Watch and Rip DVDs with Ubuntu

Watching encrypted DVDs on Ubuntu Linux can be a challenge.  Luckily there is a way.

To view an encrypted DVD you must have the proper CSS (
Content Scrambling System) decrypter installed on your system.  Once again this is proprietary information and Ubuntu would have to pay a licensing fee for its use.

You as an individual can install the CSS decrypter on your system.

There is a website called Medibuntu and I have compiled information gotten from their site.  Thanks.

Here is a procedure to install the Medibuntu repository and then get the CSS decryption.

All items in red are command line items.  Open a terminal and copy-paste.
First add the sources.list entries in a separate file, depending on your Ubuntu release use the appropriate command.
Ubuntu 6.06 "Dapper Drake"
sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon"
sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron"
sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

Ubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex"
sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackelope"
sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

Next add the gpg key from Medibuntu.
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add - && sudo apt-get update

Update Synaptic Package Manager

sudo apt-get update
Install the Medibuntu CSS Decrypter
sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2

Ubuntu's default player to play DVDs is Totem.  While Totem will suffice it certainly lacks in this area.  To more effectively play DVDs in Ubuntu install VLC.  VLC is a play all media player for Ubuntu.  More information about VLC can be gotten from the VLC website.  To install VLC if it is not already installed type the following in a terminal:

sudo apt-get -y install vlc

To make VLC the default DVD player for Ubuntu Gutsy and earlier do the following:

System--->Preferences--->Removable Drives and Media
In the Multimedia portion where they talk of which program will launch automatically when a DVD when inserted type the following:

vlc %m

My good buddy Nick has given me the information to use the %m as this will allow you to mount a DVD movie for users with multiple optical drives.  Nick is a recent Ubuntu user and is a great source of information.

For Hardy Heron there is a bit more work required to make VLC your default DVD player.   Here is what needs to be done.

1.  Edit your /etc/gnome/defaults.list file.
2.  Replace totem.desktop with vlc.desktop in the line that contains x-content/video-dvd
3.  Reboot the workspace.
4.  Start up Nautilus and go to Edit--->Preferences and select the Media tab.
5.  There should now be a VLC option in your DVD-Video drop down menu.  Select VLC.
6.  Right click on Applications and select Edit Menus.  This will bring up the Main Menu window.
7.  Select Sound & Video.
8.  Right mouse click on VLC and select Properties.
9.  In the Launcher Properties window type vlc %m in the Command: slot.

This will automatically launch VLC and start playing the DVD.

I have personally tested this procedure and it does indeed work.  You can now watch and rip Hollywood DVDs.  I don't condone the piracy of DVDs and DVD ripping should be done for archival backup of DVDs that you have purchased.

I personally own over 750 Hollywood DVDs and have backed up some of the ones I watch frequently.  DVDs are delicate, must be handled by human hands, and therefore can be scratched or worse yet LOST.

To rip DVDs I recommend using K9Copy.  K9Copy is the linux version of DVDShrink.  It was written for KDE but it will wrork on Gnome equally well.  K9Copy will take a dual layer DVD and compress so the feature will fit on a single layer disc.  To get K9Copy use the following command to install.  Note some newer DVDs have improved copy protection and therefore K9Copy will not be able to copy them.

sudo apt-get -y install k9copy

Once installed you will need to do some reading to get k9copy to work (sorry, this is not a K9Copy tutorial).

I hope this helps.