Screencasts on Linux Made Easy

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

Nov 19, 2008 GMT
Dmitri Popov

Need to create a screencast to demonstrate an application feature or nifty software technique? The easiest way to do this is to install the recordMyDesktop screen recording utility and the gtk-recordMyDesktop graphical front-end to it. Most mainstream Linux distributions include both packages in their repositories, so you can quickly install them using your system's package manager. On Debian-based distros like Sidux, installing both packages is a matter of running the apt-get install recordMyDesktop gtk-recordMyDesktop command.

The utility saves the recorded video as a .ogv file, which is fine if you want to share it with other Linux users. But if you want to share the screencast with the world by uploading it to one of many video services such as YouTube or Vimeo, you have to convert the .ogv file into one of the formats supported by these services. To do this, you need to install two missing pieces first: the mencoder command-line video conversion tool and Windows codecs. Neither Debian nor Ubuntu have these packages in their default repositories, so you have to add a repository containing them. On Sidux (which is based on Debian Sid), you have to add the following repository using either the terminal or Synaptic:

deb sid main

On Ubuntu, you have to add the Medibuntu repository, and the Ubuntu Documentation Wiki explains how to do this. Run then the following command to reload the repository information and install the mencoder and w32codecs packages:

apt-get update
apt-get install mencoder w32codecs

Now you can convert the .ogv screencast into the .avi file using the command below (replace input.ogv and output.avi with the source and target files):

mencoder -idx input.ogv -ovc lavc -oac mp3lame -o output.avi

That's all there is to it.


  • itaka

    itaka is way better
  • tip

    Just a tip, you can upload the files made by recordmydesktop to without any conversions. It'll do them for you and even allow a user to download the original file.
  • type in repo URL

    Fixed! Thank you, rufus.

    Kind regards,
  • type in repo URL

    Hi Dmitri!
    Of course the repo is called - you've been missing out on the "l"
    Best wishes,
  • A Non-Debian version

    Found both the command line version and front end in the official repositories for Mandriva 2008.0, so no doubt many other distros will have it. Haven't used it yet, but thanks for pointing it out.
  • I think

    the poster's comment is more aimed at the fact that other Linux distributions rarely, if ever, get mentioned in these sorts of how tos, making it appear to new Linux users that there is only Canonical's distribution, and that it is Linux.
  • Excellent!

    I learned something today blunk I used to run xwd in a loop....
  • Screencasts on Linux

    I realize that Debian and Ubuntu are not the only Linux distributions out there. Obviously, I can't cover all distros in existence, so I used Sidux and Ubuntu as examples. Also, it should be pretty trivial to figure out how to install and use the described packages on any other Linux distribution.
  • Ubuntu and Debian are not the only linux distribution

    hey author of this article, title says screencast in linux. But is ubuntu and debian are the only linux existing...
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