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I haven’t found a good system for ripping DVDs in Linux until recently. I have tried AcidRip and DVD::Rip. It somewhat works, but I am unsatisfied with the interface. Both are also seems unmaintained (last updates are in 2010). Some modern portable devices (phones, tablets) don’t have DVD player, so it is desirable to convert DVDs to more appropriate digital format.

HandBrake is a nice option, but it has several problems. First it can’t read encrypted DVDs without external help. When it can read DVDs at all (unencrypted, or, it can’t copy the content to hard disk first, which is my preferred procedure. Fedora repositories don’t have it, and the developers have stopped offering Fedora builds since version 0.9.8. Last Fedora builds offered are for version 0.9.5 (from 2011).

Even so I decided to use HandBrake to rip some DVDs I borrowed to a more readable format for tablets. First problem is to find a convenient program to copy DVDs to disk. Various options exist: for command line program I guess you can use dd or ddrescue, but I have only tried vobcopy. It works, but coughes on some bad DVDs.

K3b is often touted for working with DVDs. It can write DVD images (ISO format) to disk, but again it stutters when facing scratched DVDs. A more flexible application is K9copy. It can copy DVD chapters selectively, a feature I use when I found a DVD can be copied well except for the last (unimportant) chapter.

For subtitles you can use the subtitle tracks from DVD (VOBSUB). This usually means you shouldn’t only copy the VOB files (which is the default action of vobcopy), but also the subtitles. The easiest way to ensure this is to copy the whole DVD content.

The subtitles in DVD are actually pictures. If you prefer text format, you can either run text recognition program on it or just download available subtitles from sites like AnySubs. Handbrake can handle both format: VOBSUB and text (SRT) with no problem.

DVD ripping is a very computationally intensive task. I found that HandBrake consumes almost all computing power from the processor.  It needs about 30 minutes to 2 hours to convert the DVD, depends on the quality setting you choose. The trick is to find a setting that do the task in convenient time length without compromising the quality too much.

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