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GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams

DVD Backups

Debian Packages: video-dvdrip transcode vcdimager mplayer-686 subtitleripper mencoder-686 acidrip ripmake vobcopy

There are legal issues around your rights when you purchase a movie on DVD. It would seem reasonable that having purchased a movie on DVD the owner has the right to watch that movie however and wherever they choose and to have a backup copy in case of accident. In some countries, this right might also actually be the law.

Making a backup of your own DVD is simple with the right tools. Because of uncertainties around the legal issues some of the required packages for Debian are only available from a particular archive (by adding the following to /etc/apt/sources.list using editsources):

  deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org sid main

A variety of tools have been developed for processing DVDs. Many of these tools use the very sophisticated transcode package underneath.

A simple tool to extract a single title from a DVD and to resize it to fit on a 4.7GB DVD+RW is dvrequant (Section 28.2.3).

A command line tool to help backing up a DVD to an avi file is ripmake (Section 28.2.4). This provides a simple to use command to read a DVD and to covert it to an avi file for viewing on a computer or into svcd format for burning to one or more CDs perhaps for use in consumer VCD players (svcd tends to be of lesser quality). Ripmake builds a script file that attempts to capture default values used in processing the video with transcode, and you could fine tune the script file if you wanted.

Acidrip (Section 28.2.1) provides a clean, simple and self documenting Gnome GUI for backing up DVDs. It is used to generate an avi file, which is generally quite good quality. This can be converted to svcd, if wanted, using ripmake (Section 28.2.4).

Dvdrip (Section 28.2.2) provides a tab-based GUI interface to transcode, with the idea of progressing through the tabs for each step of the process of creating your avi file.

Ogmrip is a Gnome application, currently (March 2005) under development, for ripping and encoding DVD into DivX/OGM files using a wide variety of codecs.

A simple script from the Internet (mencvcd) also provides a one stop shop for backing up a DVD as SVCD. The underlying command line tools (Section 28.2.4) provide direct access to the same functionality.

To create a new DVD from your video files use tovid and see the recipe at http://tovid.sourceforge.net/howto.html. Tovid (Section 28.2.5) can be used to build a DVD iso image from any video format to burn to a DVD for playing in a consumer DVD player. A great way to transfer your digital home videos to DVD.

With these tools you can make backup copies (in numerous compressed video formats) for your personal use of videos that you own. You can copy the video onto your hard disk for archiving and watching directly. You'll need lots of disk space though (a DVD movie contains up to 9GB and converting needs further disk space).


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