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Create a Free Software Baby Monitor with Zoneminder

Motivation

When trying to figure out what baby monitor to buy, I found that there are three types of baby monitors: “cloud”-based monitors, IP cameras, and short-range RF monitors without network connectivity. The first two are capable of being accessed remotely, but the last one can only be accessed from within a few hundred feet. The “cloud”-based monitors are convenient but are a huge invasion of privacy because they give a third party access to your baby monitor. If you want to be able to view your baby monitor remotely without sacrificing your privacy, I have found the best choice is using an IP camera and using a free software package called zoneminder to access it.

Prerequisites

On Debian 9 GNU/Linux, install the zoneminder package.

sudo apt-get install -y zoneminder
Enable Web Interface

To enable the web interface, simply enable the zoneminder configuration in apache2 and tell it to reload.

sudo a2enconf zoneminder
sudo systemctl reload apache2
Hardening Zoneminder

Click the Options link in the upper right hand corner, navigate to the Users tab, and click the “Add New User” button. Give the user full permissions and delete the default user. Then navigate to the System tab and enable OPT_USE_AUTH to enable authentication.

Adding a Monitor

Note that the specific settings you want to choose may vary depending on the model of your IP camera. To add a monitor, click the “Add New Monitor” button, choose a unique name for the monitor, and select the Ffmpeg source type. Navigate to the source path and set the source path to “rtsp://user:password@hostname”. Navigate back to the general tab, enable the monitor, and click save.