Download YouTube videos (Linux)

Want to know how to download a YouTube video? Just go and watch the video! It’ll automatically be downloaded for you. Let me explain further…

While you watch the video on the web it is being downloaded for you to your /tmp directory. Try it out:

  1. go watch any YouTube video
  2. go to /tmp
  3. you’ll find a mysterious file name there without any extension reference. Double click and you should see that is is your video. If you’d like change the file name to something you’ll remember better and move it to whichever folder you want.

The  file downloaded will be .flv so if you want another format later on, please use a converter app.

Screencasting on Linux – recordMyDesktop

Doing a basic screencast in Linux is pretty easy. The package recordMyDesktop can be found easily on the repository of many Linux distros (including Ubuntu 9.04 that I use).

With this package you’re actually getting the backend recordMyDesktop which is written in C and the frontend developed in Python (gtk-recordMyDesktop or qt-recordMyDesktop).

The feature list is simple but that is all I needed for a quick screencast demo I had to prepare this afternoon:

  • record the entire screen or just a specific window;
  • record audio (with channel and frequency settings);
  • adjust fps;
  • include mouse pointer, “follow the mouse” recording, include window decoration (or not), and tooltips.


The closing added bonus, it records directly in theora / vorbis!

Recording is done with a simple click on the “record” button and than on the panel you’ll see an icon where you can quickly pause, resume and stop the recording. Easy and simple. on Symbian phones

I’m a big enthusiast (although it isn’t open source) so I try to install a scrobbler on every single media player I use. It took a bit of time for me to find a Symbian client and mobbler it was.

mobblerMobbler works like a charm! It recognizes and scrobbles songs being played by the phone’s native media player, plus I get all of the cool features such as:

  • “love this track”;
  • “ban track”;
  • direct link to Amazon’s music store (if your region has one);
  • set to play radio stations (neighbor, recommended, artist or tag defined).

If you’re on a limited data plan, Mobbler can be set to scrobble offline and queue the data to be sent until you’re on wi-fi.

For some reason I can’t listen to the radio when I’m on my 3G connection, must be some nasty restriction of my mobile carrier (I’ll make sure to complain to them).

Converting .mp4 to .ogv format

Over these past 2 days I recorded some videos on my Symbian cell phone that I wanted to share with my family back home. Problem is that the videos are saved in .mp4 format, which gave me some problems when trying to edit them (video editors I tried to use didn’t support mp4).

So, as we speak I’m converting these files to .ogv with ffmpeg. Linux command line work is involved but just writing one very simple line:

  • ffmpeg2theora file.mp4

Simple as that! My movie files are nicely converted. There are a bunch of other cool functions you can do with ffmpeg such as changing bitrate, video size, specific audio or video codec.

Later I’m ging to try this Mencoder tip to join several video files.

Listen to ogg on your Symbian device

As an open source fan, I make my audio CDs portable in .ogg (.oga) format. Problem is that unfortunately .ogg isn’t as popular as it should be right now so sometimes it can be difficult to find a decent player, which is exactly what happened with my new Symbian cell phone.

Symbian OggPlay to the rescue, I was able to solve the issue. OggPlay can play.ogg, .oga, .flac (haven’t tested it myself yet), and .mp3. It also recognizes the default audio formats you have on your mobile so you can still play .wma (for example) with the same program.

I did have a couple of glitches with it, such as: no recognition of the phone’s media keys and when ending a phone call, the music never restarted.

Overall, thumbs up for OggPlay and it is now being used more then my phone’s default music player. Shame on Symbian for not having supported .ogg and .flac by default.

Songbird is now 1.0!

My favorite cross-platform music manager Songbird is now on its 1.0 release!! I’ve written about Songbird before and it is fantastic to report that finally the first full release is available.

Why do I like Songbird so much?

  • it is open source;
  • cross-platform (Linux, Windows, MacOS X)
  • built on top of the same framework as Firefox, it allows me to navigate through other websites and easily get songs that are embedded in these websites;
  • also inheriting from Firefox is the ability to have add-ons so its functionality can be greatly expanded.

Using GStreamer for playback means that Songbird can easily play several music formats, and do it well. Also improved for the 1.0 release is the performance (using much less system resources), faster to startup, some cool add-ons that come bundled with the software, a nice way of handling iTunes library migration, and more.

The UI looks very much like iTunes but you can easily change that by picking another theme (what Songbird calls feathers), or change the layout of some modules.

Now listening to music has become a richer experience with a logical integration between your songs and the entire web.

Creating or editing movie subtitles

Today I had to add subtitles to a short movie. Problem is, I had never done that before, I’ve seen subtitle files but never actually done any changes to them. Let alone create subtitles!

So, I go to my Ubuntu’s Add/Remove Programs app to look for what is available for me. I found and installed Gnome Subtitles.

The program was pretty simple to use. I opened a video, started transcribing the audio myself into the subtitle lines at the bottom of the screen and pressed Ctrl+Enter when I wanted a separate subtitle line. Gnome Subtitle has a movie preview window so that I could see exact time (or frame) any dialogue was spoken for me to sync the subtitles to.

The program even offers a nice hand when translation of a subtitle needs to be done. Which will be the second part of my task (for another day).

After everything was written and synced, I saved the file to .srt and .sub formats (Gnome Subtitles supports several other formats as well).

Life is soooo easy on a Linux machine… Not much time wasted into finding and installing the program and the program is of excellent quality. Task accomplished!

Free your iPod with Rockbox

One of the reasons why I don’t like iPods is the entire philosophy of having everything closed and according to the likes of Apple. But, fortunately the open source community is too awesome and have developed a firmware that we can install on several different audio devices.

Rockbox is a bit like an operating system for portable media players. You can install it on several different devices from the following manufactures: Apple, Archos, SanDisk, Toshiba, iriver, and more.

Why install Rockbox? First, the number of features you’ll get with it is huge. For example, your device will be able to support several different audio and video formats (yes, it’ll play video if your device didn’t allow you to). Plus, you might even get some gaming done. If you want even more features you can also add some extra plug-ins to it.

That certainly helps in making my next decision to purchase a media player. The number of devices supported by Rockbox isn’t huge, but quite a few iPod models have been tested well. So, you might even give a new life to an old discarded iPod.

If you’d like to watch a video review, head over to the Linux Journal and let Shawn Powers show it to you.

Firefox being released with open source video and audio codecs

The Mozilla team has announced that Fiirefox 3.1 will come with native support for Theora and Vorbis media. So, this means that:

  1. open source media can become a bit more mainstream (finally moving away the proprietary mp3 monopoly);
  2. no longer will we have to install Firefox plugins to see embedded audio and video files (as long as they’re in .ogg format)

The code is already out, available in Firefox’s nightly builds releases for large scale testing.

We have a bunch of Theora and Vorbis files and the quality is pretty good (some say ogg audio is even better than mp3). If you’d like to see/hear for your for yourself, go to, they have tons of music files you can download in ogg, and you can check out the Wikimedia page to watch some ogg videos.