Full Speed Ahead with Handbrake
As an animation and comic-book fan, I like to watch various TV shows and movies featuring my favorite characters, ranging from the Simpsons and Superman to Looney Tunes and the X-Men films. Like most such fans, I've also bought the various DVD releases of these shows. However, since I'm not always at home, I also like watching TV programs and movies on my laptop or Palm Pre smartphone. It's great to be able to watch films while on vacation and other trips, or cartoons while commuting on the bus to work. Instead of repurchasing digital download versions of these programs, however, I find it's much cheaper (and easier, when factoring in the lack of Linux-friendliness of some on-line digital video stores) to convert my DVDs into more versatile, computer-ready video files. Doing this gives me such advantages as being able to store my video collection in an easily accessible format (without having to swap DVDs from my bookshelves), being able to convert the files for playback on various devices (such as my Pre or my old iPod), and keeping a backup of my DVD collection. Although various video conversion programs are available for Linux, the most user-friendly one I've found is Handbrake.
Handbrake, a cross-platform program (with versions available for Windows and OS X along with Linux), comes in both a command-line version and a GUI version for Linux. An open-source program, Handbrake offers the ability to convert from unencrypted DVD video sources (including VIDEO_TS folders, .VOB and .TS files, and .ISO images) and most multimedia files that FFmpeg can handle, including AVI (.avi) and MPEG (.mpg) files. Output formats include the Matroska (.mkv) and MP4 (.mp4) video containers; H.264, MPEG-4 and Theora video codecs; and AAC, MP3 and Vorbis audio codecs (along with AC3 passthrough).
Installation of Handbrake itself is straightforward. If Handbrake isn't offered in your system's package manager, the Handbrake Web site's downloads section offers you the choice of installing either a command-line version or a GUI version, for either 32-bit or 64-bit systems. For the purpose of this article, I cover the GUI version, which keeps with Handbrake's emphasis on user-friendliness. If the .deb or .rpm files offered (geared toward Ubuntu and Fedora users, respectively) aren't sufficient, another option is to download the source code and compile Handbrake.
Note that Handbrake does not unencrypt encrypted DVDs on its own, which includes most commercial DVDs available. Before installing Handbrake, make sure the libdvdcss library is installed first. The legality of converting DVD video for one's personal use may vary by locality, so check with the proper authorities before proceeding.
To cover the basics of Handbrake, let's use it to convert to a more laptop-friendly format DVD of the hit 2000 superhero film X-Men about Marvel Comics' classic mutant-powered superhero team. After inserting the DVD into the computer (and launching Handbrake), select the Source button (Figure 1).
If the DVD's directory isn't selected automatically, navigate to it; afterward, select OK, and Handbrake will read the DVD's tracks. The movie's available tracks will be displayed in the drop-down Title menu, next to the Chapters beginning and ending boxes and an Angle box. The movie itself generally will be the track with the longest time listed. Select the movie's track, then under the File destination box, type what you want to name the movie. If you don't want to convert all the chapters from the original source (say, if you just want the opening title sequence or a particular scene), type in the Chapters boxes the desired range of chapters. The Angle box can be ignored by most users (including for our purposes here), given its infrequent use on DVDs.
The next step is to decide whether you want to use Handbrake's presets or your own customized settings. One of Handbrake's strengths is its various presets, which allow you to choose a convenient high-quality setting for various conversion purposes. Previous versions of Handbrake offered myriad presets, but as shown in Figure 3, version 0.9.4 (the most-recent version, at the time of this writing) has simplified the offerings for convenience and now include Normal (the default) and High Profile (high-quality) presets; presets for the iPod, the iPhone/iPod Touch and the Apple TV; and several now deprecated legacy settings, aimed at users of previous versions of Handbrake.
For my purposes (keeping the file to play on a laptop), I usually select High Profile, a high-quality setting, though I've also found the iPhone/iPod Touch preset helpful for making files specifically for watching on my Pre, which uses the same video settings as the iPod Touch and iPhone.
If you're fine with the presets settings as is, the next step is to select Start, and Handbrake will begin converting the video. However, if you want to convert multiple DVD tracks (say, the extras on a movie DVD or all the episodes from a TV show DVD), select Add to Queue first to add the current track, then select another track as previously described, and click Add to Queue. Repeat until you've chosen all the desired tracks from the DVD, then select Start.
If you're looking for finer control over the conversion settings, you need to do more than just the above, of course. As shown in Figure 1, Handbrake offers several different tabbed panes to adjust various settings. The panes include Picture (the default displayed in Figures 1 and 2), Video, Audio, Subtitles, H.264 and Chapters. Let's look at what each pane offers.
Fast/Flexible Linux OS Recovery
On Demand Now
In this live one-hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for complete disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible full-system recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.
Join Linux Journal's Shawn Powers and David Huffman, President/CEO, Storix, Inc.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
|Fancy Tricks for Changing Numeric Base||May 29, 2016|
|Working with Command Arguments||May 28, 2016|
|Secure Desktops with Qubes: Installation||May 28, 2016|
|CentOS 6.8 Released||May 27, 2016|
|Secure Desktops with Qubes: Introduction||May 27, 2016|
|Chris Birchall's Re-Engineering Legacy Software (Manning Publications)||May 26, 2016|
- Tips for Optimizing Linux Memory Usage
- Working with Command Arguments
- Secure Desktops with Qubes: Introduction
- Secure Desktops with Qubes: Installation
- Download "Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI"
- CentOS 6.8 Released
- The Italian Army Switches to LibreOffice
- Linux Mint 18
- Chris Birchall's Re-Engineering Legacy Software (Manning Publications)
- ServersCheck's Thermal Imaging Camera Sensor
Until recently, IBM’s Power Platform was looked upon as being the system that hosted IBM’s flavor of UNIX and proprietary operating system called IBM i. These servers often are found in medium-size businesses running ERP, CRM and financials for on-premise customers. By enabling the Power platform to run the Linux OS, IBM now has positioned Power to be the platform of choice for those already running Linux that are facing scalability issues, especially customers looking at analytics, big data or cloud computing.
￼Running Linux on IBM’s Power hardware offers some obvious benefits, including improved processing speed and memory bandwidth, inherent security, and simpler deployment and management. But if you look beyond the impressive architecture, you’ll also find an open ecosystem that has given rise to a strong, innovative community, as well as an inventory of system and network management applications that really help leverage the benefits offered by running Linux on Power.Get the Guide