How to downsize your DVD collection with Ubuntu 9.10, Brasero and OGMRip and store it on a HTPC

March 4, 2010

Takeaway: this article boils down to gaining back some space in your lounge, TV room or den by cramming all those DVDs lying around on shelves and elsewhere into a Home Theater PC. All it takes is some planning, time and of course your DVD collection.

First , the planning. You need to know how to go about this project.

The big picture would be:

  1. Prepare the hardware (requirements): if your DVD collection is about 200 DVDs large well we are not talking about the same space required as if it were close to 2000 DVDs. Simple maths can help you with the sizing of your HTPC hard drive(s):
    1. (200 x 1.45GB) x 2 (for growth purposes) = 580GB
    2. (2000 x 1.45GB) x 2 (for growth purposes) = 5800GB or 5.8TB
  2. Rip your entire DVD collection into ISO files format or into DVD structure folders in order to industrialize the encoding process (i.e. it takes less time to rip a DVD than to encode a DVD so it is better to separate the two activities).
  3. Encode the ripped DVDs into your video format of choice

What you need to know:

  • Ripping a DVD means that you are copying the contents of the DVD to your PC (e.g. PC hard drive).
  • Encoding a DVD means that you are converting the DVD file structure into a video format (e.g. AVI, MKV, MP4, etc.).
  • An average size for a DVD would be something in between 4.2GB and 4.7GB.
  • An average size for a video file would be something in between 900MB and 2GB (i.e. for acceptable quality, which may differ depending on whom you ask about video quality).
  • As of today, the largest hard drives available on the market are about 2TB.
  • You can add many drives together in order to store you video collection if it requires more than the largest hard drive available.

Applications you need to install (if not already installed):

  • Brasero (version: 2.28.2 – Credits: Philippe Rouquier)
    • In Graphic mode: Applications > Ubuntu Software Center > type in the search field “brasero”
    • In command line mode: $ sudo apt-get install brasero
  • DVD OGMRip Encoder (version: 0.13.2 – Credits: Olivier Rolland)
    • In Graphic mode: Applications > Ubuntu Software Center > type in the search field “ogm”
    • In command line mode: $ sudo apt-get install ogm

As this article focuses on the ripping and the encoding part let’s move on to that second point.

There are many ways to this. This is the one I have chosen.

Second, the ripping…

The simplest way to rip a DVD is to insert it in your DVD drive, let it spin for a few seconds until you are prompted to choose which application you wish to run the DVD in.

Here is the result after inserting the great DVD “Thank You for Smoking”:

You could choose to play your DVD on your computer with Movie Player but we are going select the “Brasero” application, so browse the list until you reach the “Brasero” application.

Click on the OK button.

Then select the Image file option in the list “Select a disk to write to”.

In order to change the location of the file and its name, click on the “Properties” button.

Then change the name if you wish to give it a shorter name for example “ThankYou.iso”.

Finally, click on the “Copy” button to launch the process (i.e. copying the DVD structure to an ISO file format).

The creating process looks like this:

Once it is complete, it should look like this:

Depending on how fast your computer is you may want to launch a DVD ripping session while you are having lunch or diner or are doing something else than sitting in front of your PC as the process may be a resource hog on a old computer. For the lucky ones who own more than one PC this will not be an issue…

Third, the encoding…

Store all ISO files into one directory (e.g. /home/username/Movies_Pending/) to avoid ripping the same DVD twice 😉

Open DVD Encoder OGMRip: Applications > Sound & Video > DVD Encoder OGMRip

Once the application is running, click on the “Load” button.

Then the following window pops up prompting you to select a DVD drive:

Instead of a DVD drive we shall select an ISO file:

Select the directory in which you stored all the DVD ISO files.

Choose one ISO file: we choose the only one there 😉 which is “ThanYou.iso”

So double-click on the file and you should get to this window:

Clicking on the “Load” button should bring you straight to the settings for the encoding.

At this stage, you should choose: the “Title” – give a name to the output file – and select the “Video Stream” – this is automatically done for you – as well as the “Audio Tracks” – to select your language and the sound output (e.g. AC3 Stereo or AC3 5:1 depending on the sound system you have at home) – and finally select the “Subtitles” – here you choose the subtitle languages you wish to make available.

NB: If you are learning a foreign language think of leaving in the output file the foreign language sound tracks and the various subtitles otherwise just keep the preferred language and discard all the others (i.e. to save storage space).

In order to select more than one sound track or subtitle you need to click on the green “+” button next to the drop down list.

Once you are all set click on the “Extract” button to proceed. It leads you to the following window.

Now you will choose the quality and the type of the output file…

As you can notice, there are quite a number of options available for many portable devices and for the home PC.

Among the best known devices are the Apple iPhone, the Apple iPod, the Archos 5, the Archos 605, the Blackberry Bold 9000, the Microsoft XBox 360, the Microsoft Zune and the Nokia S60. Other profiles can be downloaded very easily.

We shall pick the “PC, High Quality” profile with an “MKV” extension. The quality as discussed before is up to you. However we can consider this profile to be the perfect fit for DVDs.

Once your choice is made, you can proceed to the next step which is all about industrializing the encoding process. All you need to do is to click on the green “+ Enqueue” button which will lead you to the list of jobs you are preparing before executing them all at once (i.e. preferably at night when you don’t need your computer as encoding is very demanding on your computer resources).

Finally, click on the “Execute” button to start the list of jobs.

NB: jobs can be suspended and resumed by the click of a button.

After converting all your DVDs to video files, if you are not a fetishist (i.e. you can get rid of all your DVD cases and just keep the covers) you can  store all your DVDs (i.e. without the DVD case) in a CD/DVD wallet like the one below:

Warning: In some countries, backing up DVDs you legally own is not legal. Be sure to check out the laws that apply in your country before following this “How To”




DVD Encoder OGMRip