Record and publish actions in the shell with asciinema

Shell Screencasts

Article from Issue 238/2020
Author(s):

Asciinema lets you record events at the command line and publish the resulting terminal movie on the web.

A screencast (i.e., a movie of what is happening on screen) helps developers demonstrate their programs to users and is useful for people seeking a way of explaining their problems to a support specialist. On Linux, there are many different solutions for this, such as recordMyDesktop, OBS Studio, or – as in the case of Gnome – the feature is integrated into the desktop environment. But if you only want to record shell commands and their output, you're using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Asciinema [1] can be a good, lean alternative for these cases.

Asciinema consists of three components. The first is the actual recording tool for the command line. The second is a web-based hosting platform for asciinema videos, which is similar to YouTube or image hosts like Imgur.com or Gfycat.com. The third component is a JavaScript player that plays the asciinema videos [2]. Users only need the recorder unless you want to host your asciinema videos on the web yourself; in this case, you would have to set up the server components on a web server.

And … Action

Most current distributions include the screencast recorder for asciinema in their package sources. The application version counter is currently at 2.0.2. Ubuntu 18.04, Debian 10 "buster" (sudo apt install asciinema), and Fedora 28 (sudo dnf install asciinema) at least give you asciinema 2.0.0. More information about the installation, for example for the Python package manager Pip, can be found in the application documentation [3]. Having a recent version is important because the file format of the recordings changed with the release of asciinema 2.0 and many new functions have been implemented [4].

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