HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Share your own howto's etc. Not for support questions!

HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby kevinthefixer » 2019-01-02 02:45

Due to legal and licensing restrictions, Debian cannot play most commercial DVDs and Blu-ray discs out-of-the-box. The Debian Wiki covers the problem with DVDs rather thoroughly:
But information on playing Blu-Ray discs was harder to find, thus this Howto. What I did find through Google searches was both Ubuntu-based and out-of-date. It involved installing a proprietary ripper program called MakeMKV and using it to decode the BD and then stream the result to either VLC or Kodi for playback, which sounds overly complicated (the article called it "clunky". But that hardly matters now; MakeMKV removed the streaming function. Apparently they did this because they came up with a better solution, namely a method of allowing VLC to directly use their library files to open BDs in much the same manner as it does DVDs, that is, Media>Open Disc>Blu-Ray. To play a DVD you normally want the "no menu" box unchecked, for BD you want to check it.

So first you need to compile and install MakeMKV. Yes, compile it from source! It's a proprietary program but "free while in beta", which it has been for years now. Each month they update the beta registration key and you must renew it, but more on that later. Anyway the good news is that they give very simple, basic, concise step-by-step instructions that I can't improve upon:
If you plan to use the program to rip a BD to MKV files you'll need a registration key:
But that isn't what we want to do, is it? We want to play the disc. Well, honestly I don't know if we'll need that key or not--I'd already installed it before I discovered the program no longer had streaming. But I think the necessary libs are now installed and can be used by VLC without it. I plan to update this post in February '19, after the current key expires, to see if the lib still works or no. So once again their instructions are very good, I can't improve them:
It still took me several tries to play a disc in VLC, though. I found that (at least in my Stretch installation) VLC's "open disc" dialog pointed by default to /dev/cdrom, which seemed fine as that pointed to my BD drive. No such luck; it had to point to /dev/sr0 instead. Then as noted above, the "no menus" box needs to be ticked. Finally it worked! Anyway until "they" come up with yet another new form of DRM so that nobody, ever, can play any BD on any player. That should secure their "intellectual property"!

One note, mainly just for curiosity's sake: If I have the tech details right, this should enable DVD playback without installing the DVD-CSS libs directly; the MakeMKV libs should already have that covered and that's what VLC is using now, and so are most any other players.

So far (several days now, holidays that I've been home and bad weather so I've been playing with the computer), no problems. This computer (my main desktop workhorse, Intel I3 on an Asus board w/8GB RAM running up-to-date Stretch XFCE) seems unchanged except that I can now play Blu-Ray discs on it. Perhaps Handbrake can do a better job of ripping one, haven't tested yet but the results were unuseable before.
Posts: 120
Joined: 2018-05-05 22:30

Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby Bulkley » 2019-01-02 03:08

Isn't libdvdcss2 adequate?
Posts: 5703
Joined: 2006-02-11 18:35

Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2019-01-02 10:05

Bulkley wrote:Isn't libdvdcss2 adequate?

That's just for DVDs, Blu-Ray disks require more libraries.

@OP: I haven't got a Blu-Ray player but the ArchWiki suggests installing libaacs0 & libbluray1 then downloading the key from and placing it at ~/.config/aacs should be enough:

Is that not the case?
"French riots get results! U lot are instagram zzzombies" — graffiti over Euston underpass
User avatar
Posts: 8583
Joined: 2014-06-01 17:46
Location: /dev/chair

Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby kevinthefixer » 2019-01-02 11:57

I hadn't thought to check the ArchWiki, looks like I should have. libaacs0 is what the MakeMKV people are replacing with their own version. Guess I shouldn't be surprised that Arch is ahead of Debian here too.
Posts: 120
Joined: 2018-05-05 22:30

Return to Docs, Howtos, Tips & Tricks

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests