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DVD - now on Linux!

By Denor in Media
Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 08:29:27 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

When I bought my computer over the weekend, I noticed that it came with a DVD-ROM drive. Though I didn't have any hardware acceleration, the computer was fairly powerful (900mhz), so I imagined I would have no problems viewing movies.

How hard then, I wondered, would it be to watch movies under Linux?

Finding the Software

A quick search for "DVD on Linux" through google, provided me with a link to LiViD, the linux video project. A news item on the main page pointed me to the first official release of The Open Media System (OMS), LiViD's integrated DVD player.

It was only through timing that I found OMS, however - there was nothing else on the page indicating that OMS was probably what I was looking for. It was one of many projects listed on the side; someone simply wanting to start watching DVDs might have more trouble finding it.

Download and Installation

LiViD offered OMS either in binary (RPM, DEB, and tar.gz), source, or source via CVS forms - I downloaded the binaries and then grabbed the source from CVS. Installation of the binaries was a simple RPM -Uvh away (on Redhat Linux 7.1).

Source code compilation was a different matter altogether. The code needed kernel include files, but not just any kernel includes - they needed the kernel includes directly from the source. Redhat's "kernel-includes" package did not satisfy this requirement for some reason, and I ended up downloading the entire kernel.

Luckily, Redhat 7.1 ships with a 2.4 kernel, meaning support for the DVD filesystem (UDF) is built in, and I did not have to rebuild my kernel. 2.2 kernels, on the other hand, might require patching in order to work.

The DVD experience

After installing, I popped in my rental of "Alien" and started the program up. The interface is a fairly slick gtk based GUI, which was surprising to me. I had previously been under the impression that I needed to get DeCSS, crack the DVD, copy the file to my hard drive, and then play it. All these steps are automated under the new GUI, which certainly saved me a few headaches.

I ran into a problem very early on, however: it wouldn't play. The OMS Howto, luckily, had a link to a 'problems' page, where I found my answer: I hadn't set the region of my DVD player. (Software was provided on the 'problems' page to remedy this)

After setting myself to region 1, I started the GUI up again and pressed 'play'. Fanfare came through my speakers, and I watched as spotlights lit up the Fox logo. It worked.

Finishing Remarks

Altogether, the installation was nearly painless, though it would be nice if the GUI would make it more clear that the DVD region needed to be set. The OMS Howto is an excellent guide, and they have a Wiki and an IRC presense to help with problems. I found that the SDL video target gave me a few more FPS, in addition to allowing full-screen usage, so it may be worthwhile to ensure that SDL is installed. In short, it wasn't difficult to set up and once setup was finished, it was effortless to use.


Voxel dot net
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o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Best DVD for testing the drive out:
o Colored Bars and Annoying Calibration Tone 6%
o The Matrix 40%
o Alien(s) 3%
o 2001 7%
o Anything pr0n-related 13%
o Colored Bars and Annoying Calibration Tone II: The Revenge 28%

Votes: 80
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o LiViD
o The Open Media System
o OMS Howto
o Also by Denor

Display: Sort:
DVD - now on Linux! | 43 comments (39 topical, 4 editorial, 1 hidden)
noticed? (3.38 / 13) (#1)
by ODiV on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 05:34:28 PM EST

When I bought my computer over the weekend, I noticed that it came with a DVD-ROM drive.

I really don't know what to say here. Did you really mean that you bought the computer, brought it home, and then noticed that it had a DVD-rom drive? I can't seem to imagine that. This concept is just completely alien to me I guess.

[ odiv.net ]
Well.... (4.50 / 2) (#14)
by Denor on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 06:14:50 PM EST

Did you really mean that you bought the computer, brought it home, and then noticed that it had a DVD-rom drive?

Yeah, turns out it also came with a power switch. Man, the things that come with computers these days :)

Seriously, though, maybe I should have phrased it a bit differently: I noticed it came with a DVD drive when I bought it. Not after I took it home :)


[ Parent ]
today (2.33 / 15) (#2)
by rebelcool on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 05:37:30 PM EST

on my windows 2000 machine, I put a dvd into the drive, and then pressed the "close" button on the drive (I hear you can also simply push on the tray..but thats just too technical for me).

