VLC is a popular open source media player, and it's earned its reputation as one of the best. Aside from playing your media files and DVDs, it can do other useful things, like streaming video and ripping DVDs for backups. This guide will help you use VLC to make digital backups of your DVDs on Linux.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to Install VLC
  • How to Rip a DVD to Your Hard Drive With VLC
VLC on Ubuntu
VLC on Ubuntu.

Software Requirements and Conventions Used

Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Arch Linux
Software VLC
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

How to Install VLC

Because VLC is such a popular applicaiton, it's simple to install it on nearly any Linux distribution. This is the first step in using VLC to rip your DVDs.

Ubuntu

You can find VLC in the default Ubuntu repositories, and if you're running the latest version of Ubuntu, there's a good chance that the release in your repositories is current. If you don't need the absolute latest version of VLC, install it with:

$ sudo apt install vlc

If you do want the absolute latest VLC release, you can use the PPA provided by the VLC developers. First, add it to your system, and update Apt.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:videolan/master-daily
$ sudo apt update

Then, install VLC

$ sudo apt install vlc
Debian

Just like with Ubuntu, you can find VLC in the defualt Debian repositories. With Debian, though, you're more likely to encounter an outdated version of VLC. So, the best way forward is with the deb-multimedia repository. It's run by an active Debian developer, and it contains up-to-date versions of most popular multimedia packages. Check out our Debian multimedia guide for in-depth instructions.

Fedora

Fedora doesn't offer VLC in its default repositories, but you can find it in the popular RPMFusion repo. We have a guide covering the process for Fedora 25, but it's still current and will work with the lastest Fedora releases.

RHEL/CentOS

For the latest VLC releases on RHEL and CentOS, you'll need the EPEL. Follow our RHEL/CentOS VLC guide to get set up.


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OpenSUSE

OpenSUSE tends to keep current versions of VLC in its repositories. You can install it any time with zypper.

$ sudo zypper install vlc
Arch Linux

This one shouldn't come as any surprise. You can find the latest VLC releases in the default Arch repos.

# pacman -S vlc

How to Rip a DVD to Your Hard Drive With VLC

Now that you have VLC on your computer, open it up. The interface is fairly plain, since it's really just geared towards being a media player. Find Media up top, and select it. Then, choose Convert/Save from the drop-down menu.

Media Menu on VLC
Media Menu on VLC.

A new window will open up with a series of tabs across the top. Choose the Disc tab.

Convert and Save Options on VLC
Convert and Save Options on VLC.

Select either DVD or Blu-Ray from the options along the top. Then, browse to the location of your DVD. If you haven't configured anthing manually, chances are the default /dev/sr0 location is correct.

File Output Options on VLC
File Output Options on VLC.


The next screen will let you set up your ripped file. Choose a profile form the list for your vide. These determine which codecs are used and what the output format will be. If you're not sure, the first one, Video - H.264 + MP3 (MP4), is usually a solid choice.

Then, choose a destination file. This is the resulting file from your rip that you'll use to play the contents of the DVD. When you're done, press Start to begin.

VLC will kick off ripping your DVD. Unlike other DVD ripping software, VLC is essentially just going to play the DVD and output the video to a file, rather than to your screen. It takes a while, so be patient. The slider along the bottom of the player should still move as VLC progresses, so you can keep track. When it's done, you'll have a playable file in the directory you specified.

Conclusion

It really is that easy to use VLC to back up your DVDs. Keep in mind that VLC isn't exactly designed for this, so it's not as efficient as something like Handbrake, but it will get the job done. Blu-Ray disks are still troublesome on Linux, so results there aren't guaranteed. DVDs, though should almost all work well.

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