Jon’s Linux Experiment – Part 3 – Watching DVDs

This last Christmas (the one a few weeks ago), my totally awesome in-laws bought me something every geek should own, Star Trek: The Next Generation – that’s right, all 179 stupendous episodes (Yes, even “The Naked Now” counts as stupendous… just barely). So when I started messing around with my new Linux machine, I wanted to watch my TNG as I had with the old Compaq.

Which brings me to a funny point about Ubuntu: An almost fanatical devotion to Open Source. Open Source means software has to be licensed under particular licenses – and that little piece of software that actually plays back an encrypted (e.g. store-bought) DVD is not under the right sort of license. Therefore, it isn’t available out of the box. Boo! (for the pain, not for Open Source).

Fortunately many  other geeks have had the same desire to watch Star Trek and have put together a plethora of posts like this one explaining what to do to solve the problem. I could post to any one of them, but figured I’d write it up again with the help of two websites I found particularly helpful – this one and this one. For Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) here’s what I did to get DVD playback going as well as playing it with my media browser of choice, VLC.

1. Add the Medibuntu sources to your aptitude sources list:

sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/intrepid.list --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list<br /><br /><font face="sans-serif">2. Run this pretty awesome command line and answer "yes" when it prompts you:<br /><br /></font>sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update<br /><br /><font face="sans-serif">3. Install the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.videolan.org/developers/libdvdcss.html">libdvdcss2</a> package, which you need to view DVDs</font><br /><br /><font face="Courier New">sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2</font><br /><br /><font face="sans-serif">4. (Optional) Install another package that will let you play non-free codecs that you may want to view if you're coming from a windows world (such as Real player, quicktime, etc...)</font><br />

sudo apt-get install w32codecs

5. (Optional) Install VLC and make it your default video player for DVDs

sudo apt-get -y install vlc

6. Change file associations to VLC (if you installed it in step 5)

a) Edit /etc/gnome/defaults.list  and change “totem.desktop” to “vlc.desktop” in the line containing “x-content/video-dvd)
b) In Nautilus go to Edit, then Preferences. On the Media tab, select VLC as the drop down choice for DVD-Video.
c) Right click on Applications and choose “edit Menus”. Find VLC and change it’s source to vlc %m instead of vlc %f

So there you have it, how I was able to get down to enjoying ST:TNG on my new Ubuntu system. One rather strange caveat though: My DVD drive decided to spin like a freaking monster while playing the first DVD. I realized it was spinning as fast as possible, not spun down when it was just going along at a steady pace. I used the following command to change it to 4x which was fast enough for all my purposes, and made it sound less like my laptop was planning to take off:

sudo hdparm -E 4 /dev/scd0

You can always change it back later by changing the 4 to whatever multiplier you’d like (e.g. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc…)

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Gift Ideas

People have been asking me for gift ideas for my birthday and christmas. So if you’re one of them, check out the following gift lists:
Amazon
Or
ThinkGeek
Or (If you REALLY like me)
This ultra cool item
Thanks to everyone who cares about getting me a gift! If you’re also shopping for my lovely wife, her Amazon Wishlist is also available.

Note: This list is normally hidden, however I bring it out around xmas time over here at LJ. If you’re looking to get me a gift any other time of the year, this info is also on JonWestfall.Org