Linux has a long way to go, my friends.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

really? (4.00 / 6) (#4)
by ODiV on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 05:41:15 PM EST


I spent hours searching for the ATi DVD player that would use my ATi Rage Fury under win2k. Once I found an updated version of the player I had to dig for the CD that came with the card simply to prove that I had it. Then I find out the software doesn't work under win2k yet. *sigh*

Then my DVD-rom drive died, but that's a different story.

[ odiv.net ]
[ Parent ]
They'd go faster in this (4.25 / 8) (#5)
by ucblockhead on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 05:42:52 PM EST

If cops didn't hall them off to the station for providing the same functionality for Linux.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Preinstall (3.75 / 8) (#8)
by Lizard on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 05:55:46 PM EST

I suspect that the difference is that your computer was purchased with Windows 2000 already installed for you. Prior to the computer being shipped to you all of the necessary software was installed, configured and tested. Had you been required to install the operating system yourself and find the utilities on the web it may have been a very different experience for you.

These days, Linux is lacking more in OEM support than in application support. Linux is very near to being ready for the desktop, but it will never become the desktop until grandma can buy it preinstalled and configured at Best Buy.
Just Because I Can!
[ Parent ]

not really (3.33 / 3) (#11)
by psctsh on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 06:07:10 PM EST

My computer came with win98 on it, so I ganked 2000 from work and installed it dual boot. Nothing worked. My cd burner, dvd player, games, etc only worked under 98, when 98 wasn't busy crashing. Finally I formatted the drive, installed soley W2K straight from the cd's, and everything works fine. Actually (I found out later), win2k comes with a dvd player on disc--dvdplay.exe in winnt\system32.

[ Parent ]
OT: irony (3.00 / 1) (#18)
by fluffy grue on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 07:01:02 PM EST

Ironically, I decided to look at your little screen-grabbing CGI just now, and guess what I saw on the screen. :)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

haha (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by psctsh on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 07:38:46 PM EST

yeah, I'm working on a version that'll let me use my computer whilst away, like pc anywhere. (Actually, I'm rewriting one that I finished a couple days ago from the ground up...)

Whatever the case, it's kicking ass.

[ Parent ]
What's the matter with... (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by ambrosen on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 06:22:40 AM EST


There's a Java client for VNC which you can just put on your machine's web page, and you'll be able to control your PC from anywhere. Can't remember the URL at the moment, bu try a Google search

Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]

What's wrong with it... (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by psctsh on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 10:32:04 AM EST

...is that I didn't write it myself. I'm not writing this to distribute it (although I'll prolly put the source up on my site); rather I wanted to do it myself. It's fun. Programming's fun.

[ Parent ]
ah (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by delmoi on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 03:08:42 AM EST

I went there, and I saw what appeared to be the source of the dll in a JPG. And I wondered what the hell it was, and why you put it your k5 sig...
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Windows has given me more trouble.. (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by MikeFM on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 11:41:26 PM EST

I've worked with computers for years and in general installing any commercial software tends to be a lot more work than packaged Linux software and even a lot of software you need to compile (thanks to nice things like autoconf). A Linux installation typically takes me 15 minutes. A Windows installation takes a similar amount of time but requires more attention spent and typing a lot of stupid stuff like auth codes. Then after you've installed Windows you have to install each device that is newer than that copy of Windows (or just unknown or different in some way) and then each application. Then half the time some application conflicts with some driver or even Windows and you have to say some prayers and try again. MacOS is better than Windows but not so good as Linux. A lot has to do with what distribution you use also. I find RedHat and Mandrake to be very simple and quick. SuSE trys to be but often runs into troubles. With other dists and *BSD your milage may vary. I've done installs on a very wide range of hardware and for every purpose from server to desktop so I think I have a good range of experience. I do suggest always starting with the newest version of your dist when installing new hardware unless you have a good reason not to do so. Since it is free there is no reason not to. I upgrade my systems often. Usually a couple days after each upgrade comes out -- to give them time for flaws and holes to become known. :)

[ Parent ]
somewhat. (2.50 / 4) (#20)
by rebelcool on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 07:33:10 PM EST

I installed win2000 myself (the tone of the post was meant to be sarcastic). You're right, I did have to install the asus dvd player, which consisted in itself of putting the install disc in the cdrom, which promptly loaded itself up. That required clicking the next>> button a couple of times, then Finish.

