If you’ve been using Linux back since DVDs first came out, you might remember just how long it took before DVDs were somewhat supported. Heck, even now, if you want to play an encrypted DVD, you’ll need to add an extra repository and install a few extra packages just to be able to replay them with barely acceptable quality.
Once Blu-Rays came out, it wasn’t a surprise that it was going to be a while before they would also be supported under Linux. However, support has finally arrived and it’s actually easier to get Blu-Rays working than it is DVDs.
It’s important to note, sadly, that support for Blu-Rays isn’t perfect, so you can’t expect to have all Blu-Rays to work. At least a majority of discs should work under Linux, but some discs have special encryptions in place that require functionality that isn’t put in place. Additionally, all BD+ discs are currently not supported at all. As a general rule, I always like to recommend converting all of your movies (of any sort) into a playable video file as they’re easier to play/manage, and the concept of using discs is starting to become obsolete (see Macbooks and Ultrabooks without an optical drive).
Finally, under Linux, VLC is the go-to app for Blu-Ray playback. Other media players are either unsupported or “at your own risk”. If you absolutely want to use a different media player, I recommend looking into Blu-Ray playback with MPlayer.
Set Up On Ubuntu
If you’re running the latest version of Ubuntu (13.04 “Raring Ringtail” at the time of writing or any future release), getting Blu-Rays to work is as simple as installing the VLC Media Player. Already famous as the most popular open source media player, VLC is capable of playing literally everything under the sun. Sure, it might not have the prettiest interface out of them all, but it is a highly functional interface – plus all that really matters is whether it plays your media or not anyway.
Blu-Rays work under VLC because its installation also forces the installation of the packages libaacs0 and libbluray1, which are necessary to read those discs.
The player probably will not launch automatically whenever you insert a Blu-Ray disc, so you’ll need to open up VLC yourself, then choose Media –> Open Disc. Then choose Blu-Ray from the assortment of media options, and make sure that No Disc Menus is selected to prevent VLC possibly crashing. Hit Play, and you should be ready to go.
Set Up On Fedora
If you’re on another Linux distribution such as Fedora, the process of getting Blu-Rays to work isn’t quite as easy. Although, with a little bit of effort, you can get it working in no time. This is still a lot less work than what was previously required to get Blu-Ray to work under any distribution of Linux.
Similar to Ubuntu, you’ll want to have the packages libaacs and libbluray installed on your Fedora system to support Bluray playback. While the Fedora repositories do not include these packages because of Fedora’s strict open source policies, the friendly folks over at the RPMFusion repository easily offer these packages.
Head over to their site, and add the free and non-free repositories according to their instructions. Then, after updating your package lists with the command :
sudo yum check-update
…run the command :
sudo yum install libaacs libbluray libbluray-java vlc
This command will install the needed packages as well as the VLC media player.
You’re almost done. You now just need to update the decryption keys that are used by libaacs. This can easily be done with two commands in the terminal:
mkdir -p ~/.config/aacs/
cd ~/.config/aacs/ && wget http://vlc-bluray.whoknowsmy.name/files/KEYDB.cfg
After a restart, you should be able to start VLC, choose Media –> Open Disc, and choose Blu-Ray with the No Disc Menus option selected.
I’ve only included instructions for Ubuntu and Fedora because they are the top two distributions that use different package formats. If you use any of the Ubuntu variants or Linux Mint, following the Ubuntu instructions step-by-step should work for you as well. Otherwise, you should search the Internet for your own distribution along with Blu-Ray keywords, such as “arch linux bluray” or “arch linux libaacs libbluray“.
Do you watch Blu-Rays on your Linux system? Do you have tips and advice for Linux-using Blu-Ray watchers? If so, let us know in the comments.
Image Credit: Cati Kaoe
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