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Friday, July 26, 2013

Installing Kazam screencaster on Debian Wheezy from CrunchBang repos

When I went looking for a cool screen recording app for Linux that had native support for WebM, I didn't find anything in the Debian repositories that fit my criteria. Gnome 3 has a very handy built-in screen recorder that supports WebM, but I don't know of an easy way to use it outside of Gnome. However, there where a few cool-looking options available for Ubuntu, so I decided to see if I could find a way to install one of them on Debian. Kazam looked pretty cool, so I decided to give it a try. A little searching found that it is available for CrunchBang, a distribution derived from Debian, and the packages are apparently compatible.

However, I did it slightly different from how it was described as I didn't want to go installing third-party packages willy-nilly or by accident. I could have just installed kazam and then removed (or commented out) the CrunchBang repository, but then it wouldn't get updates. So what I did was to use apt-pinning to tell the package manager that I don't want any CrunchBang packages installed unless I explicitly install them (or they are pulled in as dependencies of something I explicitly install).

To do this, I first added:

deb waldorf main

to my /etc/apt/sources.list with a comment to explain what it is doing there. Next, I added the CrunchBang key with:

wget -O - | sudo apt-key add -

Now, to set my preferences, I created /etc/apt/preferences like so:

Package: *
Pin: release n=wheezy
Pin-Priority: 900

Package: *
Pin: release n=waldorf
Pin-Priority: -10

Setting Pin-Priority less than zero is what indicates I don't want packages installed from this repository unless specifically requested. Note that this also means that it will not be upgraded by the usual commands, you must use the command you originally used to install it, but it will be possible to upgrade it with a single command without updating any configuration files again.

Now, I update the package list and explicitly install kazam from CrunchBang Waldorf (Waldorf is the CrunchBang release corresponding to Debian Wheezy):

aptitude update
aptitude -t waldorf install kazam

Now you should have Kazam available to record your own screencasts. All of the options are right there when you open it, to select video and audio sources, codec (VP8/WebM or H264/MP4), framerate, use a countdown timer, capture the mouse (or not), or select a region of the screen to record.

Kazam on Debian (KDE 4)

Note that all of the above commands (including editing files) need to be done as root, except for wget. Also, the line starting with wget uses sudo to run the apt-key command, so you need to be in the sudo group or else run the whole thing as root without using sudo.