Screencasting in Ubuntu

I’ve done my first screencast in Ubuntu using gtk-record My Desktop, a tool that records desktop sessions in Linux. I’ve long wanted to do screencasts in Ubuntu ever since I installed Feisty Fawn or the 7.04 release but I haven’t been successful in my initial attempts.

I first tried capturing desktop sessions into movie files using xvidcap but I couldn’t get it to work properly. All the videos I produced using it were jerky, as if the capture rate is just a frame for every two seconds. I spent days playing around with the settings, to no avail.

I was on the verge of accepting the idea that I may have to use Windows XP and Camstudio to produce screencasts to accompany some of my blog articles when I decided to give gtk-recordMyDesktop a try.

I spotted the program during the days I tried looking for ways to do screencasts in Ubuntu but I just filed it away as something to check later because it produces Ogg-encapsulated Theora-Vorbis files and the free video hosts I wanted to use for screencasts, Vimeo and Revver, do not accept .ogg files. I’m lazy and a non-geek and my impression of video conversions in Linux is that the process is rather complicated. (Blogger’s Note: see update below)

After giving up on making xvidcap, which produces mpeg files, work in my laptop, I tried gtk-recordMyDesktop. I gave it a go after finding out that accepts .ogg files.

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Showing Windows the door

I’m now running Ubuntu Feisty Fawn beta on my main blogging gear – an MSI S260 laptop – and I haven’t stopped saying “wow” since when I finished installing it late Monday night.

I’ve used Ubuntu before, but mainly as a local server and the experience can be summarized as: boot CD, choose server setup, follow on-screen instructions, configure settings, then connect from my Windows PC.

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn desktop MY NEW WORKSTATION. Ubuntu running on my main blogging gear, an MSI S260 laptop. Click on photo to view larger image.

I’ve never gotten around to using Ubuntu as a desktop despite a long standing entry in my to-do list to do just that. I’ve tried its live CD and tinkered with desktops installed with it but for a long time I lived in a Windows-centric world–office PC, home unit, and laptop. What has stopped me from using Ubuntu sooner is my dependence on such applications as Photoshop and InDesign for newsroom work.

I’ve also been set back by my reliance on the open source Float’s Mobile Agent (FMA) to manage my Sony Ericsson K750i. When I’m at the office, my phone is, more often than not, connected to the PC and being managed by FMA. I use the program to send, receive, and archive messages as well as manage my contacts and calendar entries. When I’m on the field, FMA saves me a lot of time sending messages while writing stories.

FMA currently runs only on Windows but I found an old post in the support forum that said a developer was able to make it run in Linux using Wine.

Last Monday, I decided to wipe out Windows from my laptop and use the Ubuntu Feisty Fawn beta release. The IT staff assigned to the newsroom suggested I use a dual-boot setup and retain a Windows partition but I was bent on having an Ubuntu-only system.

I’m no geek, and the only sudo I know ends with “ko” but with the holidays, I figured I’d have enough time to tinker with my laptop if the installation goes awry.

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