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DVD's are great and I've spent more money than I care to count on them, but if you are like me and have more movies than you can remember, a few TV series spread out over too many discs, or a desire to watch in whatever way is most convenient, you start to wish for a better way to watch. For many of us that means moving our DVD's to hard drives so we can watch them where and when we want. It sounds reasonable and should be straight-forward, but for many it's still a mystical art that takes knowledge and patience.

Today makes the first full length review on Linux App Finder, and I'm please to report that ripping a DVD to your hard drive has never been easier, and you if you are a KDE user you might already have one of these programs installed and not even know it. Eights apps were compared on their ability to rip and transcode a DVD, with a special focus on ease of use. A ninth, Drip, was originally going to be included in the review, but it had missing dependencies in Debian unstable and I was unable to install it.

My primary focus was on converting the main movie title of the DVD to an AVI that could then be played on a varity of devices, but I also included a couple apps meant for creating a backup to a recordable DVD in case that is your preference. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the tests were run on Debian unstable (32-bit). The system I used is a dual Xeon processor with 4GB of RAM. The version of each program is listed in the chart below.

Each of the fully reviewed apps will be awarded between 1 and 5 stars (higher is better).

Before I continue I'd like to mention that there are legal challenges with DVD's. In the United States a law called the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to break any encryption, which makes ripping (and playing in most GNU/Linux distros) a DVD illegal. Some other countries have similar restrictions. These laws are meant to stop piracy, but carry with them the unfortunate side effects of impeding consumer fair use rights. It is for this reason that DVD ripping is not as mainstream as it is with CD's. Now that you know the risks, let's proceed.

Feature Comparison

AcidRip dvd::rip DVD Rip-O-Matic K3b
Version 0.14-0.2 0.52.7 0.94 0.12.15-2
Graphical Toolkit Gtk Gtk Qt Qt
Rip DVD Yes Yes Yes Yes
Transcode Yes Yes Yes Yes
# of Steps¹ 1 2 1 2
Formats² XviD, DivX, lavc, qtvideo, x264 DivX, XviD, MPEG2, Ogg Theora DivX XviD, DivX, iso
Backend Transcoder MEncoder transcode MEncoder transcode
Subtitle Support Yes Yes No No
Cropping/Resize Both Both Cropping Both
Filesize/Bitrate Any Any Any Any
Time³ ~4.25 hrs Rip: >5 mins
Convert: ~3.5 hrs
~4.5 hrs Rip: ~6 mins
Convert: ~2.75 hrs

K9Copy OGMRip Thoggen xDVDShrink
Version 1.0.0-0.1 0.9.0 0.4.2-2 2.6.1.6
Graphical Toolkit Qt Gtk Gtk Gtk
Rip DVD Yes Yes Yes Yes
Transcode No Yes Yes No
# of Steps¹ 1 1 1 1
Formats² iso XviD, lavc, x264, Ogg Theora Ogg Theora iso
Backend Transcoder dvdauthor MEncoder GStreamer transcode, dvdauthor
Subtitle Support Yes Yes No Yes
Cropping/Resize No Both Both No
Filesize/Bitrate <4.7GB Any Any <4.7GB
Time³ Rip: ~ 7mins
Build ISO: ~5 mins
N/A Did not complete ~8 mins

Note 1: # of Steps indicates where you have to manually rip and then encode or if you can set up your preferences and do it all in one step. Setting preferences is not included. This only applies to how many time consuming stages there are.

Note 2: Only the primary codecs are listed. Specific codecs will vary depending upon what you have installed.

Note 3: Time indicates how long the process took. Single step apps show only one time, while it is split out for the others. I did not use exact times because this was not a controlled environment benchmark comparison. The times are estimates for what I saw to give you reasonable expectations.

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