ZoneMinder Open Source Profile

By: Brian Karas, Published on Nov 06, 2017

The first, oldest and probably the best known open source VMS is ZoneMinder.

But where has it gone and is it still relevant today in a world of $200 NVRs and various free VMS options?

IPVM spoke with ZoneMinder's lead developer, Isaac Connor [link no longer available], about the current state of the project, and how he is hoping to grow ZoneMinder's installation base, and also create a sustainable revenue model.

We analyze the strengths and weaknesses of ZoneMinder as an option for those looking for a low-cost VMS with advanced features and formal support.

*** *****, ****** *** probably *** **** ***** open ****** *** ************.

*** ***** *** ** gone *** ** ** still ******** ***** ** a ***** ** $*** NVRs *** *********** *** *******?

**** ***** **** **********'* lead *********, ***** ****** [**** no ****** *********], ***** *** current ***** ** *** project, *** *** ** is ****** ** **** ZoneMinder's ************ ****, *** also ****** * *********** revenue *****.

** ******* *** ********* and ********** ** ********** as ** ****** *** those ******* *** * low-cost *** **** ******** features *** ****** *******.

[***************]

ZoneMinder **********

*** ***** ******* *** launched ** ****, *** efforts ** * ****** developer, ****** *******. ***** the ******* ***** ** stagnate, **********'* ******* **** developer, *** ******* ***** to * ***, ***** ****** [link ** ****** *********], **** over *********** *** ******* in ****. ***** *** previously ****** ** ********** part-time, ********* ***** ********** projects, *** *** ***** primarily ** ********* *** supporting *** ********, ***** with * ***** **********.

ZoneMinder ********

************ * *****-***** ***, released ***** ****** ****** ******* (***). ** *******, **** means **** ****** *** use ** ****** *** software *** ******* ** commercial ************, ** **** as **** **** ******* the ****** **** *** the ********, *** *** personal ************ **** **** to *** ****** ****.

***** *** ** ******* requirements, ** ************ ************, and ** *********** ** the ****** ** ******* that *** ** ******** to * ******, ** the ****** ** *******, beyond *********** ** *** server ******** ********. 

*** **** ********* ** web-based, *** ***** *** no ***** ******* ********, or *********. **** ****** it ** *** ** most ********* ******/******* ************.

********* ** *** *********, the ******* ************ ******** around ** *******, ****** they ** **** **** large ******** ** ** the ***** ** ******* thousand *******.

 

Revenue/Growth ********

** *** **** ****** model ****** **********'* ******* to ****** *** *** software ******, *** ******* offers **** ******* ******* as *** ******* ****** of *******. **** ******* ** also ********* *** *****/****** session *** $***/**, **** a **% ******** *** a ** **** ***** of *******. *** ****** users, ********** ******* *** also ********* *** * "support ********" ***** ***********.

* ******* ****** **** ** also *********, ***** *** $50/month **********'* ********** **** login ** ******** ******* monthly ** ****** ******** and ****** ******* *********, making ****** ******* ***** necessary. **** ******* ****** plan ** ****** ** be **** **** ********** to ********** *********, ******* ** feel *** ******* ******* may ** *** *** to ** ******** *** that ********** ***** ****** charge **** *** **** service.

Other ******* *******

*** ***** *** ******* to *** *** *******, there *** **** ******* available *** ****** ****** *** *************

Feature ********

********** *** ******* ******** ****** with ********** *****, *********:

  • ******* *** *** **** for ****** ******
  • *****/********
  • ******-**** ****** *********
  • ******** ********* ******* (********, motion-only, ******** **** ****** bookmarks, ****)
  • ***** ***-***
  • ***** ******
  • ************ ******** *** **** bandwidth *** *** ********* monitoring (*.*., ***** ** remote)

*** *** ******* **** is *** ********* ** many ***** ** * fully ****-**** *********, ******** integrators ** ********* *** look ** *** ******** with ***** *** ******** to **** ********** ****** as ***** *** ********.

*******, ********** ***** ****** integrations **** ****** ******* systems, ***** ******, ***** analytics, ** **** ***** 3rd ***** *******. ***** there ** ** *** for *** ***** *******, being **** ********** ** relatively ******* *** ******* ****** to *** ****** **** ZoneMinder ************ *** ***** to ** *****.

***** **** **** **** ZoneMinder's ****** ************ ******** limited, **** ** ******* for ******-***** ****** ***** custom ******* *****, ****** users *** ********* '******', which *** *********** ******-********* bookmarks.

