I decided to convert it into my home surveillance set up.
Step 1. Install Ubuntu 14.04 server edition
I wanted to start from a completely fresh installation so I installed Ubuntu Server 14.04 on my little netbook again. This is documented in plenty of other places so I won’t go into it here.
Step 2. Install a lightweight GUI for the server
I’m a fan of doing whatever I can by the command line and hate to use a GUI most of the time. Not for any sort of geek-points but just because I find I’m more at home with a terminal rather than a GUI. However, a lot of guides I read in preparation for this seemed to indicate that it might be a little easier to mess about the with webcam and settings on the machine directly.
I used this guide: to install the lighweight Gnome desktop.
Basically, you just need to run:
sudo apt-get install xorg gnome-core gnome-system-tools gnome-app-install
Step 3. Install Zoneminder.
Using the guide from the Zoneminder wiki ( I installed Zoneminder and was able to access the web admin area using http://localhost/zm with no issues.

a2enmod cgi
service apache2 restart

apt-get install software-properties-common python-software-properties
add-apt-repository ppa:iconnor/zoneminder
apt-get update
apt-get install zoneminder
apt-get install libvlc-dev libvlccore-dev vlc
Then edit the ZoneMinder config file (/etc/init.d/zoneminder) to add the “sleep 15” command to allow mysql to start before ZM.

start() {
sleep 15
echo -n "Starting $prog: "

Step 4. Setup the webcam
I decided to use my old PS3 eyecam as the primary camera for my system as the picture looks great and I had one lying around.
Now it’s mostly just plug and play here but the audio can be a little temperamental so I used this guide to get the audio working too.
Step 5. Configure ZoneMinder
Now here comes the fiddly bit. Configuring ZM to work how you want it.

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