Dedicated hardware DVR vs Zoneminder, and PC performance

A place for discussion of topics that are not specific to ZoneMinder. This could include Linux, Video4Linux, CCTV cameras or any other topic.
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Dedicated hardware DVR vs Zoneminder, and PC performance

Post by eug » Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:23 am

Strange, this post ended up in the Non-Zoneminder chat forum.. reposting here!

Hi everyone,

My church is after a camera system after the alarm went off in the middle of the night a couple of times. I'm currently deciding between zoneminder on a new decently-spec'ed PC, or a dedicated hardware DVR. Zoneminder definitely has more features, but stability is more important. Barring hardware failure, can I assume it's as stable or more stable than a dedicated hardware DVR?

We're gonna start with maybe 4 - 5 cameras first, then later down the track maybe up to 16 or 20.

I'll most likely use a Kodicom 8800 board off ebay. I would order the one off bluecherry but they want US$70+ for shipping to Australia - no thanks!
I'm hoping to be able to do motion recording on 8 or 16 channels at 10-15fps at a mixture of 702x576 and 352x288 (maybe 50-50). Is that realistic to expect? Some channels may be off a 9100A... those boxes are handy!

The PC will be a Core 2 Duo E6300 2.13GHz, 2GB RAM, 320GB Seagate or WD drive, 945 chipset on an MSI motherboard.

I'm in the process of installing Zoneminder onto a HDD (as opposed to the liveCD) to test. I'm not familiar with how it handles lots and lots of record entries - what happens if i aim a camera at an entrance, resulting in lots and lots of capture events? Will I eventually end up with a list of like 1000 events on a page?


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Post by jamescollings » Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:42 am

Here is the benefit of my experience (Your Mileage May Vary).

My first foray into CCTV was to use a DVR from Swann (an Austrailian company). I wanted to be able to access the images over the net.

The DVR was really simple to set up and I ran it with just a single camera. BUT. The network viewer only ran in windows, and didn't support INTERNET viewing. The DVR would only support a maximum of 4 cameras (a more expensive one would have supported more), but it did allow for audio recording.

Unfortunately, a couple of times the DVR froze (I only noticed because I had a little LCD screen plugged in to monitor the cameras). Finally (at the end of the first week) it crashed, never to return to life!

I sent it back and got my money back... why?... because in my attempts to find a way of accessing the swann over the internet (including talking to Swann's technical guys), I had discovered Zoneminder.

Using an old PC (very old... really should buy something newer) I installed the LiveCD and was up and running quite quickly (not as quick as the DVR... probably 1 hr compared to 10 minutes). The reason it took longer was the install of software, and the configuration of my first motion-detection zone.

But the REAL power of Zoneminder then kicked in. I have some complex zones that ignore flashes of sunlight, but notice every instance of people walking through the zones. With ZM i can "tune" each section of my camera area independently (as opposed to the DVR which just marked an area as on or off - leads to LOADS of false alarms).
I can access my events over the LAN but also over the internet (I often do this while at work). Ok, so there is no sound recorded.... but that isn't the most important feature... and even then, I suspect it'll be added at some point.

Something else that occured to me by reading these fora, is that a thief could come in, and nick the DVR/ZM. Thereby taking the evidence with them... so I set up an ftp of each event (as it is recorded) to a network backup device I run 24x7 in the attic (also backs up my PC's and servers). Can't do THAT with a DVR!

Regarding stability.... since I run VERY old kit and not much memory I have "suffered" from some kernel panics. I can't track down what the problem is, but I suspect it to be memory related. Because I am too "tight fisted" to buy some proper kit (remember, the DVR cost money to buy, but ZM is running on second hand stuff that was heading for the skip) I have just set up 2 things:
1) Auto reboot after a kernel panic (a linux setting)
2) A check every hour from the network backup device.. if the Zoneminder system drops off, then an alert is sent to me.

To summarise: While Zoneminder may not LOOK as "glossy" and "professional" as an expensive DVR... it is a million times BETTER and FLEXIBLE to meet your personal requirements.

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Post by jameswilson » Sun Apr 01, 2007 11:28 pm

zm4ms was written to act as a glossy front end for windows machines. As i felt this too, but the web i/f has improved a lot since i first did it
James Wilson

Disclaimer: The above is pure theory and may work on a good day with the wind behind it. etc etc.

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