User *********

** ********* *****, *** interface *** ********** ** browser-based. ** **** * responsive ****** *** ** a ***** **** ** ZoneMinder **** ******* ***** ******* PC *** ****** ********, viewing **** ******* *** recorded ***** ****** ****.

****-**** ***** ******* ***** access ** ******* ****** configurations *** **** *******, and ******* *** ******* the ****** ***** ** or **** ** ****. There ** **** *** ability ** ****** **** High ********* ******* **** to *** ********* ****, which ******* ***** **** and ********** *** **** viewing.

Resource *********

********* ** *** *********, ZoneMinder *** ** ******** resource ********* *** **** CPU *** ***. ***** should ********** * ********* core *** ***** * cameras (***-*****, **-*****). ******* of *** *** *** software ******* ***** ******, it *** **** ** RAM *********, *** *** require ****** ********** *** to ******* ***********. ***** issues *** ***** *********, and *** *** ** the *** ********** ** enhance *** ********* ** ZoneMinder ** * *****-***** option, ********* ** *** developer.

************/*****

*** ***** *** ******** with *****, **** *** "**** ***" ************ ******* *** be ********, ** ********** relies ** * ****** of ******** ******** **** as *****, ******, ******, etc. **** ** ***** packages *** ******* ********** installation ***/** ************* ******, depending ** *** ******.

******* *** **** ******** installed *** ******* ** the ***** **** ******* can ** ***** ** likely ** **** ****** than ********** * *******-***** VMS *******, ***** ***** to ******* *** ******** dependencies *** ****** ************** automatically. *********** **** ****** to *****/******* ********** ********* could *** ***** **** disk ***** ****** ** homebrew ******* ** **** the ******* **** *********.

********** **** ***** *** some ******** ************* *******, including *** ******* ** specify ******* ********* ** a ***-****** *****, ****** and **** ******, ** embed ********** **** *** video *****:

 

Best ******* ******** *********

***** *********** ******* **** of ************, *** ********** basic ****** *************, ** would ** **** *********** against ******** ********* **** a ************* *********** **** against ********** ***** **** Exacq ** *********. ******* integrators *** ****** **** hardware **** **** ** use *** **********, ** would **** ******* *********** over ****/*********** **** ******** recorders **** ***-****-****-*** ********.

Upcoming ************

**** ** *** ******* development **** ** ******* on ****** *** ************ process ****** *** ******** resource ************. *** ********** hope **** **** *** more ****** ** ******** ZoneMinder ** ** *********** to ***** *** *********, and **** ******** **** amount ** ******* ** well ** **** ***** efforts. ** **** *** more ******* **** ******* there *** ***** ** hire ********* ******* ********* to **** *** ********** focus ** ******.

ZoneMinder ** ********** ********

********** *** ******** ******** in ***** ** ******** integrators ** ***** * customized *** **** **** licensing *****. ******** *** developers ******* ******** ************ to help ******** *** ****** of ******* **** *** be ********* ** * single ******, *********** ***** **** ZoneMinder ** ********** *** alternative *** *** ********. However, *** ******** ***** is ****** ** ** quite ****, *** **** ****** the ******** ** ****, ** may *** ** ** attractive **** ******** ** using ***** ***** ***** like ***** *****, ** ********* *********, ***** ** **** free (****** ******** ****** registration *******) ** ***** is **** ******** ** hardware ********* **** ** be ********* *** * given ****** *****.

 

Comments (19)

Thank you for this article and a big nod to the Zoneminder team for their work and effort.

 

One part caught my attention...

... they do have some large installs up to the range of several thousand cameras

Several thousand? All managed within the same instance? Would love to know more. While I don't see technical issues that would prevent this (if you can configure storage with such granularity), I'd be interested if such big installations are also centrally managed, or are they composed of smaller bits that are managed separately.

The several thousand camera systems use many servers.  My work has been to make ZM a distributed system.  So 1 db server, many recording servers, 1 or more client interface servers, etc.  Generally they are managed through 1 interface or directly to each server.

Thanks, it's nice to know it can handle such scale. It's been many years since I tried ZM the last time, but back then I would have considered it one hell of an effort to bend it to such, the biggest problems being compatibility with 100+ models so that we can actually use the features on the cameras we paid for (getting a JPEG every few seconds is easy, the rest not so much), plus needing it to be accessible for people who think even Avigilon is way too difficult to use.

