Using OBS Studio with V4L2 for Google Meet

Posted:   |  More posts about xubuntu

Many people are now working remote ("WFH"). How to make the best out of video calls with Google Hangouts Meet? This blog post describes how to use OBS Studio with a virtual camera device (video loopback) on Linux to add effects and scenes for Google Meet video calls.

DISCLAIMER: I use Xubuntu 19.10 and have not tested the instructions on any other Linux installation.

Setting up OBS Studio

OBS Studio is free and open source software for video recording and live streaming. Let's install its package on Ubuntu:

sudo apt install obs-studio

Start OBS Studio and configure your scenes. The default scene should obviously include your camera image. You can include arbitrary image effects. Here some added background image, video mask, and color effect:


I prepared multiple scenes to signal different messages to my colleagues without unmuting myself, e.g. "Thumbs up / +1", "AFK", or "Thank You!":


Configuring the Virtual Camera Device

Google Meet (in Firefox) can use a "virtual camera" Linux video device. You need to configure a Video4Linux (V4L) loopback device which OBS Studio can write to.

Install the V4L2 loopback driver:

sudo apt install v4l2loopback-dkms

We need to set up the virtual camera device. I use /dev/video10 to not collide with any existing devices:

sudo modprobe v4l2loopback devices=1 video_nr=10 card_label="OBS Cam" exclusive_caps=1

After experimenting with ffmpeg and high latencies, I swiched to this OBS plugin to directly write to the v4l2 video device. It needs some compilation, so let's compile and install the plugin:

sudo apt install qtbase5-dev
git clone --recursive
git clone
cd obs-v4l2sink
mkdir build && cd build
cmake -DLIBOBS_INCLUDE_DIR="../../obs-studio/libobs" -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr ..
make -j4
sudo make install

Now start OBS Studio and configure the V4L2 video output to /dev/video10 via the new menu item "Tools"->"V4L2 Video Output":


Using Google Meet with the Virtual Camera

Start a Google Meet via and go to settings:


Configure the video camera to use the video loopback device "OBS Cam":


Join the video call and enjoy your OBS-generated video image:


NOTE: Google Meet will show your video stream horizontally flipped, but only for you! Others will see the "Thank You!" text correctly.

UPDATE 2020-03-24

Somebody told me that it also works on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS ("bionic"), but needs the installation of libobs-dev (apt install libobs-dev) and the OBS plugin needs to be copied to the right place:

cp /usr/lib/obs-plugins/ /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/obs-plugins/

I did not test this myself, but I hope it helps LTS users :-)