It is a challenge to be able to use a webcam if you do not know the right tools. Since almost none of the webcams come with a software for the Linux platform, one really does not get the nifty (most of the times bulky) software interface to control and configure the webcam.
To test if your webcam is recognized and running, run VLC and select Media>Open Capture Device and simply click Play.
If you can see the output in the player, you have a successfully recognized and running webcam. Otherwise check for support for your webcam. Following URLs will come handy:
Now exit VLC, before installing running another webcam software.
To adjust the settings on your webcam install luvcview :
> sudo apt-get install luvcview
Even though you can choose the frame rate for your webcam, the output would not have it in low light conditions, especially if your exposure is set to auto. Set your exposure to non auto, and increase the value of exposure, thus lowering it, and you should have the desired frame rate. One can record the video in this software, but it is audio-less.
Once you set the values in luvcview, it will be remembered, and followed in other applications as well.
To record video try cheese:
>sudo apt-get install cheese
Cheese records in vob format.
That's it. Skype has very good support for webcams in Linux now, and so does Ekiga.