How to enable DVD playback : Ubuntu (5.10 / 6.06.1 / 6.10)

By | 2006/12/14

DVD playback is not a feature that is installed by default due to license restrictions. In my opinion the restriction is stupid, very restrictive and violates my rights (of course I am not a lawyer so don’t listen to my rants.) This tutorial will show you how to install DVD playback capability on your Ubuntu linux machine.

note: in some areas this is not legal. If that is the case for you you can 1) continue to let some corporation demand payment to be able to playback the DVDs you already paid for, 2) stop watching DVDs altogether or 3) tell them to take a hike and install playback anyway. Viva la revolucion!

Installing DVD playback is pretty simple. You’ll need to install the Seveas Repository before you’ll have access to it and then simply run:

sudo aptitude install libdvdcss2

or, if you prefer not to install Seveas repository you can run the following command to automagically download and install the appropriate files:

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/./

We desperately need a change to our countries laws in this regard, at least in the US. Until then we simply do what has to be done.

update: if you find that, for whatever reason, you don’t have the above file to run and install you can try to take a look at this comment for an additional method. install libdvdread3

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33 thoughts on “How to enable DVD playback : Ubuntu (5.10 / 6.06.1 / 6.10)

  1. Archeious

    I choose option #4. Use a legal player, granted it is not open source but I can at least say I obey the laws of the land. I agree it is stupid that we have to use such a restrictive license but it is their IP they get to decide. You could always buy a VHS copy.

  2. Lake

    There is no option #4, and VHS is certainly no option!

  3. damaged justice

    “I can at least say I obey the laws of the land.”

    Bully for you. When those laws violate my rights, I view them with the contempt they deserve. Such “laws” hold no authority, only the threat of a man with a gun.

    “I agree it is stupid that we have to use such a restrictive license but it is their IP they get to decide.”

    A) By “IP” I assume you mean “intellectual property”, but that term is legally meaningless. Precisely what legal protection is being claimed? Copyright? Trademark? Patent? Something else?

    B) I don’t know about you, but I never agreed to any license. I bought a DVD, I own it, I can play it any way I like. My inalienable rights trump someone else’s privileges, particularly the privileges of a cartel or guild which is trying to elevate itself to the status of government and claim the authority to punish those who disobey.

  4. infinity

    this is bs! you buy a copy of a dvd and you still cant do what you want with it. wtf is wrong with our laws.

  5. Matt

    Sure they own the IP, but I *buy* a DVD and then I have to *buy* a standalone DVD player because the DVD drive that I *bought* isn’t allowed to be used to play DVDs?

  6. zbeast

    Nice story good find I’m upgrading my Linux video player this weekend so this comes just in time.
    I always use option 3. I really don’t have the time to try and start a political movement around siting around trying to watch a movie. If they wont bend then you walk around them.

  7. Daniel

    You are *buying* a LICENSE to the copyrighted and encrypted content on those DVDs; you do NOT own the content.

    The encrypted content is protected by the DMCA and the MPEG2 standard in which it is encoded is patent encumbered (in the USA at least). Ubuntu cannot legally have DMCA-circumvention and patent-encumbered codecs installed by default or they would be sued (in the USA at least). It is also difficult to get a license because you pay per unit that uses the intellectual property, and with free software there is no real way to get a count of how many people are using something (you can modify the code to not count yourself after all, and that would be cheating the IP owners).

    The problem is that there isn’t all that much we can do about it, especially with abominations like HDMI and other more draconian DRM coming our way soon. Remember that HD DVDs use VC-1 and/or H.264, both of which are also patent encumbered in the USA. Don’t forget the new “features” coming in Windows Vista. Most people have no idea what is coming.

    The FSF, EFF, and others are fighting this war on our behalf, but they need help. Donate, spread the word and educate people, support free formats like FLAC, Vorbis, Theora, Dirac, do whatever you can, but do NOT just sit back and pretend that it doesn’t affect you. Eventually it will.

    Also, that last command doesn’t need the period in it, as using absolute paths will always allow you to execute, i.e. “sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/”.

  8. Afrodream 'n' beaded

    Thats why i have start to love linux, you can go down to the code and make it work the way you like it to work 4 u.


  9. damaged justice

    “The problem is that there isnt all that much we can do about it”

    A) What you mean “we”, paleface?

