HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

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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:
https://wiki.debian.org/CDDVD#Video_DVD
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 What I did find through Google searches was both Ubuntu-based and out-of-date.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:
https://www.makemkv.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=224
If you plan to use the program to rip a BD to MKV files you'll need a registration key:
https://www.makemkv.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1053
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:
https://www.makemkv.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7009
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.
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Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby Bulkley » 2019-01-02 03:08

Isn't libdvdcss2 adequate?
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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 https://vlc-bluray.whoknowsmy.name/ and placing it at ~/.config/aacs should be enough:

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Blu-ray#Playback

Is that not the case?
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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.
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Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby kevinthefixer » 2019-02-23 01:02

Update February 22: machine continues to play Blu-Ray discs as described so I conclude that the lib file does not require a constantly updated registration key.

On a personal note: the whole thing strikes me as ridiculously complicated, especially as I rarely watch Blu-Rays at all. Perhaps it's a good thing optical media are endangered and on the way to extinction. And I wonder how much of that was caused by the introduction of DRM strategies, particularly as applied to Blu-Ray.

Still todo: check whether Handbrake will do a decent job of ripping a Blu-Ray now, it should be using the same lib as VLC does IIRC.
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Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby milomak » 2019-02-23 12:12

for a howto, i have to say it's not exactly clear what it is i need to do

edit - in fact following this link seems far easier

thank you though. as i didn't know i couldn't play blu-ray before this thread. but now i can
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Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2019-02-23 13:31


It's also far more likely to break your box: we have had a few problem threads here caused by the deb-multimedia repositories and they are not required at all — did you try following the three simple steps in my last post?
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Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby kevinthefixer » 2019-02-23 15:08

@milomak, I hadn't found that article when looking for a way to play Blu-rays. But it links to the same solution I found. I could have done a copy-and-paste of MakeMKV's instructions and the update on the no-streaming thing but if you don't have an internet connection you aren't reading this thread anyway.

As Head_on_a_Stick pointed out, enabling a repository that does not undergo Debian's strict testing procedures is dangerous. I wouldn't recommend it for the same box you use for work or paying bills.

And yes, it would be nice if someone with a Stretch box that has a Blu-Ray drive would try H_o_a_S's method. I have a box recently freed up but it will be a good long while before I have time to fool with it, or even a display to use with it, so the only one I could possibly do this to is a P4 that probably wouldn't handle the data throughput of a Blu-Ray video. Pretty poor test. It does an admirable job of playing mp3s out in my workshop, running an old version of Puppy Linux.
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Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby kevinthefixer » 2019-02-24 18:58

Yup, Handbrake now rips a Blu-Ray just fine. Before it produced a pixellated fuzzy thing worse than '60s television. The original Ice Age Blu-Ray ripped to a 2.1 GB mp4 in about 50 minutes, my guess is that's the limitation of the optical drive. Still seems like overkill to me, a DVD looks about the same and usually has a higher frame rate (DVDs are usually 30fps, this Blu-Ray 24).
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Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby eor2004 » 2019-02-26 21:02

kevinthefixer wrote:On a personal note: the whole thing strikes me as ridiculously complicated, especially as I rarely watch Blu-Rays at all. Perhaps it's a good thing optical media are endangered and on the way to extinction. And I wonder how much of that was caused by the introduction of DRM strategies, particularly as applied to Blu-Ray.


In fact, Samsung stated not long ago that it won't be making anymore new Blu-ray players, the culprit? You guessed, streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have inflicted a tremendous blow on physical media discs sales, more info here: https://www.extremetech.com/electronics/285947-samsung-will-stop-making-new-blu-ray-players and here: https://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-to-stop-making-4k-blu-ray-players-report-says/
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Re: HOWTO Play commercial DVDs and Blu-Rays on Debian

Postby milomak » 2019-02-27 16:59

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:

It's also far more likely to break your box: we have had a few problem threads here caused by the deb-multimedia repositories and they are not required at all — did you try following the three simple steps in my last post?

tried that and it didn't work under vlc

edit - i agree with the multimedia repo. imagine i run a sid distro and i often have it disabled but for certain circumstances.
but it was the one that worked rather than aacs
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