I tried to join a Google Hangouts meeting and my laptop’s webcam didn’t turn on. The settings in Hangouts didn’t let me choose a camera, instead reading “Camera Not Found”. This happened in Firefox, so I tried Chrome, with the same result.

Was the problem with Firefox? Chrome? Linux? Hardware?!

Fortunately, I found a straightforward solution: I had accidentally deactivated my webcam. Stupid me. Press Fn+F10 to reactivate it.

On my laptop’s keyboard, if I press Fn+F10, this toggles the webcam on/off. I presume that this makes it easy to cut the webcam very quickly. I like the feature, but I had never paid attention to it, and since F10 sits beside F9, and F9 is “increase brightness”, I probably accidentally grazed F10 and got no visible feedback that I had done it, and then I’d forgot about it until I tried to use the camera.

I looked around for commands to help me detect that I had pressed Fn+F10, but I couldn’t find any. Please tweet me if you know how to do that! Not modprobe [-r] uvcvideo, which seems to provide another layer of activate/deactivate. If I press Fn+F10, then lsmod still lists the webcam device, so that doesn’t help me. Maybe the Fn+F10 key combination is a hardware switch in the laptop somewhere? I’d like to learn more.