After that, I could play dvds.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

WTF? (4.25 / 4) (#22)
by sigwinch on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 09:33:00 PM EST

That required clicking the next>> button a couple of times, then Finish.
Win2K must really suck if you have to learn Finnish to install DVD software. Oops...never mind...

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

You have to push buttons? (3.66 / 3) (#13)
by psctsh on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 06:08:20 PM EST

I just put the dvd in and wait about 5 minutes for the tray to close itself...

[ Parent ]
What tray? (4.00 / 4) (#25)
by orestes on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 10:14:36 PM EST

Slot loading is the way to go!

[ You Sad Bastard ]
[ Parent ]
Autorun: The Horrors (4.00 / 2) (#33)
by WWWWolf on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 06:20:54 AM EST

on my windows 2000 machine, I put a dvd into the drive, and then pressed the "close" button on the drive (I hear you can also simply push on the tray..but thats just too technical for me).
Oh no! The dreaded Autorun! The psychological nightmare that almost drove me insane! Noooooo!


(The real problem was that every time I put a CD in, no matter what OS I used, I kept looking for the shift key to disable autorun... Strange, but not harmful... I think...)

As a side note: I prefer to turn all sorts of automatical starts off, because most often, that's not what I'm going to want in Windows. I don't want installation screens, automatical CD starts or anything like that...

...the net result is that if I want to use program/files on CDROM/play CDs/whatever, I put the disk in and then start an appropriate program, no matter what OS I'm running.

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

[ Parent ]
Oh yuck. (none / 0) (#39)
by gromm on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 09:07:51 PM EST

I remember that we had it set up that way on my girlfriend's machine. Sure, it automatically started the DVD player. And when you put in a music CD it also automatically started the DVD player, if I recall correctly. It's worth noting that it no longer works that way. It's much more worthwhile to start the program you want to start when you want it to start, than to have windows decide for you which program needs to be started in almost every single instance. Why? Because I am smart, and the computer is dumb.
Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]
Although I voted for "The Revenge".. (3.40 / 5) (#7)
by Inoshiro on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 05:44:22 PM EST

"Fight Club" would be a better DVD for testing purposes. It's the only DVD I've found so far which jerks a bit because of how much it requires from the sofnware decompressor. Another good one is "Depeche Mode: The Videos 86>98" (all music vidoes from all their single, 1986 - 1998). It crashes WinDVD on my friend's machine :)

[ イノシロ ]
n0rp (none / 0) (#12)
by ism on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 06:07:41 PM EST

three words:

multiple viewing angles.

[ Parent ]

xine may be the better alternative (4.40 / 5) (#9)
by naru on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 06:04:59 PM EST

I also tried OMS and after a few crashes I turned around and looked for other alternatives. that's when I found xine. In my experience it was far more stable than OMS. And after getting a DeCSS plugin (which isn't hard to come by) it worked like a charm.
One thing to note tho: You won't be able to access the DVD's menues, it only plays the .vob files.

That's... (2.12 / 8) (#16)
by DeadBaby on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 06:30:43 PM EST

So much easier than setup.exe
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
mplayer (4.25 / 4) (#19)
by RangerBob on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 07:13:32 PM EST

I've still had better luck with using MPlayer to play dvd's, mpeg's, and Windows media files. It's still the fastest dvd player that I've tried on my system and seems to be the most stable with the other formats. It's a command line only interface, but you might try it out because it can even handle full screen without noticable lag.

OMS doesn't/didn't work well for me. (4.00 / 4) (#23)
by coffee17 on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 09:38:54 PM EST

hmmm, I have the latest (user) version on my machine at home (900MHz athlon, 256MB RAM), and using OMS was pretty crappy and it crashed a lot. Since I am lucky enough to have a 80G raid0, I've adapted my process to be rent a movie; rip the vobs for the movie (I'm not a fan of "special features"), and watch in xmovie. however, since I've already gone thru the waiting 10-20 minutes for a full rip, I also use a slightly modified mpeg2divx so that I can keep a cdrom as a momento. I've just recently come across vlc, and haven't tested it to see how it performs, hopefully it will do well, but whatever will I do if I have no necessity to rip DVD's... perhaps I'll find the hassle of ripping them enough that I don't bother, which would be a laugh at the MPAA (I only came across divx because of all the hassles/searches it took me to finally be able to watch DVD's under linux (this was back in November (of 2000) or so when avifile had just come out, but oms wouldn't even start on my system (heck, I don't think that it was even "OMS" then...)).

