I am looking for a program that will allow me to draw anywhere (in any program/on the desktop, etc.) with my mouse on the screen.

The program should:

  • be free
  • allow me to select colours
  • be lightweight
  • run on Ubuntu
  • OP, please consider changing your selection.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 18:31

4 Answers 4


Ardesia Sounds like it may work for you:

Thanks to Ardesia you are free to open any application and fix your ideas and comments as if you wrote on a classic chalkboard. You can use the tool to make effective on-screen presentation, highlight things or point out things of interest. The tool facilitates the online presentations and demos showing in real time your computer screen to anyone in the network. You can use this tool to enhance your lessons or courses working with your preferred applications and your preferred operating system. Create nice tutorial and demos saving the desktop images with your free hand annotations. Ardesia includes a sketchpad software that allow to free-hand draw geometrical shapes using the shape recognizer.

  • Free
  • Select-able colors (seems limited from the screenshots)
  • Not sure if it is lightweight
  • Runs on Ubuntu sudo apt-get install ardesia
  • 1
    The ardesia project had no activity for years, here is the source: github.com/gfreeau/ardesia Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 9:45
  • Doesn't work for me on Devuan ASCII.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 18:11
  • I don't think it is lightweight in the sense that it depends on Gnome, so unless you already have all of gnome installed, the dependencies might be on the heavy side. I could be wrong, but it's what I ran into. Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 23:19

Gromit mpx Is also a possible choice. It works quite well under X, but I couldn't get it to work on Wayland.

Drawing is really smooth and the lines can be customised. I am using it together with a Wacom Cintiq and am very satisfied with the results.

Link: https://github.com/bk138/gromit-mpx

  • It builds, it runs, it works! :-) ... +1.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 18:31
  • runs cool under Ubuntu 19.04 (Gnome default) Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 14:17
  • 4
    Gromit-MPX author here. Version 1.4 now runs under Wayland.
    – bk138
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 15:06

There is a compiz plugin for that, called "Annotate".

(The link at the end also provides alternatives to this answer)

Setup may look complicated - but chances are that you will have it actually at hand, already installed - and just need to know that.

enter image description here

There's a detailed guide for the setup: ubuntu.SE: Drawing over the desktop.

This also contains guides to set up the alternative solutions ardesia, pylote and scrot.


new answer to the old question: "Draw On You Screen" GNOME-Extension: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1683/draw-on-you-screen/

Features :

  • Basic shapes (rectangle, circle, - ellipse, line, curve, text, free)
  • Smooth stroke
  • Drawing on desktop and persistence
  • Multi-monitor support
  • Export to SVG
  • As of today, it's not compatible with GNOME 41.
    – Yajo
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 11:27

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