I'm trying to help an elderly disabled person play DVDs as easy as possible - by inserting them! I'm running 13.04.

I set Totem as the default app. But a couple DVDs didn't play off the bat -- VLC generally better at decoding so I tried. However, setting Open VLC as the action when a DVD is inserted in the appropriate settings doesn't work. Totem DOES launch but has more issues. I think I even set Kaffeine which plays everything like VLC but didn't auto launch.

My goal is

  1. auto play by inserting dvd
  2. smooth ejecting and changing of dvds
  3. widest amount of dvd support

I would use Totem but even though I have restricted extras installed I still get compatibility issues.

  • Do you need an answer with the least possible human interaction, or just basic interaction? I am asking because there might be a better solution to vlc. Also, will this computer be used for anything other than to watch movies?
    – Max Tither
    Jun 14 '13 at 2:14
  • Thanks for the reply. I may add internet access soon, but for now its just used for: playing downloaded movies, playing DVD discs, (and playing music but its not used much for that purpose).
    – James
    Jun 14 '13 at 17:29
  • I was thinking that you could use xbmc for the front end. The user interface is very basic. The only requirement is a keyboard, but a mouse could be used. Then you can set it to auto start. I tried with vlc, and you would need human input eventually, and I would think the UI is overwhelming for an elderly person.
    – Max Tither
    Jun 14 '13 at 17:36
  • Great, this looks very promising, and its great that it runs on Ubuntu already. I hope it works well a touch screen, which I will add soon. Thanks so much for the suggestion.
    – James
    Jun 14 '13 at 18:38
  • No Problem. I am currently posting a full answer. It is very extensible. You can get plugins to watch tv.
    – Max Tither
    Jun 14 '13 at 18:56

Wider Support for DVDs

First, install this package to get wider support for DVDs. I noticed that you did not mention that you installed it. Open the Terminal:

Search the in the Dash for the Terminal, or hit Alt+Ctrl+T and enter this command

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4


To get VlC to launch automatically and play DVD's when inserted into the computer(Note that VLC can not be running for this to work, and when you are done watching the movie, you have to exit it out.), search in the Dash for Details and launch it.

Click Removable Media. Select VLC for DVD Video to be open automatically when a disk is inserted, like shown below:

Select how media be handled


I do believe, however, that you should use XBMC, as it has a simple user interface It only requires basic input, like using Arrow Keys and the Space Bar. You can install it by:

Opening the Ubuntu Software Center, and searching for XBMC


Opening the Terminal (Alt+Ctrl+T), and typing

sudo apt-get install xbmc

Here are some screenshots:

xbmc screenshot 1

xbmc screenshot 2

xbmc screenshot 3

You can install plugins, so you can fetch content from other sources, including some live tv and videos. You can even watch Youtube videos. It is usable with touch screens. It can even run on Android. There are remote controls apps for Android and iOS to control it.

Get it to start on Boot

If you want for it to auto-Launch when the computer is turned on:

Open the dash and search for Startup Applications

Startup applications

  1. Click Add
  2. Name it XBMC, or whatever you wish.
  3. For Command, enter /usr/bin/xbmc
  4. Finally, click Add

startup program

To make it easier, also set the account that the person will be using to login automatically.

Hope this works for you.

  • Thanks, I'll work on it this weekend and post back to review my experience.
    – James
    Jun 14 '13 at 20:05
  • ok, no problem, as I said, hope it goes well.
    – Max Tither
    Jun 14 '13 at 20:06
  • Being an XBMC freak, I can't help but suggest Yatse for android as a remote. It's amazing. :0) Jan 10 '14 at 20:34

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