How to Install Any Plugin in OBS Studio Flatpak

After switching over to Debian earlier this year, I’ve generally found it to be a smooth transition – smooth compared to how it used to be, at any rate. But one thing I’ve really struggled with is OBS Studio.

Don’t get me wrong: OBS is a simply fantastic piece of software. I won’t wax lyrical about it too much here – we have a guide to get to, after all – but the point is, it’s quality work and 100% free. The trouble is that unless you’re on Ubuntu (or Windows, of course), you can’t easily get the “definitive” OBS experience, and every installation method comes with its own caveats.

Case in point: the Flatpak version of OBS, which comes officially recommended on the site. It gives you pretty much all you need to run a stream, including the elusive Browser Source which is normally unavailable if you install through your package manager; but it’s missing things like easy plugin support. There are a few plugins available through Flatpak itself, but nothing compared to the vast depths of the OBS plugin forum. However, it turns out that you can install any ol’ plugin you like! (And as far as I can tell, there’s no definitive guide on how to do that… until now!)

Nota bene: it’s a bit of a pfaff. Also, we assume that you already have the Flatpak version of OBS installed – if not, please flatpak install com.obsproject.Studio and then return here post haste!

First things first, open up OBS, and go to File -> Show Settings Folder. This will open the directory where OBS keeps all its configurations, and crucially, its plugins!

A screenshot of OBS Studio, showing the File menu, with 'Show Settings Folder' highlighted.The directory will open in your file manager. You can close OBS at this stage – you’ll need to restart it at some point, so might as well save your future self some effort. You will notice there is a plugins directory (if there isn’t, create one).

Screenshot of a file manager, showing the various directories in the OBS Studio config folder. The 'plugins' directory is highlighted.If you’ve installed plugins through Flatpak, these will not show up here, so don’t panic if you’re expecting stuff to be there and it’s empty. (Just one of the reasons why this isn’t the easiest task.)

Next, let’s find a nice plugin! For this demonstration, we’ll use Tuna. Most plugins will work, as long as they have a Linux version. Go to the page, and select ‘Go To Download’ at the top-right.

Screenshot of the OBS Studio website, showing the download page for a plugin called Tuna.Whoa nelly, that’s a lot of downloads! Naturally, we want the Linux version. Some plugins offer a “universal” Linux package – if that exists, grab that one. But Tuna here only offers a .deb package, for Debian-based systems.

Screenshot of Github, showing downloads for a variety of operating systems, all for the Tuna plugin.“But what if I use Arch, btw??” you scream at me through a grotty window on the first floor of the old Huddersfield Library building. (Other non-Debian distros are available.)

Well, reader, I haven’t tested this personally, but I’m pretty sure they all use the same files regardless. You won’t be installing this .deb file like usual, you’ll be extracting it to the plugins directory. In a very particular fashion. Download the .deb file, and open it up in your archive manager – in my case, Ark.

Within the .deb file, there are three additional files: everything we need is in data.tar.gz, so open that one too. You’ll be presented with a big list of nested directories.

Screenshot of Ark, a compressed archive manager. Inside are a lot of folders.Unfortunately, friends, it doesn’t end with you extracting this to your plugins directory and going off on your merry way. There’s just a little extra work we need to do.

Go to your plugins directory, then create a new directory inside there. I’m not exactly sure if the name matters, but I tend to use the name of the plugin’s .so file – so, in this case, ‘tuna’.

Next, enter ‘tuna’ and create two directories inside: ‘bin’ and ‘data’. Inside ‘bin’, create the directory ’64bit’.

Extract tuna.so into ’64bit’. Return to your ‘data’ folder, then extract locale and any files next to it into that directory – so, in this case, we want ‘locale’, ‘placeholder.png’, and ‘widget.html’.

…and that’s it! When you’re done, your directory structure should look a bit like this.

Screenshot of my file manager, showing the directory structure of the 'tuna' directory, as described in the post above.Finally, crack open OBS (assuming you closed it when I told you to), and verify that your plugin has installed successfully. Which mine has, so I’ve definitely done this guide correctly!

Screenshot of OBS Studio, demonstrating that Tuna has been installed correctly. It is listed under the 'Tools' menu, and the settings window is open in the foreground.If you want to remove a plugin, simply delete the parent directory – in this case, ‘tuna’.

Well, I hope this was helpful. Would be nice if there was a simpler method, but even with standard OBS installations, adding plugins isn’t simple. I should point out that this method does work if you’ve installed OBS through your package manager as well; just make sure you’re in the correct directory beforehand.

About LunarLoony

IT support technician by day, artist also by day, video game enthusiast by day as well. Not keen on doing things by night... when else am I supposed to sleep? I have been making internet things since about 2005, and advocate for personal websites and blogs and things. I also run Broken Circus, where I make short films about video game history!
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