Just updated to the newest version of Ubuntu and now VLC player won't read DVDs and displays the following message every time I try to play a DVD:

Playback failure:
DVDRead could not open the disc "/dev/dvd".
Your input can't be opened:
VLC is unable to open the MRL 'dvd:///dev/dvd'. Check the log for details.

What actions do I need to take?

  • Missing details: Which Ubuntu version? 32-bit or 64-bit? Have you loaded the optional extras, codecs, DVD handling, etc. ?
    – david6
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 0:57
  • 32 bit, have loaded libdvdread 4. I am new to running ubunto so I have figured out all the optional extras
    – cwood
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 4:45

3 Answers 3


Play DVD's on VLC Ubuntu 13.10:

  1. Make sure your entire os system is up to date with ubuntu software updater.

  2. Install vlc:

    sudo apt-get install vlc
  3. open source alternatives to DRM around DVD's

    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
    sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2 libdvdnav4 libdvdread4
    sudo apt-get install libavformat-extra-53 libavcodec-extra-53 libdvdread4
    sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh
  4. Restart the computer, Run VLC, Right click the screen "Open Media" -> "Open Disc".

  5. Select the DVD radio bubble

  6. The DVD menu comes up and I can click on the screen to navigate the menus and play the DVD.

Update from 10 years later...

DRM has had its way with unix on Ubuntu, here's a nickel kid, use a better operating system.

  • For those using Kubuntu, the restricted extras are different: sudo apt-get install kubuntu-restricted-extras
    – Borjovsky
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 21:24

I had the same issue after installing all needed codecs. I found that I needed to add the symbolic link to the DVD

sudo ln -s /dev/sr0 /dev/dvd

Try entering these three commands: (to see if any of it is missing)

sudo apt-get -y install w32codecs ubuntu-restricted-extras

sudo apt-get -y install libdvdcss2 libdvdnav4 libdvdread4

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh


If you don't already have Medibuntu (Ubuntu Media extras), then add that first:

Add repository

sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update (all on one line)

Add repository key

sudo apt-get --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring

Update packages

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y upgrade

Update Software Center (with new media-apps)

sudo update-apt-xapian-index (this may take 40+ seconds)

  • Everything else seemed fine but was missing the codecs. This is the message I got: E: Unable to locate package w32codecs
    – cwood
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 7:31
  • 1
    Medibuntu repository no longer exists. You have to choose the ubuntu-restricted-extras.
    – user85164
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 22:09
  • Agreed. Time has moved on. For a new install of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or 13.10 you can just use restricted extra. There are still issues with 13.10 (or 13.04), and I should update my answer ..
    – david6
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 7:10

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