OBS on Ubuntu

Open Broadcaster Software or “OBS” is an open source tool for streaming videos and shows live. This tutorial will walk you through the setup of OBS on Ubuntu, tailored for the student 1:1 laptops at Penn Manor School District.

Penn Manor Employees should use the Tech Knowledgebase article.


To get started, we first need to tell Ubuntu where to look to get the latest version of OBS Studio. Open a terminal by pressing ‘Ctrl + Alt + T’. In the window that appears, type the following command (or copy and paste it) and press Enter.

sudo snap install obs-studio

That’s it! When the command finishes, OBS-Studio will be installed.

First Run

To run OBS, click the Super key (windows key) and type OBS. You should see the black OBS logo.

OBS Logo

When the “Auto Configuration Wizard” opens, you can press No to continue following this tutorial for your setup. OBS will tell you where you can find the wizard again if you change your mind.

Device Setup

At Penn Manor elementary schools, you may find a USB microphone and a USB camera or webcam that you can use with your OBS studio to get better video and sound. Let’s look at how these devices can work inside OBS.

First, be sure to plug in all the devices you plan to use BEFORE you open OBS. OBS will look for devices when it opens and might become very unhappy if those devices disappear, or if new devices appear after it has been opened.

At this point, you will see the following screen.

Empty OBS screen

There are five sections at the bottom: Scenes, Sources, Mixer, Scene Transitions, and Controls. For this brief introduction, we will focus just on the Sources and the Mixer. Both the Sources and the Mixer sections will be used to work with audio devices, so you should be familiar with both of them.

A note about sources

Every “Source” in OBS has “Properties” and “Filters” available to it.

Properties – are the settings and details about the source, like which camera or microphone to use, where in the computer an image is located, and other related settings.

Filters – are effects that OBS can use to modify the source.

Right click any source to see it’s properties, filters, or other media-specific options.

The Mixer shows all your active audio devices. This can sometimes be confusing because you might add certain audio sources to your scenes and have the same device show up in your mixer twice. Just remember that what ever is in your Mixer is the audio that is currently active on your live scene. You can always turn the volume down on an audio source to mute it.

In this case we already have a “Mic/Aux” audio source. By default, this is using the built-in microphone. To change this to use the USB microphone, click the little gear right under the Mic/Aux line in the mixer, then click Properties.

obs mixer

In the properties window, you’ll notice that the “Device” is set to “Default”. We don’t know which device the computer is using as the default, but it is probably using the built-in microphone. Click the dropdown and find the USB option. Mine says: “USB PnP Audio Device Analog Mono”.

You should now notice the volume meter for our Mic/Aux audio device react when you tap on the microphone. Now, on to the video!

Setting Up the Camera

In the bottom left of the Sources section, you’ll find a little plus button. Click it, and you’ll be presented with a long list of possible sources. Don’t let it scare you! OBS can do a lot with all these options, but for now, we just want to add a “Video Capture Device”.

OBS sources

We’ll need to give it a name, so let’s call this one “USB Camera” just so we don’t get confused later.

On the next screen, select the device drop down and find your camera. You might also want to select the resolution and frame rate. By default these are set low, so it’s a good idea to go for at least 1280×720, but be aware, the higher you set the resolution, the lower your maximum frame rate will be.

obs video source

What are ‘resolution’ and ‘frame rate’ you ask?

Resolution – is how clear the picture is. Specifically it’s how many pixels or dots are used to draw the image. The higher the number, the clearer the image, but this also makes the computer work harder.

Frame Rate – is how smooth the video is, especially when there is movement. Specifically, it’s the number of frames or images that will be drawn every second. The higher the number, the smoother the video.

After clicking OK, we have our camera in the studio window. Notice the red border around the edge of our video. At each corner and edge, you’ll see a little red circle. Click and drag that red circle to match the size of your canvas.

obs canvas

Setting Recording Settings

We could just press “Start Recording” and OBS would happily record a video right now! However, the default settings might not be what you want.

In the Controls section in the bottom right, click the “Settings” button. On the left, you’ll see all the categories of settings for OBS. Click the Output icon to see where OBS is planning to save your recordings. For me it’s under /home/user/snap/obs-studio/231. That’s not ideal. Click Browse to choose a better place to save your recordings (use the up button in the Browse window to get back to the /home/user directory).

Another useful setting while we’re here is the canvas size. Click on the Video icon and you’ll see two resolution options. Personally I like to set this to 1280×720 for both the input and the output resolutions.

At this point, you have everything set up to record a video. Continue to explore the interface and you’ll find things like the Chroma key filter for green screens, and a host of other features to make your videos awesome.

Happy Videocasting!