    B) I didn’t agree to any license, I own the DVD, it is my property, I can do whatever I want with it as long as I don’t violate anyone else’s rights. (RIGHTS — not privileges.) And what can the movie industry executives do about it? Nothing — unless they enlist the government to use its guns on their behalf.

    The flowchart for EVERY LAW always has, as its final step, “And then you go to jail.” Without the gun of the law, the industry ceases to be a problem.

  10. russ

    it didn’t work for me. i copy pasted the sudo /usr….. one and terminal spit out:

    sudo: /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/./ command not found

  11. Ubuntu Tutorials

    russ – does the directory exist on your machine? can you “cd /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3” and find the file?

  12. moon

    didn’t work for me either.
    I got
    sudo: /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/./ command not found

    and I didn’t find the file in /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3

  13. Ubuntu Tutorials

    moon / russ – What version / type are you running? Ubuntu? Kubuntu? I find it odd that you don’t have those files. Let me know and we’ll see if we can track it down.

  14. Tobias

    I’m running Ubuntu 6.06.1 and this worked for me:
    # apt-get install libdvdread3
    # /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/examples/

    (notice examples/ in the path)
    I found it by reading:

  15. bro

    Nice, but what is wrong with automatix? I’m happily living in the Netherlands (without software patents). We’ve got stupid stuff too though.. don’t worry.

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  17. Einar Jørgensen

    automatix installs, whereas libdvdread3/ installs 1.2.5-1 of libdvdcss. The former doesn’t work at all. I get sound with 1.2.5 and that’s nice, but not what I’m after. Any idea what’s wrong?

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  20. trogdor

    Thanks a lot. I wish they actually said “dvd playback unsupported” or whatever, instead of some generic read error. I was starting to think my dvd drive was defective.

  21. Kyreas

    Oh, damn useful! I’ve been working on this for days! Huzzah!

    Oh and Daniel:

    I buy my DVD’s. The DVD’s have content on. There may well be something stating that I am only purchasing a license to use the content but 1) It’s not on my DVD case. Or on the DVD. It says no copying sure, but no use? Which brings me to 2) Even if I have only purchased a license to run the content, why should I not do it?

  22. Jenease

    I have ran the tutorial on Ubuntu 6.10 but still cannot swhatch the dvd. Help Please. I used both ways and the packages are installed. But as soon as I pop the dvd and gxine opens the computer freezes.
    Thanks in advance for your prompt response to this matter!

    Jenease P Grieco

  23. techforumz

    I agree it’s stupid but honestly, have all these stupid laws ever kept anyone from doing anything? Nope, they just provoke more of it because people never thought to do that before.

  24. eagle

    Please note, you are incorrect that DVD playback is not enabled by default because of copyright restrictions. It is instead the case that gstreamer does not support DVD playback, even for unencrypted DVDs. If all you want to do is play unencrypted DVDs, then you do not have to start downloading from unsupported and potentially illegal repositories! Use these three Ubuntu-supported packages and you can use “gxine” for DVD playback.

    1) gxine
    2) libxine1
    3) libxine1-ffmpeg

  25. Pingback: Tobi’s Blog » Blog Archive » DVDs mit Kopierschutz unter Linux abspielen

  26. techforumz

    Option #3 all the way. BTW: M$ windows violates those same laws, when they sell their dvd decryptor, which should come with the system anyway. Except they have better lawyers than do the government (so screwed up)

  27. Jason

    Hi there,

    I came across your article on DVD/CDROM on Ubuntu 6.06.

    I cant access the DVD/CDROM with the error :-
    Unable to mount the selected volume. The volume is probably in a format that cannot be mounted.

    mount: block device /dev/scd0 is write-protected, mounting read-only

    mount: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/scd0,

    missing codepage or other error

    in some cases useful info is found in syslog – try

    dmesg | tail or so

    I tried to do dmesg| tail and get below response:-
    Unable to identify CD-ROM format.

    I have followed the above isntruction to enable the dvd read :-

    # apt-get install libdvdread3

    The installation went smooth. But was wondering what went wrong with my CDROM-DVDROM. I can open cd and dvd in my Windows platform.

    Anyone can help?



  28. Jason Woofenden

    The first sentence of this article is very misleading:

    “DVD playback is not a feature that is installed by default due to license restrictions.”

    The issue isn’t license restrictions on your DVD. The problem is recent changes in law (DMCA and software patents) make it illegal to distribute the software that can decode your DVD.

    Even if you’ve never owned a DVD in your life, it’s still illegal for anybody in the USA to give you a copy of such software.

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