A screencast (also known as video screen capture) is a digital recording of computer screen output that usually contains audio narrations. So basically, an application that records a user's screen activities and then saved them in video format is called screencasting software. The program is often used for training, demoing, documentation, and for assessing technical skills.

If you are using Linux and are looking for a screencasting tool that would suit you needs, then you are in luck because there are plenty to choose from. Here are some of most widely used free and open source screencasting software applications that you should check out:


XVidCap

XVidCap is aimed to be a standards-based, free and open source alternative to commercial applications such as Lotus ScreenCam and Camtasia. XVidCap works utilizing an on-line encoding facility with the FFmpeg libavcodec / libavformat. It can capture any movement on an X11 display either as single frames (like a number of JPEG images) or it can encode the captured frames to a video on-line. It can also grab and embed an audio recording provided users have an OSS compatible system and FFMPEG libraries with compiled audio capture support.

Other features of XVidCap:

* Save videos in MPEG or AVI format
* Support for direct VOB creation, Flash Screen Video
* Capture the mouse pointer
* Capture OpenGL accelerated graphics
* Capture a running video (hardware acceleration on the graphics adapter needs to be disabled)
* On-the-fly frame size reduction
* Choose the number of frames to be captured per second
* Dbus remote control application



recordMyDesktop
recordMyDesktop is a software application that is especially made for Linux. It strives to be user-friendly and at the same time effective at its main task. It captures audio/video data of a desktop session, producing an ogg-encapsulated theora-vorbis file. recordMyDesktop tries to be as unobtrusive as possible by processing only regions of the screen that have changed. It has a simple command line tool that performs the basic tasks of capturing and encoding. It also has an interface that exposes the program functionality in a usable way. The GUI frontend comes in two versions: gtk and Qt.

Some of the features of recordMyDesktop:

* On the fly encoding
* Disable compression
* Quick subsampling
* Configurable capture rate
* Directly interface with the ALSA or OSS sound system, or the software can connect to the recording port via the Jack audio server
* Configurable, global shortcuts



Istanbul
Istanbul (named as a tribute to Liverpool's 5th European Cup triumph in Istanbul on May 25th 2005) is a popular desktop session recorder that works on on GNOME, KDE, XFCE and others. It records session into an Ogg Theora video file. You can start and stop the recording by simply clicking on its icon in the notification area. The screencast can be in full screen or just the specific part of the screen. It sits in the task bar and lets the user select an area or a particular window to record. Istanbul inherits its screen capturing ability from the GStreamer plugins.

Here are some of its main features:

* Ability to select a window to record
* Ability to start a screencast from the command line
* Live recording of audio synchronised with the screencast video
* Uses gconf to store settings
* Stream to Icecast2 servers
* Encode at a later date
* Disable recording the mouse pointer
* Enable 3D captures



Those were the three excellent free and open source screencasting software programs that I've tried so far, but I've heard that Cankiri and vnc2swf are also good so I may have to check them out soon.

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