Hi folks! Let me add my own recent experiences and issues to this wonderfully informative thread

I'm using a cheap USB webcam which identifies itself with lsusb as:

BUS 005 Device 002: ID 18ec:3290 Arkmicro Technologies Inc
Until a couple of days ago I was using this reasonably happily on Karmic 9.10 with Skype which I opened with terminal command:

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype &
Apart from the odd times when I forgot to plug the correct USB lead in, this generally worked fairly reliably.

Yesterday, I upgraded from Karmic 9.10 to Natty 11.04. (very nice but it's a new learning curve to find where everything is there! )

OK, so first of all I tried opening Skype in Natty with my same old LD_PRELOAD....vl4l1compat.so code. Result: Skype came up OK but no webcam pic at all, only a blank test screen.

Next I installed Cheese and tried the camera there, and that worked fine.

So then I retried restarting my laptop and starting Skype with the same old LD_PRELOAD again. This time it all worked. Pic was good.

But next time I tried to test the webcam in Skype, it completely crashed and froze my whole Natty.

More tests resulted in about 50% successes and 50% complete Natty freeze-crashes.

At this point I read this thread, moved my /usr/bin/skype to /usr/bin/skype.real and created a new "skype" file using v4l2convert.so thus:

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l2convert.so skype.real
This opens Skype much more nicely than entering LD_PRELOAD... from a terminal every time, but changing to v4l2convert from v4l1compat doesn't seem to have had much effect on the incidence of freeze-crashes when I test my webcam in Skype.

This makes it look as if Natty is much more sensitive than Karmic and crashes very easily when it sees my cheap webcam. Karmic was much more robust. Is this a credible theory do you think? How could I put it to the test?

I notice that the Skype site now has a new version on offer:
"skype-debian_2.2.0.35-1_i386.deb", so maybe this might be an answer? Otherwise maybe it's a new webcam I really need?

Any thoughts or experiences, anyone?