Software to Record Linux Tutorials

Today Dan writes:

Matt I have long wavered between Linux Mint/Ubuntu/Windows. With the onslaught of privacy invasion from Windows 10. The decision has been made to run desktops from Linux Mint and keep my headless Ubuntu Servers. My question: what apps do you use to record/stream your desktop while using your camera to insert your face live on the bottom right of your screen. As you are a podcast guru, I would like your suggestions on apps and any tips as I am planning on creating a few how to’s for my family in Linux Mint because they have all decided to go that route as well. A few how to’s will save me time in repeating things over and over and enlighten me in an area I’ve wanted to explore for some time. Keep up the good work, your team’s articles are very appreciated and well written.

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the kind words. And congrats on moving your family over to Linux. Once you have a distro setup and keep it maintained, it’s so much easier in terms of avoiding malware or junk software. Getting to your question.

I like to use SimpleScreenRecorder, Audacity and then I edit stuff with Kdenlive. There are a few different approaches you can take here. For example, if you’re doing tutorials with a less than powerful PC, you can record the audio on another PC while capturing video demonstrations from the more powerful PC. My PC is thankfully powerful enough to capture everything on a single box. This allows me to achieve the desired result without skipping a beat.

The approach I use to capture my webcam video is a bit unusual. And since this will likely come up in the comments, I should point out that you can achieve the same effect using FFmpeg. In my case, I prefer to use MPlayer without a window border. I do this by using the following command from a hidden Tilda window.

mplayer -cache 128 -tv driver=v4l2:width=640:height=360 -vo xv tv:// -noborder -geometry "95%:93%" -ontop

The above command launches MPlayer using v4l2 with a width/height of 640/360. The positioning is handled by the “geometry” option. If you find this slows your PC down too much, you can use Kdenlive in post production to add a composited window over the main video footage. This would allow you to record the webcam footage using software like Cheese or Guvcview. Speaking for myself, I recommend the MPlayer, VLC or FFmpeg method.

Remember, you can play with the above MPlayer variables to find the positioning and size you want. The variables I recommend testing out are width/height and geometry.

When recording audio and video separately, I like to clap loudly so I can match the clap audio with the webcam video. This provides a poor-man’s syncing option. In terms of how to best capture the audio, I recommend any typical noise-canceling USB headset with a microphone. Unlike a microphone, you will have full head mobility which will make it a more relaxed experience when you make your recordings.

The last thing I recommend installing is pavucontrol. This volume control tool is far more robust than the default on any popular desktop environment. It allows you to go farther than simply defaulting output and input settings. With a device playing or recording, you can better control what is playing or capturing the audio with the Playback and Recording tabs.

At a later date, I will provide a complete walk through the process I use. But if you’re comfortable using Linux, everything above will get you going just fine in creating your family tutorials.

Do you have Linux questions you’d like Matt to help with? Hit the link here and perhaps you too, can Just Ask Matt!

Matt Hartley
Freedom Penguin’s founder & talking head – Matt has over a decade working with Linux desktops, his operating system experience consists of both Windows and Linux operating platforms. In addition to writing articles on Linux and open source technology for Datamation.com and OpenLogic.com/wazi, Matt also once served as a co-host for a popular Linux-centric podcast.

Matt has written about various software titles, such as Moodle, Joomla, WordPress, openCRX, Alfresco, Liferay and more. He also has additional Linux experience working with Debian based distributions, openSUSE, CentOS, and Arch Linux.

6 thoughts on “Software to Record Linux Tutorials”

  1. I personally use OBS Studio. The cross-platform version of the old OBS. (Open Broadcaster Software.) Despite the name, it can record as well. It gives you all this in the GUI, easily. It requires ffmpeg and at least OpenGL version 2.x or greater. (So, really old hardware – especially without a dedicated GPU. Don’t bother.)

    The official PPA for Ubuntu/Debian:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:obsproject/obs-studio
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install obs-studio

      • I actually thought about recently, making a beginners guide to OBS Studio. But as mentioned before, if you have – really, really old hardware like me. The only reason I can run OBS Studio, is because I’ve a Nvidia GPU. (PCIE.) My CPU is a QuadCore Q8800 series. That only supports 1.2 OpenGL.
        – But yes. ffmpeg, can be used for everything as once. It’s a real powerful tool. You can even capture multiple audio streams directly with the command line options.
        You did give a good answer. 🙂
        However, I find OBS Studio to be much more user friendly. For those who aren’t a pro in the terminal.

  2. Years ago, I used RecordMyDesktop… was quite intuitive, and nicely optimized for normal (not hardware accelerated) apps. Had it’s limitations though, and YouTube didn’t really like the .ogv format, which was the only option of export in RecordMyDesktop.

    If I had to record hardware accelerated apps, I used FFmpeg from command line.

    But that was years ago, now I’m using OBS Studio… a bit more powerful, a lot more flexible, a bit high hardware requirements. Other than that, a very similar setup to the one from the article – Audacity, pavucontrol, mplayer (with the SMPlayer frontend), Pitivi for simple editing, LiVES for more complex editing.

    And as a somewhat related topic – while I’ve been using YouTube for years, my first videos uploaded in 2007, it seems more and more people are dissatisfied with it’s policies, the way they treat viewers and authors, and the way their site tends to break with unfixed bugs. Typical for a monopolist. Therefore it’s probably a good idea to move away from them, or at least upload to multiple video hosting sites. Some folks I know for example moved to vid.me
    Do you have experience with any other video hosting sites?

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