dvd ripper

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dvd::rip

dvd::rip is another ripper with a Gtk based GUI, however it still hasn't made the transition to Gtk2 in the stable release. Fortunately the website lists that the unstable release addresses this deficiency, however, I tested with the 0.52.7 version that is the most recent in the Marillat repository, so I was unable to evaluate the new interface.

A two step program, dvd::rip took slightly more than 5 minutes to rip my DVD and roughly 3.5 hrs to complete the transcode which ranks it as the second fastest in my round-up. It's worthwhile to note that the two quickest apps both used transcode for their back-end.

Other than the GUI, one of the first thing you'll notice is the need to set Preferences prior to ripping a DVD. I'm not sure why it doesn't default to the user's home directory, but it doesn't so you need to set it manually. The developers really should change this so the default is at least usable. Another feather in dvd::rip's cap is that it is very easy to determine if the needed support programs are installed and/or correctly configured. Each tab in the Preferences window also displays the status of any helper programs that are needed. Installing all of the Suggested and Recommended programs in Debian should have you covered.

One really cool sounding feature is Cluster Mode. I did not take the time to set it up for my test, but it is definitely worth looking into if you have a lot of DVD's to transcode or need to do them quickly once you start. For an activity as compute intensive as ripping and transcoding video, having the ability to use multiple computers on your home network can drastically improve your performance. Couple that with dvd::rip already being one of the fastest with just a single computer and you have a real speed demon on your hands.

As with AcidRip, I'll do the step-by-step assuming default settings. I had to make a couple adjustments on my system though. DivX4 is the default codec, but it did not run so I switched to DivX5 instead. I also notice some slight clipping of the file so I set the presets to No Modifications on the Clip & Zoom tab.

dvd::rip RIP Tab

Select the desired title from the DVD and rip it.

Step-by-step (with default file size and options):

  1. Set Preferences.
  2. After completing the Preferences, select New Project from the File menu.
  3. Type in a Project Name in the Storage tab.
  4. Select Read DVD table of contents from the RIP Title tab.
  5. Select RIP selected title(s)/charter(s).
  6. Switch to the Transcode tab.
  7. Click Transcode in the Operate section at the bottom of the window and wait for it to complete.
dvd::rip Transcode Tab

Choose video codec, file size, and audio preferences.

As you can see, there are a few more steps that are needed than with AcidRip. Along with the better default preferences that I mentioned above, a one click button that rips and transcodes would be useful and would dramatically simplify the ripping process.

Despite my dislike for dvd::rip's current appearance, it has the right combination of features, ease of use, and performance. Because of this I decided to give dvd::rip a break and not count it's GUI against it because of the impending redesign. The plan to update to Gtk2 is enough to solidify it's number two position with a four star rating and a second place finish.

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K3b

If you are like me, you didn't even realize K3b was capable of transcoding. I knew that you could rip an iso image for burning, but I never suspected I could create an AVI as well. Being a featured KDE app, K3b uses the Qt toolkit for its GUI. I used version 0.12.15-2. Since K3b is such a widely distributed app, it should be available from any distro's packaging system, and you may have it installed already.

How was the performance you ask? Very fast I'd say. In my test K3b was the fastest of them all, coming in under 3 hrs for the transcode.

Step-by-step (with default file size and options):

  1. Select your DVD drive from the folder tree on the left. The longest movie sequence will be automatically selected. This is usually the main movie, however you can change it if you wish.
  2. Right click the selected title and choose Copy.
  3. Choose your destination directory and click Start. It took about 6 minutes to complete on my computer.
  4. After the ripping stage is complete select Encode Video from the Tools menu.
  5. Select the DVD ripping file you just created and a filename for your movie. I left everything else as defaults.
  6. Click Encode and wait for the transcode to complete.
K3b encoding video

K3b encoding video.

Much like the K3b's primary existance as a CD/DVD writer, it's ripping and transcoding modes are very easy to use. I did run across a bug during the video ripping stage, but it didn't appear to cause any problems with the end result. When preprocessing the DVD, the calculation for percent complete is off and results in the percentage running significantly over 100% (i.e. >10,000%). One caution on this app is a message that appear saying K3b is currently looking for a maintainer, so it is unclear whether bugs like these are actually being fixed right now. If you are interested in this kind of work yourself and want to be involved in a great project it looks like a good time to contact the team and see if they still have an opening.

K3b default file size is a single 700MB file. A handful of other options are available from a drop down list. Many of the other rippers work in a similar fashion. The only reason I mention it here is to note that you can select whatever file size you want, even if it isn't on the list, but you might not realize it at first glance. Choosing --- from the CDs dropdown box will allow you to manually enter a custom file size. This option should really be marked with something more intuitive.

Another feature of note is K3b's support for an AC3 pass-through mode in case you want to maintain surround sound audio. The default is using MP3 compression, but AC3 mode is a good option if you really want Dolby Digital output. Hopefully we'll see an MPEG surround sound standard soon, but until that comes, keeping the AC3 track is the way to go.

K3B is my new favorite DVD ripper and the one I'll be using from now on. The one feature it is missing is support for subtitles. If you don't care about that though, K3b is the easiest and fastest of all the apps I tested. I rate it at 4 stars for DVD ripping, although I consider it a 5 star program for CD/DVD writing. Only its bug during the DVD ripping stage and lack of subtitle support kept it from being a 5. It would also be nice if the rip and transcode pieces could be combined where all of the options are selected up front.

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DVD Copiers

I included K9Copy and xDVDShrink in the chart above even though they don't transcode because I wanted to point out some options for maintaining a full DVD structure and truly copying a DVD (for personal use only of course). K3b also contains this functionality. This section does not contain full reviews, but should provide enough information to get you started.

If you already use K3b, it's likely you'll just want to stick with it, but if you want a single function app that easy to use then K9Copy should be right up your alley. There's not much you can do to mess up this one. Three steps are all you need.

K9Copy Title Selection

Select the desired title and soundtrack from the DVD.

Step-by-step (with default file size and options):

  1. Open the DVD
  2. Select the tracks to copy
  3. Start the copy
K9Copy ripping DVD

K9Copy ripping the DVD.

That's it. It doesn't get much easier. If you do want to burn the iso back to a DVD then what do you use? Why K3b of course. K9Copy has an option to integrate with K3b for the burning process.

xDVDShrink is a little more involved, which is why I prefer both K9Copy and K3b over it. In addition to a standard preferences page, xDVDShrink makes you enter options into a console at runtime. I'm not clear why these settings needed to be separate, but it's very annoying.

My Search for a DVD Ripper

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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.

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