Watching DVDs on Ubuntu

Many moons ago I published a post about my problems in playing DVDs in Ubuntu GNU/Linux. The main problem was that I simply couldn’t. Which is quite a big problem, particularly for me.

Well, now I can without going through the hoops I posted about last time. Thanks to the updated version of the Linux kernal found in the latest version of Ubuntu, the fix for UDF now actually works. To apply it you need to change a file you find in


You need root privileges to write to this file, so to get them I opened it up in the gedit Text Editor using the sudo command.

sudo /usr/bin/gedit /etc/fstab

Then I commented out the line that read:

/dev/scd0       /media/cdrom0   udf,iso9660 user,noauto,exec,utf8 0       0

By putting a hash (#) symbol in front of it and then added a line underneath it that read:

/dev/scd0 /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 users,noauto,uid=0,gid=46,mode=0777,dmode=0777,nosuid,noexec 0 0

This should be all one line. Once that is done, video DVDs will actually mount, and you can actually play them.

Now I can watch DVDs just like this one!

I had another problem with video in Ubuntu, and that was Totem never seems to be able to work out the duration of a VOB or MPG video file. It thinks no MPG file is longer than about 24 seconds. Mind you, that’s about four times the average attention span these days, which is probably why the bug hasn’t been picked up yet.

I fixed this by the simple expedient of installing the excellent free software media player VLC. It particularly excels with video, and allows me to have lovely jittery interlaced fields using the Video -> Deinterlace -> Linear option.

Ubuntu in state of DVD denial

One of the things I have had trouble with ever since I installed Ubuntu was playing DVDs. I need to use DVDs as source material for the graphics I do for both work and pleasure, and not being able to play all the DVDs I am sent was becoming increasingly frustrating. Although a large number of DVDs wouldn’t even mount in Ubuntu, the DVD player under my telly played them fine.

I tried the normally excellent Ubuntu UK IRC channel to no avail, so I was on my own. Eventually I discovered the mount -l command, and saw the letters UDF. That turned out to be a vital clue.

And today, by a stroke of luck, I found this page. Not only was the problem explained, but a (partial) solution was given. I can now play any DVD, provided I open it from a session of Nautilus running as the root user.

dave@dave-desktop:~ sudo /usr/bin/nautilus

Being careful to save the files on my Desktop, and not root’s Desktop, I could take screen shots that frustratingly I couldn’t delete or move.

That’s because the screen shots I took from Nautilus running as root also had root privilges, so a bit more command line lurve was needed – the “chown” (or change owner) command:

dave@dave-desktop:~/Desktop cd dave Screenshot1.png

Now I’m happy and can do lots of delightfully rainbow coloured Granada “Giro” Gs to accompany Derek Hilton and his band…