Linux App Finder's first multi-page article is now available. Check out Search for a DVD Ripper for reviews of some of the top GNU/Linux alternatives. The goal was finding the best app for converting the main movie of a DVD to a single file playable on any computer. As a bonus I threw in a few apps targeted at creating DVD ISO's for burning back to a rewritable disk.
AcidRip is a solid program that uses the Gtk toolkit, and therefore may appeal more to Gnome users. I tested with version 0.14-0.2. My rip of WarGames took about 4.25 hrs to complete, which places it in the bottom half, but comparable to other MEncoder based apps.
It is a full-featured program with room for a lot of tweaking, however, this flexibility comes at the price of a cluttered interface that could be intimidating to novices. My biggest issue with this program is that progress status was not properly reported. The correct window popped up, but none of the statistics ever updated. Not knowing that the encode is working or having any way to estimate how much work is left can be very annoying.
On the plus side, one of the biggest advantages of AcidRip is a single step that rips and then transcodes. I'm not sure why more apps aren't doing this. It seems like a simple addition that pays off in usability. AcidRip also supports more advanced features like subtitle support.
Even with the multitude of options, AcidRip can still be easy to use if you ignore the features you don't need. Follow along as I show just how simple it is to shrink the a DVD down to a 700MB AVI file. AcidRip defaults to the LAVC codec.
Set file name, file size, audio, and subtitle options.
Step-by-step (with default file size and options):
- Click Load at the top right of the Window read the DVD.
- Pick a Track title that will be applied to the filename. I chose WarGames.
- Switch to the Queue tab and select the Queue button near the bottom of the window.
- Press start and wait for it to finish.
Choose video codec, cropping, and scaling preferences.
I'm not going to go through each of the options right now because it is beyond the scope of this review, but I can do that later if there is a need. Please ask any questions or add comments in the forums. There is a link to the discussion at the end of the article.
If you want more than just a default rip and really need to tweak every aspect of your movie then AcidRip is definitely a contender, but for basic ripping I prefer a little more polish. I rate it as 3 stars. It would have received a four star rating if the progress reporting worked.
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'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.