Capturing your screen can be quite useful if you need to explain something to another computer user. With the ffmpeg program that you can find in the Synaptic Package Manager on Ubuntu, it’s easy to grab your screen and make a movie file of what happens on it.

Make sure ffmpeg is installed. Then open a terminal and write this command:
ffmpeg -f x11grab -r 25 -s 1280x800 -i :0.0 -sameq Desktop/out.mp4

– instead of 1280x800 you put your own screen resolution
– instead of Desktop/out.mp4 you put the directory and filename of your choice

Press enter, and you’re capturing your screen! To stop, press q.

That’s how easy it is to grab your screen on Ubuntu.


Some time ago I bought a new harddisk, and I wanted to be able to use it on my Mac, on my Linux box and on my brother’s Windows computer. So I started looking for the right filesystem to format the drive to. Default Max OSX HD formatting is HFS+ with journaling enabled, but that doesn’t work on Windows. Default Windows formatting is NTFS, but on a mac, you don’t have write access to the disk. The default on linux is ext3 or ext4 which are both not easy to access on Windows or Mac OSX. After some thinking, I found that USB sticks work flawlessly on these three operating systems. So I decided to format my external HD the same way a USB stick is formatted, being the old FAT32. The problem is that if you’re on a Mac or on a Windows computer, there is no way to make that happen for large drives, so i had to move to my Ubuntu box.

For this action there is a perfect gnome tool available, called GParted. Install it using your favourite software manager. Then connect your external HD to your computer. (make sure you have a backup available if there are files on it)
1 – Open GParted (System > Administration > GParted/Partition Editor).

2 – In GParted you can now select your device (GParted > Devices > yourdevice). You then get a graphical representation of the formatting of that device.

3 – Create a partition table (Device > Create Partition Table) and delete the partitions you don’t need anymore.

4 – Create a new partition, make it as big as your harddisk, choose fat32/vfat as filesystem, and give it a label.

5 – Now check if everything looks ok, and press the ok button to apply changes.

6 – Done! You can now mount your new partition.

Saved by the mighty Ubuntu GNU/Linux once more!


PS: note that there’s a 4GB limitation on file size when using FAT32.
PS2: the labels on your partitions will be uppercase. If you want mixed-case labels, like ‘LaCie’ or something, you can use this command instead of step 4:
sudo mkfs.msdos -n LaCie /dev/sdb1
in which you substitute ‘LaCie’ with the label you want, and ‘sdb1’ with the right partition name.

install xcompmgr and transset:
sudo apt-get install xcompmgr transset

now add xcompmgr to the startup items:
System > Preferences > Startup Applications > Add

name: Compositing Manager
Command: xcompmgr -c -f -F
Comment: Shiny!

Log out and log back in again.

You now have shiny effects enabled. You can set transparency per window:
transset 0.7
Then click the window you want to set to this opacity value.

you can automate this by creating launchers on your desktop or in a gnome panel, to make a window transparent or opaque. For instance, i have a launcher for transparent (transset 0.5) and a launcher for opaque (transset 1)

Done 🙂


To do this you need to have some packages installed:

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg libavcodec-unstripped-52

after that, you can do this command to convert:

ffmpeg -i inputfile.aif -f mp3 -acodec libmp3lame -ab 192000 -ar 44100 outputfile.mp3

– you can use any kind of input file, it doesn’t have to be an aif file.
– to see what formats and codecs are supported do this:
ffmpeg -formats

that’s it 🙂