Backing up movie DVDs using Brasero in Debian Jessie Part 1

Ripping video DVDs has long been part of basic desktop tasks in Linux. However, as new users try out Linux, and there are slight changes on how to rip DVDs and bypass encryption, there is a need to discuss the steps every few years.

The applications available for ripping encrypted movies haven't changed much and are familiar to Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, and macOS users. This article focuses on Debian Jessie, the libdvdcss2 library from the Videolan team, and Brasero, one of the standard DVD burning utilities included with the Gnome desktop environment.

Brasero, VLC, K3B, and Handbrake

The VLC and Handbrake version on the default Debian Jessie repositories aren't the latest. The Handbrake version, in particular, doesn't include the complete set of presets. Handbrake is pretty much the standard for cross-platform DVD-ripping tasks, and the developers are very careful about warning users that you would need additional software if the commercial DVD is encrypted.

The VLC version for Jessie is a few releases behind and although it is a capable video player, the stock version for Debian may not be the best for tasks involving encoding or converting media. Moreover, you would need to install the team's libdvdcss2 library separately on Debian (for legal reasons) to be able to read and process commercial DVDs.

Note: If you're just backing up a data DVD, VCD, or a video DVD created by a normal user, you don't have to worry about encryption and just go ahead and rip the content using VLC, Handbrake, K3B, or Brasero.

K3B is an excellent choice for KDE users, since its dependencies include libraries for reading and working around DVD encryption. Users interested in just cloning a DVD for later conversion or just for backup can use Brasero if they're on a Gnome desktop environment.

Note: One of the first articles I wrote here at Unsolicited But Offered was a K3B tutorial for backing up a data DVD, and it's still my preferred utility for creating physical media on openSUSE 42.2 KDE.

As a side note, the industry has stopped development for DVD encryption, since media security is now more focused on protecting streaming and VOD content, and to a lesser extent, Blu-ray products. Considering that today's users have little to no interest in physical media, and the Region Code protection system implemented on DVDs was inconvenient and didn't help industry sales, focusing on protecting online streaming content made sense. Older users who still value DVDs, and who still purchase DVDs, continue to invest in physical media however.

Note: Off the record, I'm fully aware that users who pirate video content today have been ignoring standard movie DVDs completely, preferring instead to target Blu-Ray or high-quality streaming media instead. Their audience, after all, is more interested in a higher quality than standard movie DVDs. Note however, that the bulk of older content is still more available on DVD because it's cheaper to produce.


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