Like a lot of people, I have a lot of DVDs. But we also have a stupid amount of disk space and a media centre (Boxee) so the DVDs are getting less and less use. It would be nice to convert our DVDs into something more relevant to our needs.

I've dabbled with DVD ripping before but whereas I'd usually transcode down to a smaller picture size with a better video compression algorithm, this takes a silly amount of time. I don't have a couple of hours available for each disk. (Sidebar: is there dedicated, Linux-friendly hardware to improve h264 encoding performance?)

So I was wondering if there's anything that take the DVD filesystem, De-CSS it, and then stitch together any the VOBs that make up the main part of the film and package that up in a wrapping format like MKV. A bonus would be if it could grab the subtitles and stick them in too but that's not a requirement as Boxee can grab the subtitles online if it needs to.


I tried mkvtoolnix and it did it instantly, maybe because of copy-on-write feature of Btrfs I use.

  • 5
    Thanks so much for this! This should be the accepted answer as mkvtoolnix a) is completely Free/Libre software, unlike MakeMKV and b) much more powerful as it allows to sync the various streams and set some metadata such as stream language... Wonderful.
    – neitsab
    Feb 14 '18 at 16:15
  • journeybytes.com/…
    – cipricus
    Nov 29 '20 at 22:28
  • 1
    Thanks, @cipricus, your answer accents different aspects. Please, consider posting own new answer.
    – Serg
    Nov 30 '20 at 15:19

MakeMKV seems to be working for me.


Just extracts the non-trivial sized titles from a DVD, puts them un-transcoded in an MKV file. Includes default audio track and the subtitles tracks.

Also does blu-ray apparently (I don't have a drive)

Handbrake doesn't do what you're asking for but it's the best I've found so far for making painless, compressed copied of titles on commercial DVDs


That guides for 12.10, but it works just fine for 12.04 as well. The bit that had me stumped was the package is called handbrake-gtk, not handbrake.

My first attempt with handbrake has compressed 40 minute extras video from a DVD from 1.3GB to 0.3 GB at > 100fps on my PC of, at this point, fairly obsolete power.

However the loss in quality was noticeable to my overly critical eye, but you can bump the quality easily by decreasing the quality slider by small amounts.

  • 1
    Huh, interesting point. I already use this for Blurays but it didn't occur to me that it might also handle DVDs. Thanks!
    – Oli
    Mar 18 '13 at 21:49

There are probably many options, but I use k9copy for this. I use the wizard and select the option "Rip DVD without encoding". It produces a single MPEG-2 file of the selected tracks.


I usually copy the whole DVD into an ISO image. VLC can read those directly I guess many other programs can do the same. The speed is maximal (I just compared to k9copy which is at same speed when just copying) and a wide range of burning applications can be used for that. I usually employ k3b for that. Note, all menus, languages and subtitles are then still available in one file. But if space is really a concern and you don't want foreign subtitles then copying 8GB DVDs is probably not the thing what you are looking for and you should consider re-encoding too. I don't know if those ISOs are De-CSSed (I guess not), but who cares?, almost all players can handle this by now (even its illegal in some countries). In case you want also to remove copyright infringement notices I would also use k9copy for that.

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