The main problem with after ripping is that while some systems will play .vob files, they'll choke on .ifo files, and I don't want to have 4-8 pauses while I restart the player with a new .vob while watching. At least the version of LAMP I had (don't remember the version, don't have a net connection at home either), as well as (oddly enough) dvdview.


Wow... (1.00 / 13) (#24)
by MattGWU on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 10:00:17 PM EST

....you mean to say that watching DVDs on Linux is a difficult proposition with limited success for your trouble?! Jeeze, you must be yanking my chain..............this is a new one on me, and I'm sure, many, many other members of the Linux community. Your groundbreaking, origonal (if there's another article anywhere on this topic, I sure haven't read it) has opened my eyes to this issue.

Your article has missed one of the W's of good journalism....why?
This is just my little pet theory (so try and keep it on the down low, ok?), but I suspect that some gigantic, near monopolistic corperation (possibly working in concert with many other firms) is at work here...this might go all the way to the top, messing with the very laws that this nation was founded on lo many years ago!!

Hey, now that you have your linux box up, wanna go for a quick game of Counterstrike? Do you have cs_ccombat? Damn good, but oft overlooked map


DVD with xine (3.50 / 4) (#26)
by Kev Vance on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 02:21:10 AM EST

I had a similar experience a few weeks ago, except I used xine. Nobody seems to mention that you have to set the reigon on the dvd-rom before you can use it, and I found the software to do it hard to track down. Afterwards, xine was easy to use, and it used the XVideo extension so the gpu on my Matrox card scaled the picture to the full 1600x1200. No frames dropped at all. This is probably preferable to SDL.

Another Option (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by Morn on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 08:19:28 AM EST

You might want to take a look at VideoLAN. Personally, I don't have a DVD drive, but my flatmate uses sucessfully.

Also, being European, it's unencumbered by weirdo american anti-reverse-engineering laws.

Creative DXR2 (4.80 / 5) (#30)
by DJBongHit on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 11:34:13 AM EST

I've been watching DVDs under Linux with hardware acceleration for 2 years now, using Creative's DXR2 decoder card (came with the PC-DVD Encore package). Creative released GPL'ed drivers for this card a LONG time ago, and they work beautifully. There's a binary module, but it's not code, only data (IIRC). All the code is under the GPL.

The Linux drivers actually have slightly better picture quality than the Windows drivers, too, and TV-out works perfectly. The only thing is that, at least a year ago, the DVD menus didn't work - but this is a good thing, since it lets you skip the menus and FBI warning and all that crud and go straight to the movie :)

There are also drivers for the DXR3 floating around somewhere, and supposedly they work fine. The DXR2 isn't being sold anymore, but I'm sure you can find 'em on Ebay pretty cheap, and they work great. I just gotta get a higher-quality passthrough cable.


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

Do you need the drive? (2.00 / 1) (#34)
by Lance on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 06:31:11 AM EST

I have a DXR2 lying around here somewhere, but the Creative drive stopped working a long time ago. The Windows drivers won't install without the original, Creative drive. Do the Linux drivers work and DVD drive?

[ Parent ]
Er... (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by Lance on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 06:35:27 AM EST

I screwed that post up. Meant to say, "do the Linux drivers work with any DVD drive?"

[ Parent ]
They should (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by DJBongHit on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 12:16:53 PM EST

I don't think that there's anything special about the drive, AFAIK it's just looks like an ATAPI CD-ROM with a much larger capacity to the OS.


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
They do (none / 0) (#40)
by ultrasoul on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 08:08:41 AM EST

I'm using my old dxr2 with a cheap lite-on drive, works fine (just set the region coding, like the author points out)

[ Parent ]
Can't #*)&%@# get it to work! (5.00 / 1) (#38)
by mcelrath on Sat Jun 16, 2001 at 01:26:44 PM EST

So I've been trying to get this going for...at least six months. And I've never gotten it to work. I've tried every single piece of software listed here, and many that aren't. Here's a rundown of them, and the problems they have.

