Video/Movie screen capture programs for Ubuntu Linux

Date: 17 Mar, 2008
Posted by: admin
In: linux, open source & software

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Well, I thought it would be nice to do some demo’s for using Inkscape. First up though I need to find a decent way to create video screencaps, preferably with audio and notes – though a video editor could be used later with the resulting video.

I used Google and Sourceforge to expand my search and limited the contenders to those with Linux versions. The top app on SF was VirtualDub but it’s Windows only.

Contenders are:

  3. : I got my package from the getdeb site.
  4. : Wink version 2 is currently only available for Windows, which might suggest a move away from Linux.
  5. : they call video captures “screencasts”. Their Producer and Player applications aren’t currently available for Linux.

So I went through this list and looked for apps I could easily install in Ubuntu. Since moving away from Slackware ease of installation has featured highly on my useful characteristics list for new applications to use.

My choice of package manager on Ubuntu is Synaptic, my repos (these are both in the Ubuntu 7.10, aka Gutsy, Universe) had krecordmydesktop and istanbul in them already so it was just a couple of clicks to install both of these.


First I tried Istanbul. It very discretely opened to give a small “record” button in my tray. I didn’t even notice it at first it was so discrete. Left-click to record a screen capture video. Right-click for menu. Menu options include the ability to record sound, record the mouse cursor, record 3D, etc.. The small tray icon changes from a record logo to a “stop” logo and then to a “saving to disk” logo.

My test finished with the “can’t stop recording” bug and a trip to the relevant bugzilla page for bug number 418841 on Istanbul.

Recording without sound works fine incidentally, but I was rather hoping to add a commentary without to much faff, so let’s try the next app.


The KDE-ed version of recordmydesktop (a command line tool) worked pretty well. It too just starts with a tray icon – I can’t just click to start recording instead there is a right-click menu. One of the menu items gives a Preferences dialog with some basic adjustments for video and audio quality and some more admin preferences like where to save the working files (default is /tmp), number of frames per second. One nag here is that there are two buttons “OK” and “Save” but they don’t follow the KDE standard which appears to be to have OK, Cancel and Default buttons.

Test recording went fine. Created a pretty large file, I’ll have to have a tweak of the quality settings, these appear to be a little too basic not really giving a firm hint as to what effect will be produced with each setting – also the KDE version uses sliders, these variables are not continuous but instead vary form 0 to 63 for video and-1 to 10 for audio (see man page for recordmydesktop for more details).

So there you go, my initial choice: [K]RecordMyDesktop.

Here’s an example of the output you get, this is with no sound (can’t “find” my microphone input!) and with the video quality setting just below half way down. Pretty neat, this OGG file came in at 3.2MB, remember the reencoding for YouTube will have added some artefacts and degraded quality a bit too.

This has been a pretty blunt approach to choosing but it appears to have produced a reasonable result non-the-less.

5 Responses to "Video/Movie screen capture programs for Ubuntu Linux"

JackieK says:

Hey buddy, found your post via google, great help, thanks!

Tetue says:

Nice help! I will probe this one!

azrael says:

Hi, thanks for saying about that utility – god one, but have you tried to record compiz-fusion effects ? because when i launch recordmudesktop (on gnome)framerates drop about 50 -100 times ( i get about 200 fps on compiz-fusion benchmark, but while recording i fer about 2-7 fps :( ) am i doing something wrong ?

Chris McKay says:

Nah, you’re not doing anything wrong. Compiz and this app both just take up a fair amount of video processing, and at the same time, have to share bus width with each other when you run them simultaneously. I’d expect frame rates of <20 fps even with a fairly quick graphics card.

Incidentally, recording audio does have one problem – it records audio out of sync with the video, for most people. Lowering video settings may help (audio runs faster than video, and ends early). As near as I can calculate, video runs about 85%-90% the speed of audio, at least on my systems.

Annoying, but nothing that can’t be fixed with proper av editing software.


[…] written elsewhere about video screen capture (a.k.a. screencast) applications. This is KDE4 […]


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