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Screen Recording in Linux with SimpleScreenRecorder

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Recording your Linux desktop is a much sought after feature, for both gamers and business professionals alike. Simple Screen Recorder, as the name implies, is a simple yet solid screen recording tool. Learn all about it in this article.

What Is SimpleScreenRecorder (SSR)?

SimpleScreenRecorder (in short SSR) is a utility which lets you easily and in a straightforward fashion record your Linux desktop. It is available for many Linux operating systems as a directly installable package, or one can even self-compile by following the steps on the SSR GitHub page.

SSR Also offers all features one needs, like multi-screen recording, without over complicating the interface. The main SSR interface is sleek and well designed:

SimpleScreenRecorder 0.3.11 input options dialog box

Installing SimpleScreenRecorder

To install SimpleScreenRecorder on your Debian/Apt based Linux distribution (Like Ubuntu and Mint), execute the following command in your terminal:

sudo apt install simplescreenrecorder

If you want to also record 32-Bit OpenGL applications on 64-Bit based operating systems, you should also execute the following:

sudo apt-get install simplescreenrecorder-lib:i386

There is also a PPA repository (works for both Ubuntu and Mint), enabling you to get the latest version easily:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:maarten-baert/simplescreenrecorder
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install simplescreenrecorder

The current version in the main Mint 20 repository is 0.3.11 whereas if you install the PPA, the version is 0.4.3. The full changelog is available on the GitHub repository.

The latest version has a handy ‘Skip this page’ option for the introduction page. Additionally, there is a new ‘Record entire screen with cursor’ option, and V4L2 device recording option. This is how the new interface looks in comparison with the 0.3.11 interface above:

SimpleScreenRecorder 0.4.3 input interface

For installation options for other operating systems, you can consult the Download section of the SimpleScreenRecorder page on the developer’s website.

The SSR Input Profile

Using SimpleScreenRecorder is straightforward and easy. Once you start the application, after closing the introduction page (which can be skipped in the later versions), a simple dialog box is shown which enables one to quickly select any necessary setting changes. Let’s look at main options we will likely use in detail:

Video input selection in SSR

The Video input selection allows you to set the recording window to either a specified screen, all screens, to a fixed rectangle etc. We can also follow the cursor, and once we select this option the handy ‘Record entire screen with cursor’ tick box becomes available. We can also record OpenGL and even a V4L2 device (for example a webcam or capture card) directly.

Next, we can set our frame rate and any scaling options:

SSR Frame rate selection and scaling

A frame rate of 20-30 should suffice for making business presentations etc. You may want to increase this number a bit for fluid motion in gaming. We can also select whether we want to record Audio and select the Audio input source:

SimpleScreenRecorder Audio Settings

The SSR Output Profile

When one is done with configuration the input profile, it can be saved with the Save option at the top of the dialog box, and clicking the Next button to continue, will lead us to the output profile selections.

SimpleScreenRecorder Output Profile Dialog

Here we can set the filename to save the recording to (1), and select the video container format we will use for doing so (2). Other video container options available are MP4, WebM, OGG and even an ‘Other’ selection which lets you select any other container format available on the system.

Next up we can select our codec (best left at H.264 with a matching Matroska (MKV) or MP4 container format selected above, unless you have a good understanding of video codecs and containers).

Next we select the (important) constant rate factor (3). A lower value for the constant rate factor (CRF) will result in a better quality, with 0 being lossless, though this goes matched with a larger resulting file size for the recording. A range of 15-23 is usually the happy medium.

We can next set our video preset (4), where again a slower selection will result in better quality, though the machine may be significantly taxed more in the process. The best idea is to always test a few different setting combinations, and see what the eventual recordings looks like.

We can also select or Audio codec (5) and bit rate (6). A bit rate of 128 Would give reasonable audio quality, though a setting of 192 or higher may give better audio quality. Going about 256 is not recommended for standard recordings.

The SSR Recording Interface

When one is done with configuring the output profile, it can be saved with the Save option at the top of the dialog box, and clicking the Next button to continue, will lead us to the final recording interface.

Main SimpleScreenRecorder Recording Interface

In this dialog, we immediately start recording (1) if we choose to do so. It will also allow us to cancel recording (4), which takes us back to the previous screen (the Output Profile selection dialog). Once the recording is finished, it can be saved (5), and we can even start a real time preview (7). The real time preview can be very handy for getting an idea of the area which will be recorded, and to see if the audio input is working well and not to soft/loud:

SimpleScreenRecorder Recording Preview

We can set a schedule (6) using the scheduling option (Edit schedule button) and activate the same. We can also see a detailed events log (3) which can help with troubleshooting audio and video if things should go amiss.

Finally, the real time information overview in (2) gives a lot of handy information about how our recording is going/working whilst it recording, and partial information (like the number shown in FPS in, showing us the number of input frames per second) whilst we are previewing our selections, but not recording yet.

Wrapping up

Maarten Baert, the developer of SimpleScreenRecorder has created a powerful and comprehensive screen recorder which has outgrown it’s name in functionality but not in simplicity. The software is simple, stable, available on many Linux operating systems, can easily be upgraded and is feature rich. I can warmly recommend it as a must-have, free and solid, screen recording software. Enjoy!

Roel Van de Paar Roel Van de Paar
Roel has 25 years experience in IT & business, 9 years of leading teams, and 5 years in hiring & building teams. He worked for companies like Oracle, Volvo, Sun, Percona, Siemens, Karat and now MariaDB in various senior, principal, lead and managerial roles. Read Full Bio »

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