Update: See the updated instructions for recent Ubuntu releases.

Like Adobe Flash and proprietary media formats, playback of encrypted DVDs is something that Ubuntu can’t distribute in the default desktop. Adding support for playing your commercial DVD videos in Ubuntu isn’t a difficult task.

There’s a script included in Ubuntu that can install software for decrypting DVDs, run it by pasting the line below into your terminal:
sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/install-css.sh

If all went well, that script should have downloaded and installed the libdvdcss2 package for you.

Whenever you insert a DVD, the Totem Movie Player should launch and begin playing the disk. Unfortunately, Totem makes a really poor DVD player as it does not support DVD menus. It’s possible to install a different back-end for Totem to play DVD menus, but I just like to use the VLC media player instead. I’ve found that VLC does a fantastic job with DVDs.

Install VLC from the package vlc (click the link to install), or by running the command below in your terminal:
sudo apt-get install vlc

Open VLC from Applications->Sound & Video->VLC media player. To play a DVD, click File->Open Disk.

VLC disk dialog

There’s a lot of options in this dialog, just make sure the disk type is set to DVD (menus), click OK, and the movie should begin to play.


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