DVD Playback in SuSE Linux 10

SuSE Linux 10 is the best distribution for power users. Oddly though, it can’t play DVDs — unless you tweak it a little. Desktop expert Jason Perlow shows you how.

Well, hell froze over: Novell took me seriously when I said they should open source SuSE Linux Professional. Color me impressed — even if they didn’t name the distribution “Geeko”. (I guess you can’t have everything.)

I also said in a previous column that if Novell opened SuSE Linux Professional, I’d go out on a limb and run the distribution personally, because its sibling, SuSE Linux is that good. Thus, I recently installed SuSE Linux 10 on my brand new HP nx9600, a fire-breathing, 3.6 GHz, 64-bit, dual-core, Pentium 4 laptop with a 17-inch LCD screen and a built-in DVD-recorder unit.

I must say I am dazzled with SuSE Linux 10’s performance and its plethora of features and bleeding-edge enhancements. The distribution is a power user’s delight. It’s that good. In fact, I think every advanced user looking for a state-of-the art Linux distribution should go to http://www.opensuse.org and download a copy right now, especially if you have a PC with a 64-bit chip, such as the Pentium 4 HT or the AMD Athlon FX/64. If SuSE Linux 10 were a car, it’d be a BMW 760i or a Mercedes S-Klasse S55 AMG.

Imagine my surprise, however, when I discovered that DVD playback capability was intentionally crippled in the open source version of SuSE Linux 10. Whoa! Or should I say, Scheiße!

Geben Sie Mir Meinen DVD Spieler, Dumbkopf!

Of course, you can play DVDs on Linux, and you most certainly can have it in SuSE Linux 10, but to do so, you have to jump through a few hoops, make a few modifications, and possibly break a few laws — kind of like yanking the catalytic converter and adding Euro-spec Bosch headlights and a high-performance intake and exhaust system to your high-performance German touring sedan.

Due to a variety of legal issues, SuSE Linux 10 cannot include working copies of a number of components needed for DBD playback. So, the first thing to do is remove the bad parts to make room for the new ones. Fire up a command prompt, type…

$ su root

… and then enter the root password. Once you’re root, run the following set of commands:

# rpm –e kdemultimedia3-video-xine-3.4.2-10
# rpm –e amarok-xine-1.3.1-7
# rpm –e xine-ui
# rpm –e xine-lib
# rpm –e kaffeine

These commands remove crippled versions of the libraries and applications needed to play DVDs.

YaST2: Der Überconsole

Now it’s time to put in the good parts. Assuming that you’re still logged in as root, type…

# yast2

… to launch the YaST2 Control Center (YaST is purportedly an acronym for “Yet another Software Tool”), the SuSE “ überconsole” that allows you to configure virtually every aspect of your SuSE Linux system.

FIGURE ONE: The YaST2 “Software Source Media” screen

Once YaST2 is launched, click on “Software”, then “Installation Source” to reveal the “Software Source Media” screen (See Figure One.) Next, click on “Add& gt; HTTP”. For the server name, type in packman.iu-bremen.de; for the directory, use suse/10.0 (see Figure Two). Then click on OK. Click on Finish to exit the “Software Source Media” screen and to return to the “YaST Control Center” screen.

Figure Two: Adding an HTTP repository

What did you just do? As it turns out, just as it is with your domestically-bought Mercedes or BMW, there are a number of 3rd-party places to get souped-up replacement parts that aren’t exactly “spec”. One of those places is Packman, a software repository in Germany that makes updated and supplementary RPM packages for SuSE Linux. (For more information on YaST2 software repositories, check out the page about it on the OpenSUSE Wiki at http://www.opensuse.org/YaST_package_repository.)

Packman, Anyone?

Now that you’ve added Packman as an installation source, you can use YaST2’s “Software Management” feature to pull down and automatically install the needed components.

From the main YaST2 “Control Center” screen, click on “Software Management”. The Software Management application will then refresh its internal database of available software from the Packman repository that you just added. Next, from within the Software Management application, enter kaffeine and click on the Search button to yield a list of applications related to Kaffeine, the KDE multimedia player. Check off everything that it finds and click on Accept. (See Figure Three.)

Figure Three: Choosing all of the components needed for Kaffeine

When prompted with the “Changed Packages” window, click on Continue to install the new software from the Packman repository.

Freigabe der libdvdcss, Mein Herr!

At this point, you probably want to fire up Kaffeine and play your Invader Zim DVD. Not so fast, Herr Skippy. Not only do you need the updated Kaffeine and the xine-lib stuff, but you also need this little library called libdvdcss, produced by the international VideoLAN group, which is able to read a DVD like a block device and actually bypass the encryption.

Now, here is where we get into quasi-you might need to seriously consider not doing this territory. The use and distribution of libdvdcss is controversial in a number of countries, including the United States because of its Digital Millennium Copyright Act. If you’re unsure about the legality of using and distributing libdvdcss in your country, please consult your lawyer. Ingredients of libdvdcss include an unknown glowing substance that fell to Earth, presumably from outer space. If after using libdvdcss your computer begins to smoke, get away immediately, seek shelter, and cover head. Your mileage may vary. Please do not taunt libdvdcss.

Since you were going to install that nitrous oxide injector and pull the catalytic converter off your BMW any way, the latest version of libdvdcss can be downloaded from http://download.videolan.org/pub/libdvdcss/. At the time of this writing, the latest version was 1.2.9. Download the RPM version, which you can find at http://download.videolan.org/pub/libdvdcss/1.2.9/rpm/libdvdcss2-1.2.9-1.i386.rpm.

When prompted by your web browser, save the file to your home directory. When finished, and after logging in as the root user, issue the command:

# rpm –Uvh libdvdcss2-1.2.9-1.i386.rpm

(If you’re using the 64-bit version of SuSE Linux, download the libdvdcss source code, libdvdcss-1.2.9.tar.gz, unpack it, change directory to ./libdvdcss-1.2.9/, run ./configure, and then run make install.

So now, if you run Kaffeine and pop in your favorite movie, everything should be wunderbar. And I’d watch out for those black helicopters from the Department of Motor Vehicles if I were you.

In addition to Kaffeine, you might want to also install mplayer, another cool media

player, as well as xine-ui, totem, and gxine, for those of you using GNOME.

Jason Perlow recently spotted Elvis at a computer hobbyist swap meet. You can spot Jason at class="emailaddress">jperlow@linux-mag.com.

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