DVD to Hard Disk Backups

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In yet another weekend technical project, I’ve been playing around with a couple of DVD encoding applications in an attempt to determine whether or not any of them are ready for prime time. So far the verdict is a maybe.

Thoggen‘s working, but I’m guessing is not multi-threaded (my x60s is dual core) because it’s deathly slow. It chewed on the first 40 minutes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail for over 2 hours yesterday before I accidentally brought down the machine with some other things I was doing (no, they weren’t CPU intensive – just ill-advised).

Handbrake for Linux I’ve only played with a bit, due to the limitations Mark discusses. And actually, all things being equal, I’d prefer to go with Mark’s solution because it would allow me to transfer – in theory – the movies to my iPod Video (newly returned from Shanghai thanks to Apple’s warranty).

The problem with Mark’s solution is the dependencies; Mark characterizes it as a “character-building exercise” and that it has most certainly been. Bless the man for scratching this itch, but I wish things were easier on Ubuntu. Unlike Gentoo, where I can compile applications with certain features turned on or off with relative ease via USE flags, I’m rapidly discovering that things are not so simple on Debian/Ubuntu world. After spending an hour trying to get ffmpeg and mplayer compiled with the right support (H.264/AAC and MPEG-2/AC3, respectively), I’m just about at the point where I’m ready to rip the versions installed from the apt libraries out and replace them both with versions built straight from source (just as I would on Gentoo). Ubuntu can’t compile them with that functionality built in, of course, because of some regrettable legal restrictions.

So we’ll see where that goes. I’m hoping to get a DVD or two transcoded before my flight to Anaheim at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning, but it’s not looking good. Particularly since I’m about to head on up to Boulder for some fishing.


  1. The place to get all your non-free media codecs keeps changing, but currently the penguin liberation front is the place to go: http://plf.zarb.org/

    For Debian you can use http://www.debian-multimedia.org/ – in your case you’d use the deb-src lines and apt-get -b source ffmepg then apt-get -b source mplayer.

  2. finally figured this out, James, but unfortunately neither ffmpeg nor mplayer will build for me. i finally got apt to pull from the Debian-Multimedia site by commenting out the other deb-src repositories, but unfortunately both of the packages fail on an apt-get source -b, here’s a sample error:

    reverting patch 03_amr from ./ … failed.
    make[1]: *** [unpatch] Error 1
    make[1]: Leaving directory `/home/sog/applications/ffmpeg/ffmpegcvs-20060814′
    make: *** [clean] Error 2
    Build command ‘cd ffmpegcvs-20060814 && dpkg-buildpackage -b -uc’ failed.
    E: Child process failed

    so still no joy…

  3. The cheap and dirty way is to just remove the offending patches:
    apt-get source ffmpeg
    cd ffmpegcvs-20060814
    cd debian/patches
    rm 03_amr
    cd ../..
    dpkg-buildpackage -b -uc

    Note that mplayer releases include ffmpeg (libavcodec) so there’s no need to compile it separately (maybe Gentoo pulls CVS versions of mplayer?).

  4. still no joy. the dpkg fails looking for the missing patch.

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