Handbrake 0.9.3 – DVD Ripping on Ubuntu

December 11, 2008

As most of my friends can attest, I am very big on making backups of my DVDs, so much so that I rarely pull them out of their case except to make rips of them. I tend to break/scratch discs like none other, so I make it a point to have backups. I am very hard to please when it comes to ripping programs, as I both want to be able to tweak advanced settings to my liking, but also to just be able to throw something in and go. Needless to say, I want the rips to be high quality. I generally use x264 video and AC3 audio muxed into an MKV container, and I’ve found this to be a very good combination. I have tried pretty much every tool that I can find out there to do this for me: dvd::rip, OGMRip, and acidrip to name a few, but have still always fallen back to using a collection of custom CLI scripts that I put together to rip and encode them automatically. I’ve even toyed around with the idea of creating my own GUI, to attempt to fill a rather gaping void of decent ripping programs, but unfortunately not had the time.

Thankfully, this will no longer be necessary. I have just tested the latest Handbrake release for Linux, and I have to say, these guys have outdone themselves. When I last tried Handbrake, it was simply a CLI version on Linux, and a rather bad one at that. My direct mencoder invocations consistently performed better than their command line program’s calls, a reason alone to move on. Beyond that, it was just hard to use, and if I was doing command line, I might as well just use mencoder. Not so anymore with the release of their latest GUI. It’s a GTK frontend, which really does make encoding as simple as point and click. Now Handbrake has long been a favorite on Windows, so this may not come as a surprise to some, but I really was not expecting this kind of release for Linux from them. Kudos.

The following is a short tutorial on how to set up and use the new Handbrake GUI on Ubuntu:

Some people in Ubuntu forums have thankfully set up a PPA repository of Handbrake to make it easier to install. To install Handbrake on Ubuntu do the following:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

Now, you need to copy the lines below into it. If you are on Intrepid, change “hardy” to “intrepid”.

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/handbrake-ubuntu/ubuntu hardy main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/handbrake-ubuntu/ubuntu hardy main

Once you’re done, save and close. Now, reload your repositories and install handbrake:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk

Now Handbrake should be installed. If you’re going to be ripping DVD’s, this tutorial assumes that you have libdvdcss installed. You can grab it off of Medibuntu (help.ubuntu.com) if you don’t. Go to the Sound and Video tab in your menu, and select Handbrake. Alternately, you can just type “ghb” into the command line to start up the GUI. If you are having problems that you need to debug, this may be useful as well. Now you should see the following screen:

Main Menu

Handbrake - Main Menu

As you can see, the GUI is laid out pretty simply. A number of pre-made profiles are there for your convenience on the right side, with profiles for everything from iPods to movies to Xbox 360s. To begin your rip, insert a DVD. Click the Source button and just select the DVD drive that you’ve put the disc into.

Handbrake - Select Source

Handbrake - Select Source

Check to make sure that the correct title that you want was selected, there should be a preview at the bottom. It seems to just select the longest title available. If it is not the one you want, simply select what title/chapters you wish to rip to your file. If you want to rip something such as a TV show season (meaning you want seperate files for each episode), you will need to add each title to the queue individually AFAIK.

Handbrake Title Selection

Handbrake - Title Selection

Choose where you want to save this file. Then, select the file container you want. I personally would recommend the MKV format, as an open source and completely free container, but depending on what you are using your rip for you may not be able to do this. Regardless, there are plenty of options for your container.


Handbrake - Container Selection

All that’s left now is to change the video/audio encoding settings to your liking. You can essentially configure this as much or as little as you’d like to. If you want subtitles included, make sure that the proper ones are selected in the Audio/Subtitles tab. For me, making rips of DVDs is perfectly managed by the High Profile -> Film profile, with a few small tweaks. One thing I would recommend doing is setting your bitrate/final file size in the video tab. I usually go for a 1.4GB file when using h.264 + AC3 5.1 , but again, I go for high quality, you would be perfectly fine going with something lower.

Handbrake Bitrate Selection

Handbrake - Bitrate Selection

Once you’ve configured everything to your liking, just click Start. If you want to add other movies, click Add To Queue, but do remember that you can only have one DVD in your drive at a time.

Handbrake - Start Encoding

Handbrake - Start Encoding

I hope this was helpful to someone out there struggling with encoding DVDs on Linux.  If there are any errors in the above post, or anything you would like my to expand upon, feel free to let me know, I would be glad to help out anyone who’s having trouble. If you are having problems, this forum discussion (ubuntuforums.org) might be of help as well.

UPDATE: I have now also posted a guide on how to restore these rips to DVDs. Hope it’s useful.