Hardware: Athlon 800MHz, nvidia GeForce2 GTS, X 4.0.3 (nvidia drivers have the xvideo extension and do hardware yuv decoding and scaling), kernel 2.4, redhat 7.0. Many things were also compiled with the rh7 kgcc (egcs-1.1.2) since I know the gcc with rh7 is pretty broken (gcc "2.96").

OMS 0.1.2 (LiViD project)
This one is totally incapable of keeping the audio in sync with the video. (This is documented on their web pages -- "no sync code") It is, however, able to play video only at ~200 fps, so my hardware is definitely up to the task. The audio "drifts" with respect to the video, and it just gets worse the longer you play.
xine 0.4.3
segfaults when you try to play anything.
mplayer (0.17a-IdegCounter)
Video jumpy, audio choppy
VideoLan (vlc 0.2.80)
Very good audio/video sync, but constantly drops frames. Consumes ~80% of cpu. If more optimization is added, could be the best player going.
xmovie 1.7
Jerky video, audio "clicks" sometimes, consumes too much CPU.

The sync problems are partially caused by a piece of rotting dogshit sound card (es1371) that has a crystal oscillator that doesn't oscillate at the correct frequency. That is, instead of playing stuff at 44.1kHz, it plays at 44.3kHz or something. I think this should be pretty common among sound cards (I've tried several). So after a minute or two, the audio is out of sync with the video by a few frames, and it just continues to drift, unless the player has some sync code. Even if the oscillator on the sound card were better, the audio/video drift would still happen, it would just take longer. The "right way" to do it is to just feed the audio to the sound card and let it play the audio as fast as it can. The video should play faster or slower (or drop frames) to compensate.

The jerkiness has been seen across several players, and I'm beginning to think it's not the players themselves, but the kernel. (xmovie, mplayer) The video halts for a few frames about once every second. I think perhaps the scheduler isn't giving the player the CPU when it needs it. Has anyone played with real-time kernel extensions, SCHED_FIFO and the like? Anyone have any pointers?

Also I've read something about getting the player to use a raw disk interface. The kernel normally buffers files in memory, but you don't want it to do this with a DVD. Anyone have more info on this? Pointers?

In short, I'm frustrated. Youd think with so much effort going into these things, one of 'em would work...

1^2=1; (-1)^2=1; 1^2=(-1)^2; 1=-1; 2=0; 1=0.

*wham* Port *wham* a *wham* bil *wham* it *wham* y (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by Otto Surly on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 01:44:36 PM EST

My biggest gripe about the current crop of Linux hackers is that they (well, many of them) wouldn't know portable code if it chewed up their Achilles tendon to keep them from running and then sat there munching on their verminous intestines for hours. Last time a tried it, a few months ago, the OMS stuff was filled with unportable crap or dependencies on x86-only libraries. (My Powerbook is the only machine I own that I access directly with any regularity.) It's not just OMS; that kind of crap is all over the place. XMMS, for example, passes around strings of bytes all over the place when what is actually being passed is 16-bit PCM data. (And yes, I've submitted patches, and eventually some of them (or equivalents from other people) even got applied.)

I understand that not everybody has access to non-PC hardware, but things like endianness and word-size and so on are issues that good coding simply doesn't run into: if you treat 32-bit data as 32-bit data instead of as four bytes in some particular order, it will Just Work.

Are you serious? (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by ventonegro on Wed Jul 11, 2001 at 05:35:27 PM EST

I use regularly a SGI O2 at university and I've successfully compiled xmms, gimp, xchat, kvirc and several others "hacker" projects in this machine. And they all work.
"Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin
[ Parent ]
Great Words (none / 0) (#43)
by carwashi on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 10:00:41 PM EST

Thanks for the great article. As im writing thisI am watching "Fight Club" under Linux using OMS. I got it to work on the very first try. SDL does make it perform faster without a doubt. Im only running a PII 300 with 128 ram and it works great on this film. I m gonna try "The Matrix" here in a sec but I imagine that I will need a faster CPU to watch it gracefully though. Thanks for the article. Linux DVD lives right here.

DVD - now on Linux! | 43 comments (39 topical, 4 editorial, 1 hidden)
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