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After some acts vandalism, I want to wire my house with cameras to help with identifying any perpetrators that may break in or vandalize my house, and I want to be able to tell what they took. So maybe a half-dozen cameras indoors and out, recording video in a loop, would get the job done.

I'm not so much interested in real-time viewing as I am after-the-fact investigation, although a split screen monitor in my bedroom might be pretty cool.

My first instinct would be to have the video streamed to a webserver or "the cloud". That way someone that breaks in while you are gone can't just steal or smash your video server hard drive. But if people can tap into your video, they can just as easily use it to case your place, or you might end up naked on Youtube. So storing it or even transmitting the video data off-site gives me the willys. I know you can encypt data, but I'm afraid I would screw it up.

Another option is syncing the video data, possibly encrypted, to a hardened, headless server hidden somewhere on-site, which can be administered by ssh. This seems like a decent idea if you have a good hiding place, but it brings me to the second problem...

I don't know anything about security camera hardware, and I understand that the technology available is improving all the time. Do security cameras send out actual composite video data with an RCA plug? In that case, you would need a many-headed video capture card, and cable lengths would be a problem. Ethernet? Running CAT5 can get expensive. Some proprietary wireless protocol with a dongle? Seems fairly insecure. Wifi? Same. No matter what, I want to avoid lock-in and cheesy proprietary software. I would like to be able to use everything with Linux.