17 Responses to “Handbrake 0.9.3 – DVD Ripping on Ubuntu”

  1. Dj Says:

    Amazing trying to find a good ripper for Linux and you helped out so much with this guide!! 🙂

  2. Laymon Says:

    Thanks ALOT! I’ve been trying to compile from source for hours. I will be using your guide to get things done.

  3. Jean-Luc Livi Says:

    First of all, thanks for your effort.

    I haven’t yet tried it, but I was searching the Web for a good, practical and short Handbrake guide and your post did it. Nice!

    I’ll post back here to report how my own installation (and usage) went.

  4. Jean-Luc Livi Says:

    Me again.
    Installed like a charm. Will try to effectively work with it later. Some libs had to be upgraded; hope it doesn’t break something elsewhere.
    So far, so good. Thanx again!

  5. Bobby B Says:

    Cool, I can stop using the lousy DVD rippers on M$ Windoze (sic) and get rid of Ballmers stuff completely! Thanks, BB

  6. […] linux program, Handbrake, for ripping DVD’s and so far, it has worked out really well This article does a really good job explaining it. Merry Ripping! I Love Social […]

  7. MD Says:

    Unfortunately, the HandBrake site doesn’t provide non-deb and/or static binaries for ghb. At least this site has rpms that will work with Mandriva 2008.1/2009.0 (and probably Fedora/SuSe):


    They are based on svn, but seem to work.

    I wonder if HandBrake can handle copy-munged (not just dvdcss) discs? I thought only something like DVDFab (MS-Win) could do those.

  8. supernothing307 Says:

    Thanks for the link, I’m sure some people will find that helpful.

    As for the copy-munged discs, my guess would be no, but I may be wrong. I don’t have any on me to test, you know any known bad discs offhand that I might grab to try it?

  9. Greg Says:

    Nice article on install, and ripping. It seems to stop though once the container is established on the computer disk.
    A nice follow up would be how to actually burn a copy to a DVD. Can handbrake be used for that or do we need another tool?
    Also can handbrake be used to insert sub-titles and menus where there are none on the original DVD? (i.e a home movie that needs jazzing up, or a DVD containing the backup of multi-episodes.)

  10. supernothing307 Says:

    Handbrake unfortunately cannot be used to actually burn DVDs, just rip them. That being said, I believe it can be used to transcode your video files back into the MPEG2 format that it needs to be in so that it can easily be burned to a DVD. I’ll try and write a quick howto on the subject in the next couple days.

    EDIT: Turns out, Handbrake can’t transcode to MPEG2, only from, but there are plenty of other tools out there to do this, so I will look at those and get back to you.

  11. […] free to ask if you need help or clarification. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Handbrake for DVD Ripping on UbuntuDeVeDe and DependenciesCreating a Disk-Based Movie ArchiveBurn a DVD-Video disc Use Microsoft […]

  12. […] Handbrake 0.9.3 – DVD Ripping on Ubuntu « Spare Clock Cycles […]

  13. Zac Says:

    Thank you very much. Enabled the PPA and installed all the three Handbrake packages (problably didn’t need all three). Followed your steps above and it worked perfectly, and it plays on through my Western Digital HD TV. I used the MKV container and h.264 codec (2 passes). The only downside is that this took 3hrs to do one 46min episode (have a Pentium4 2.8GHz PC). I may try a different codec to see if it’s quicker.

  14. Brooke Says:


    I am desperate, maybe you can help. I am converting old videos to mp4. I did the first video using handbrake and it worked great. Now I am doing the same exact thing. I am opening the source, grabbing the file from my dvd(video which I converted to dvd) and then starting the ripping process. Then when I select my new ripped mp4, it shows the very first video which I converted yesterday. This makes no sense. It’s a different source. I was going to uinstall handbrake, and reinstall, but on my mac it’s not letting me unistall. Help Please!!!

    I hope you understand my problem. It’s just not grabbing the source I select. I hear it grabbing it from my dvd drive.. but to no avail, it shows the first video I did every time, which is not in my dvd drive. So confused.. I imagine this is a bug in handbrake.

  15. razor Says:

    please use gksudo for graphical applications, gedit, .. as it will set up the environment correctly. nice guide too.

  16. […] a follow-up to my previous post on using Handbrake to rip DVDs, I wanted to do a short write-up on how to use a program called DeVeDe to restore those MKV, AVI, […]

  17. […] Handbrake 0.9.3 – DVD Ripping on Ubuntu « Spare Clock Cycles – January 31st ( tags: dvd ripping howto guide tutorial handbrake ) […]

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