DVD Rip-O-Matic is the first of the Qt based apps in my round-up. It aims to be a simple wizard thats easy to use. It some areas it succeeds very well, but in others it falls flat. I used version 0.94 which was the latest downloadable from the website. Binary deb and rpm packages are not available so DVD Rip-O-Matic must be installed from the command line.
Fortunately, DVD Rip-O-Matic offers multiple ways to get started. Start by decompressing the tar.bz2 archive. You can then either install the program by running Installer.kmdr or you can run it immediately by running DVDRipOMatic.kmdr. I did the later by right clicking on the file and opening it with Kommander Executor.
Finishing as one of the slower apps we'll review today, DVD Rip-O-Matic took more than 4.5 hrs to complete.
Step-by-step (with default file size and options):
- Click Next on the intro page and then Scan DVD.
- Pick the Title and Soundtrack you want to encode and select Next.
- Select Next if you through the Cropping, Storage, Quality, Splitting Points, and Movie Properties pages.
- Press Start to execute.
- A console will popup and do some calculations. It will then notify you of the estimated time to completion. Hit OK to continue and wait for it to finish.
When you first start to run through DVD Rip-O-Matic you expect a simple process, but it quickly spins out of control. The one configuration per screen idea is fine if you are going to keep it simple, but it starts to get frustrating when more advanced features are implemented that way. There are 10 next clicks that have to be made, regardless of whether you want to actually change any setting or not. Clearly a case of simplicity taking away from useability.
I also ran into frustrations when changing the file sizes. Resolution is automatically adjusted based on the file size and audio quality suggested instead of simply changing the bit rate. That's fine if the selection is understandable, but you don't find out what the resolution will be until you hit Next. 640x480 was the max I could get, and whenever the settings stayed with that resolution the program would tell me my bit rate was too high.
My final nitpicks are with the encoding process itself. I mentioned the console that appears during the step-by-step instructions. After hitting OK for actually execute the rip and transcode, a console reappears for the remainder of the time. It is difficult to gather any useful information from it, particularly how much progress has been made. For a polished looking wizard dropping back to a console when doing the real work is a strange departure from the rest of the interface.
For my taste, DVD Rip-O-Matic gets a 3 rating and falls behind AcidRip for apps that I would use. Despite the nice wizard interface, there are too many clicks to get where I want to go.
I found OGMRip late, but included it here to provide one more option. I didn't actually run the program myself so I can't give it a rating, but the website gives a good overview and a number of screenshots so you should be able to get a good feel for what it can do. The main downside to this one for me is the lack of any deb package. Of course it can be installed from the command line, but I prefer to stick to the Debian packaging system wherever possible so I can more easily manage updates.
Thoggen has promise, but it's currently still in beta and it shows. I used version 0.4.2-2.
Like K9Copy, Thoggen aims to provide a very simple interface that still gets the job done. But unlike K9Copy, it supports transcode to a single file. Thoggen currently only supports the Ogg Theora format, but it is based on GStreamer and the website indicates other formats are likely to be added in the future.
Once complete, Thoggen will likely rival K3b, but for now it is very slow (the developer acknowledges this) and I could not get the rip to finish. As time passes and bugs are fixed it will definitely be worth reconsideration, especially if you are a Gnome user. Because of the beta status I will decline to provide a rating at this time. Hopefully you will have more success with it than I did.
While I've given away the ratings already, I thought it would be useful to summarize my final thoughts. What I found over the course of writing this article is that while there is no one clear app for everyone, Linux offers many useful tools to do the job. And it's an easier job than you might expect.
The keys areas for most apps to improve is in creating a single click rip and transcode, better default settings that don't have to be changed by most users, and fixing the known bugs. If more work is put into these three areas then GNU/Linux DVD rippers will finally reach their potential.
I chose K3b as the best DVD ripper because of its clear and attractive interface and its ability to get the job done quickly with minimal fuss and configuration. dvd::rip adds the subtitle feature that is missing from K3b, but goes a step farther to be the only app I found that includes a cluster mode to harness the power of multiple machines on your home network.
If copying a DVD from one physical disk to another is your method of choice then I would look no further than K9Copy. It's simple, easy, and effective.
My final app mention is Thoggen. Its beta status clearly showed during my tests, but the idea and organization of the program makes it a strong future candidate, particularly if you are a Gnome user.
I'm currently in the process of writing a comparison of available DVD ripping programs for GNU/Linux. I picked the best contenders that I'm aware of and compared their features and ease of use. The goal was finding the best app for converting the main movie of a DVD to a single file playable on any computer and the winner is a surprising one (at least to me since I almost didn't include it). As a bonus I threw in a few apps targeted at creating DVD ISO's for burning back to a rewritable disk. Hopefully it will be ready to go within a week. Keep an eye on the News RSS feed for an announcement.