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

Linux

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-image.jpg

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:

recordmydesktop.jpg

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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