Though I guess with Enterprise scale there's really no "best" solution available, just many flavours of pain to pick from. At least this one wouldn't try to grab all your money before the inevitable descent to madness.

How is Shinobi as a NVR w.r.t. ZoneMinder?

Shinobi is a nice node.js wrapper around ffmpeg.  It seems to work well, but does not have all the features of ZoneMinder.  It probably has some ones that ZM does not though.  It's author is more than happy to tell you all about how awesome it is and how crappy ZoneMinder is.  We prefer to spend our time making ZM better, so I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on it further as I just don't spend time evaluating it.

Perhaps IPVM should do an independent evaluation.

We have been tracking Shinobi, and it, like ZoneMinder, are prominently listed in the free VMS software directory.

As for evaluating either, my main concern is how any open source / free VMS can compete against the combination of low-cost NVRs and commercial larger scale offerings. Because of the strength of those substitutes, I find it hard to see how Shinobi or ZoneMinder can become more than niche players.

I am happy to hear how things are improving or what I might be missing, but that is the concern.

I'd like to point out here that niche needs require niche players. Not a single VMS exists on this planet that would cater to all of those needs, and quite often they don't even meet the most basic of demands, but there's simply nothing better around. When it's a matter of big scale and few people, appallingly few pieces of software come even close to be taken seriously.

I'm talking about the scale of 1 person per 1000 cameras or more and without a bottomless supply of money. If ZoneMinder or any other FOSS software would implement the basics so that it's robust enough, it would disrupt the Enterprise game and perhaps create an integrator industry of its own, let alone liberate people to implement their systems as they please.

If you get an actual choice between:

- "requires tech competence and DIY, but it's free and you're not bound to whims of some corporate entity" (consider Linux servers)

OR

- "helplessly complain about problems to said entity for years and pay 100k+ for every upgrade" (consider Windows servers)

... which would you choose, assuming there was an option? The choice is obviously - unfortunately - not there yet, but the work ZM people are doing is laying a foundation for it. If there already are systems with thousands of cameras using this software, it's not about whether it can be done, it's more about making it the de facto solution and making the other vendors the niche players, who provide something that the free solution understandably doesn't cater for.

P.S. The above has nothing to do with "average" use, or low-cost NVRs or small scale business in general. They are in a different ballpark entirely, but who knows, maybe some day they will run ZoneMinder too.

If you get an actual choice between:

- "requires tech competence and DIY, but it's free and you're not bound to whims of some corporate entity" (consider Linux servers)

OR

- "helplessly complain about problems to said entity for years and pay 100k+ for every upgrade" (consider Windows servers)

... which would you choose, assuming there was an option? The choice is obviously - unfortunately not there yet, 

And it may never be there, ergo why it's not an 'actual choice'. If ZoneMinder or some other free / open VMS can get to that level, great but the problem remains of economics, i.e., how can ZoneMinder fund itself to scale up to be in that position?

As a personal learning goal, I would like to use this as a tool or pathway to learning many disciplines of IT where the end product would be a nostalgic command line only VMS...

Oooh... Zoneminder should perhaps have a libcaca based viewer too..

So much bandwidth saved!

OMG.  Takes me back to ascii DOOM. 

 

If someone does the work, I'll merge the patch!

So bizarre it's hilarious.

Can ZoneMinder record H.264 streams now?

As I remember last time I read about it, there was only some side-branch of development supporting this while official release only could decode H.264 streams and re-encode them into MJPEG?

Never found out how to install "H.264 video storage branch"... :(

Our current stable release does not store h264.  Our current development build does, and my current development does even more (your choice of storage, mkv, whatever).

 

There is a lot of refactoring of code going on, which should reduce ram & cpu usage. I want to get it done before I start spending time on a release.  (releasing and supporting take a lot of time). 

 

So maybe in a month or two our stable release will have that, but for now our stable release has been all about stability, not features.

 

That being said, we make it pretty easy to run development builds, and they are pretty stable.

 

Thank you Isaac for your contributions to open source work!

Thank you for your explanations, Isaac.

 

Where can I dind that development build for testing purposes?

Do I have to compile it from sources?

If running on ubuntu we have nightly packages available using a ppa at ppa:iconnor/zoneminder-master

My development builds are available using

ppa:iconnor/zoneminder-storageareas

 

Builds for centos/fedora/etc are at zmrepo.zoneminder.com

Thank you!

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