How-To: Create Screencasts on (nearly) Any Operating System


Linux users have many options for recording the action on the screen. Here are a few of them:

Option 1: Wink

Price: FREE

As described above, Wink is also available for Linux, though the version is currently stuck at 1.5. The Windows version is currently at 2.0. For simple screencasting, I think I would choose a different option on Linux.

Option 2: Istanbul

Price: FREE

Istanbul is a simple screen recording program that outputs video as an Ogg Theora file. Using Istanbul is so easy that a drunken cockroach could use it. To start recording, click the big red icon. To stop, click the icon again. Got it? You can get fancy if you want by right-clicking the icon to choose options such as the particular icon or area to record.


Istanbul works on GNOME, KDE, XFCE, and others. It’s probably available in your distro’s package repository. I’m using Fedora 7, and Istanbul is a simple yum install istanbul away.

Option 3: recordMyDesktop

Price: FREE

My personal favorite screen recording tool on Linux is recordMyDesktop. It exists in two parts: a command-line tool, and an associated GUI. Like Istanbul, both packages are probably already in your distro’s package repository. In Fedora 7, all you need is:

# yum install gtk-recordmydesktop

That will install both the command-line tool and the front-end. The command-line tool is a breeze to use: simply type recordmydesktop in the Terminal to start recording the full screen. To end recording, press Ctrl+C in the Terminal, and then check your home directory for a file called out.ogg. For (many) more options, see man recordmydesktop.

For you GUI lovers, here is what the main window looks like:


If you want to select an area or window for recording, you may easily do so on the preview image. Click the red button to start recording. I love the ability to pause during the recording. To do so, right-click the recordMyDesktop icon to make it look like this: istanbul-pause.png Right-click it again to resume recording. That’s it!

I was able to maintain pretty solid system performance using recordMyDesktop to capture a 1280×1024 screen on my humble AMD Athlon 2400+ with a gig of RAM. Here’s a link to the video (3.1 MB – Ogg Theora).

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