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HasciiCam :: ASCII art for the masses


HasciiCam makes it possible to have live ascii video on the web. It captures video from a tv card and renders it into ascii letters, formatting the output into an html page with a refresh tag, or in a live ascii window, or in a simple text file. It gives the possiblity to anybody that has a bttv card, a unix box and a cheap modem line to show live (h)ascii video can be viewed without any need for extra applications, plugins, java etc.

Long live ASCII art (now even in HTML!)



  • low bandwidth live cam “streaming”
  • command line settings
  • customizable refresh rate
  • amazing live mode
  • gives you the coolest .plan you ever had
  • draws nifty symbols on your face


To run this software you need to have installed a working Free GNU/Linux system, like for instance dyne:bolic.

You can compile HasciiCam from sourcecode or you can look into the list of packages for your GNU/Linux distribution if a compiled version is allready there. You also need to install AA-lib on your system, it is an excellent library used to convert video in ascii letters.

As hardware you need to have a webcam or a videocard supported by “video 4 linux”, most of the gear you can buy around should work well.


Hasciicam is written in plain C and is operated via command line, comes with a comfortable help ( -h option ) and a manual page.

Hasciicam grabs video using Video4Linux2 api: grabs YUV420 and uses the luminance component to obtain a grayscale frame, then renders each frame into (h)ascii using the AA-lib engine, armoring it in an html with a refresh tag.

HasciiCam is written in C and should be portable to various operating systems besides GNU/Linux, still you are strongly advised (is good for your karma) to use it on free GNU systems – and smoke a spliff sometimes.


HasciiCam’s source code stable releases are made available on our FTP at

Many GNU/Linux distributions have packaged hasciicam ready to install.

If you use Debian or Ubuntu, try just apt-get install hasciicam


Hasciicam is an early RASTASOFT creation, JAH BLESS

The (new) code repository is on


Hasciicam.c has been originally written by Jaromil

Jan Hubicka is the creator of AA-Lib,the library used to render video in ASCII

Diego “Rapid” Torres contributed security patches

Matteo “Blended” Scassa contributed support of webcams

Dan Stowell contributed V4L2 support

A vast number of people and organisations have used hasciicam in various installations, scenography, concerts and even televised videos. The Project Polascii ported hasciicam to work even for polaroid photo cameras :^)

Thanks go to:

  • Gerd Knorr – for video4linux
  • Thomas Pfau – for the ftp library
  • Josto “Mathop” Chinelli – help on css with style
  • August Black – io buzz hacking
  • Boffh – usb cams hacking
  • Martin guy – karma to avoid buffer overflows
  • Erich “rat” Berger – for the text dump
  • Pbm & Megabug – watching ascii horizons
  • Alessandro Preite Martinez – Irix/SGI ports




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