My machine can't play encrypted DVDs on a fresh install. How do I add this capability? Another useful bit of information would be what programs are best for playing DVDs, once I'm able to do so. See the similar question here. Will I be able to play DVD movies from any region?


9 Answers 9


To Enable Playback:

  1. Install libdvdread4:

    sudo apt install libdvd-pkg

    Note: You may have to enable multiverse to install this package.

  2. Then install libdvdcss:

    1. Ubuntu 20.04 onward See this answer instead.

    2. Ubuntu 15.10 to 19.10

       sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg

      Then follow the instructions to let it download and compile.

    3. Ubuntu 12.04 to 15.04

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

    (More about libdvdcss here.)

Best Players:

According to the Ubuntu Wiki, Kaffeine, MPlayer, xine, Totem-xine, VLC, and Ogle will play DVDs with libdvdread and libdvdcss installed.

I use both Totem and VLC to play DVDs. It's useful to have both installed, because sometimes one will have a playback quirk that the other will not.


I believe playback will work in any region.

  • 4
    Not all players support DVD Menus yet. One player that does support this is Totem, and I believe VLC can also handle the DVD menus. MPlayer for one does not support menus (yet). Commented Aug 3, 2010 at 0:11
  • Thanks for pointing that out. I made a mistake saying I used MPlayer; I actually use Totem. Don't know how I got them mixed up. I corrected that in my answer. Commented Aug 3, 2010 at 0:41
  • 1
    I tried the commands in this answer but could only get some DVDs to play. City of God doesn't play in VLC on Ubuntu but does on same machine booted into Windows, with VLC. superuser.com/questions/199963/… Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 13:33
  • 1
    @Lexible I’ve been on Windows for a while. Let me know if you come up with a fix, and I’ll update the answer. Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 1:03
  • 1
    @MichaelCrenshaw Will do: It's a brand new DVD (released this year)... I suspect there's some codec/DRM shenanigans obstructing my view. :)
    – Lexible
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 1:38

Commercial DVDs are copy protected to ensure that you aren't able to backup your legally acquired movies, but instead have to buy new ones if they break. You also aren't allowed to enjoy them in just any manner you please; you may only watch them on certain devices with pre-installed decryption keys. Unless those devices are too old, of course; Then you have to buy new ones.

To get around this, install libdvdcss.

From help.ubuntu.com:

Installing libdvdcss

Legal Warning: Check with your local laws to make sure usage of libdvdcss2 would be legal in your area. *[Unless you live in Somalia or some other place with no rule of law, it's not legal]

Ubuntu 10.04 (i386, amd64), 10.10 and 11.04 (i386, amd64)

[edit: This method has been used successfully in 11.10 and 12.04 as well]

Works for old releases that are no longer supported if you have repositories on Cd/Dvd or somewhere. So, anything from 9.04 onwards. The latest LTS, 10.04, and the radically different 11.04 also work this way.

Install the libdvdread4 package (no need to add third party repositories) via Synaptic or command line:

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4

Then open a terminal window and execute:

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

Rebooting may be necessary.

After this, VLC will automatically use it. Some programs may need recompilation.

If after doing all this, you still get messages about not being able to play DVDs, check that the DVD drive has a region set (see below).

  • 2
    I'm not talking about backups of DVDs. I'm talking about when I insert the disk its self! Is there a legal way to do this?
    – rocket101
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 14:25
  • @rocket101 Nope.
    – bessman
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 14:28
  • 2
    Mac and windows can play it just fine. Are they using illegal code?
    – rocket101
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 21:06
  • @Rocket101 On Windows, yes, unless you are using commercial software like PowerDVD or TMT. On Mac I'm not sure.
    – bessman
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 22:13
  • 1
    Apple is in bed with the content industry. I'm fairly certain they (and probably Windows as well) have licenses with the concerning parties. For example, Apple enforces regioning at the hardware level and probably does so in exchange for the ability to play DVDs legally. I imagine Windows has a similar scheme. Consider writing your representatives to repeal / revise the DMCA to legalize such obviously ethical uses.
    – weberc2
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 9:24

Ubuntu 20.10 and later

In Ubuntu 20.10 and later DVD-Video playing library - installer (libdvd-pkg) can be quickly and easily installed from the default Ubuntu repositories. Open the terminal and type:

sudo apt install libdvd-pkg libdvdnav4 libdvdread8  
sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg

Ubuntu 20.04

In Ubuntu 20.04 DVD-Video playing library - installer (libdvd-pkg) can be quickly and easily installed from the default Ubuntu repositories. Open the terminal and type:

sudo apt install libdvd-pkg libdvdnav4 libdvdread7  
sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg

Ubuntu 16.04-19.10

In Ubuntu 16.04-19.10 DVD-Video playing library - installer (libdvd-pkg) can be quickly and easily installed from the default Ubuntu repositories. Open the terminal and type:

sudo apt install libdvd-pkg libdvdnav4 libdvdread4  
sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg # to allow DVD playback

This package provides libraries (including libdvdcss2) that are needed for playing video DVDs with a media player (such as VLC, SMplayer, Totem, etc.). It automates the process of downloading source files, compiling them, and installing the binary packages.

  • For Ubuntu 20.04 libdvdread4 is not available. Apparently it has been replaced by libdvdread7 Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 0:53
  • For Ubuntu 20.10 dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg end with http error 404, The program wants to download http://download.videolan.org/pub/libdvdcss//libdvdcss-.tar.bz2 that does not exist on the server. Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 18:58
  • 1
    This worked for me: download download.videolan.org/libdvdcss/1.4.3 (check the shasum) read and follow the instructions to make and install. Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 19:10

You can add the medibuntu repository. It will add some other niceties like the ability to play some windows-only codecs.

You can find a how-to here : https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Medibuntu

Please note that installing this packages can be illegal in some jurisdictions. You can always buy Power DVD from canonical web store, if your concerned about it.

  • I can't find Power DVD on the store. Is it gone? — edit — there is Fluendo DVD Player however.
    – Hibou57
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 23:37
  • Medibuntu no longer exists
    – K7AAY
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 4:16

If you want to avoid legal issues with libdvdcss, you'll need to install Fluendo DVD Player ($24.95) from Ubuntu Software Center.

  • Could you provide more details what is the problem using libdvdcss instead of Fluendo?
    – desgua
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 23:25
  • 1
    Sorry for the delay but I had major issues with internet. The Ubuntu Community Documentation [1] states: "Legal Warning: Check with your local laws to make sure usage of libdvdcss2 would be legal in your area." For example, VLC's website [2] says that using libcss is legal in France but "In the USA, you should check out the US Copyright Office decision [3] that allows circumvention in some cases." [1]: help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats/PlayingDVDs [2]: videolan.org/legal.html [3]: copyright.gov/1201
    – papukaija
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 20:12

I used AcidRip DVD Ripper and all my problems with playing DVD are gone.


Fluendo produces a binary-only DVD player for purchase that (supposedly) works in Ubuntu quite well. You can get it from their webshop.

Please note that in some jurisdictions (Finland at least) even engaging in discussion about circumvention of copy protections is illegal.


In my case, at a command line launch of vlc I was seeing:

[mpeg2video @ 0x7f5608002a80] hardware accelerator failed to decode picture

For my AMD Radeon R9 290 I resolved it by downloading and installing the latest drivers.


I had troubles with one german dvd with new all-in-player from asus, and only help was to change the region-code: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats/PlayingDVDs#Ubuntu_15.10_and_newer

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