Top 10 Best Ubuntu DVD Players

Ubuntu is the most common operating system for Linux, so common that some people use the terms interchangeably. It’s actually a combination of software programs like Firefox, LibreOffice, and other freeware programs. Ubuntu can also run paid programs like Microsoft Office so long as you have a virtual machine or something like Wine installed. While it allows you almost unlimited plug and play compatibility with portable devices like a camera or an MP3 player, it does not automatically know how to play DVDs. It’s fairly easy to correct that and get started watching movies on your Linux machine.

In your efforts to play movies, you might have downloaded the Ubuntu Restricted Extra Package but you are still not able to play a DVD. This is actually quite common, especially for users of Ubuntu 13.10 or 14.04.

There is a program called libdvdread in the Ubuntu Software Center that you can load to be able to read DVDs. It does this by creating an Ubuntu library file. Once you have found it in the Software Center, you will need to load a total of two files – libdvdread4 and libdvdnav4. Install them both and then select ctrl – alt – T to open the terminal. Or, you can click on terminal from the main screen.

main menu

Type the following command - sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh, and you’ll be on your way to playing DVDs.

Alternatively, to install them you can type sudo apt-get install libdvdread4 and sudo apt-get install libdvdnav4. Once they have been installed, you will need to reboot your computer.

dvdread

If you have installed programs like VLC or Totem, you will also now be able to use the program menus to play, fast forward, and rewind, like you would on a home DVD player, since you will have loaded the necessary codecs.

Another program you should load is libdvdcss from the Software Center. It comes in both 32 bit and 64 bit versions. It looks like this:

libdvdscs

If you want to install the program using the terminal, go to sudo apt-get install libdvdcss libdvdread4 libdvdnav4 and they will all install that way, too. You may also have to designate your region code, if it doesn’t come up by default. This is what the terminal will look like.

terminal

Here’s why you need these files. libdvdcss2 allows Ubuntu to recognize the DVD; libdvdread4 will, as the name implies, allow the computer to read the DVD; and libdvdnav4 provides the ability to navigate around the DVD. Without these files, you will lack the necessary codecs to be able to load and view your movies.

You can also choose to download a DVD player program. For many Linux machines, you download the player onto a flash drive then install it on the machine from there. You can choose from a number of free programs, including VLC, Totem, Kaffeine, Real Player 10, and Xine, just to name a few. Other programs are sold at the Ubuntu Software Center for a reasonable cost.

One of the paid programs is called Fluendo.

fluendo

As you can see, it has a very clean interface and easy to understand and use controls.

You can access VLC if you don’t already have it downloaded by going to the terminal and typing sudo apt-get install vlc or by going to the Software Center and downloading it. You will still need to download the libdvdcss2 program to allow Ubuntu to know what to do with the disc.

Let’s look at VLC as an example. Once you have downloaded it, you can customize it to look however you want it to.


customizing vlc

Here is the main interface page.

vlc

To launch VLC, you would open up the dashboard and start the program. If it doesn’t start to play the movie on its own, you can go up to File, then click Open Disc. From there, click play, and your movie should start. You can view the movie in full screen or in the smaller box over the main Ubuntu screen. Your controls are at the bottom, including repeat, shuffle, play, stop, fast forward, and rewind. Your volume control is on the very bottom at the right side.

Totem works much the same way. Open the program, and if it doesn’t start to play your movie right away, click on Movie, then Open. It will bring up a selection in the menu on the left hand side. From there select Play.

Your Totem controls are aligned across the bottom. On the right hand side you will be able to build a playlist if you wish. Once your movie is loaded and ready to view, have your popcorn ready and enjoy the film!

totem

So why, you may ask, do you have to do this? Why isn’t it automatic that you have a DVD player program in Ubuntu? It has to do with licensing agreements. If the program came pre-bundled with Ubuntu, the designers would have to pay royalties, and that would keep Ubuntu from being free to all. The commitment the developers made to Ubuntu users was that it would be free, always. But, by being able to download the files and programs later, you are able to access a legal work-around for the situation.

Linux computers are often the choice of computer people because they can be completely customized and enabled to do whatever the user wants them to. Being able to play a DVD is no exception. With being able to select what program you want, based on your own testing, you’ll have a program you will love, instead of what the computer manufacturer had worked out a licensing arrangement for.

Plus, when you can load the freeware DVD player of your choice, you’re keeping with the spirit of Linux and Ubuntu, allowing creative minds to continue to develop software freely. The world of freeware programming is exciting, and innovative ideas are fostered and distributed easily. Since they don’t have to worry about trying to come up with sponsors, they are able to focus their creativity solely on producing their programs.

We hope this tutorial has helped clear up any issues with getting DVDs to play on a Linux machine. Have fun, feel free to experiment, and enjoy your movie collection again.

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