Originally Published: Sunday, 9 April 2000 Author: Marius Aamodt Eriksen
Published to: enhance_articles_multimedia/Video Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

DVD and Linux: The Status

What's the of playing DVDs on Linux? Check it out here.

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Introduction DVD compatibility has been a long-awaited feature of the Linux operating system. Recently, this issue has been gaining momentum, spinning off into three big projects.

About DVDs DVD movies are an arrangement of MPEG-2 videos and a multitude of other details such as different soundtracks (languages) and subtitles as well as title screens.

To play a DVD movie on a computer, several things are needed. First of all, one needs to be able to read the data from the DVD disc (done through the DVD-ROM player). Furthermore, one needs a DVD 'navigator,' - an application that will play and navigate through the movie, show title screens and let the user select languages, watch previews, etc. This navigator merely controls what's being played; the actual data has to be decoded via an MPEG-2 decoder card, which, in turn, accesses a graphics card to display the movie on screen. Alternately, some cards offer output directly from the card, either to a TV set or as a loopback to a TV tuner in the computer. It is possible to decode the mpeg-2 via software as well (applications such as MpegTV does this), but to enjoy the full quality of DVD, a decoder card is needed.

Accessing the DVD Disc DVD-ROMs use the UDF filesystem which is supported in Linux either through kernel modules or a patch (both can be gotten here. This will allow the Linux kernel to read DVDs, hence allowing the 'navigation' applications to control them. Access to the DVD drives themselves is achieved with the DVD/CD patch available here.

The 'navigator' applications There exist 2 main projects that are looking to create DVD 'navigators'/players. The first, LSDVD is aiming to "bring a fully functional DVD player/decoder to the Linux operating system" LSDVD has planned to implement only hardware decoding for its first phase (i.e via an MPEG-2 decoder card) but future versions will also include software decoding (and by then, we'll have even faster processors, so this feature will come in handy). The second, The Linux Video and DVD Project is working to create a 'navigator' application for Linux. The Linux Vide and DVD Project also is looking to support other hardware MPEG-2 decoders that are not currently supported.

The Decoder Cards First off is the linuxtv.org project that is developing the DVD API (Application Programming Interface). The DVD API interfaces with their DVD Card ( MPEG-2 Decoder) with Linux. This API also provides an interface with the Video for Linux 2 API. Developers are aiming for an API that will "be more flexible and extensible, and to support more kinds of devices" than the current Video For Linux API. This DVD Card is still in production.

Creative also sponsors Linux drivers for their dxr2 decoder card that are reputed to work well.

With the expansion of the major DVD projects, DVD compatibility is likely to increase exponentially in the close future, especially with all the movie-hungry Linux hackers out there.

I hope this article provided a good overview of the current status of DVD and Linux.
Please redirect any opinions, suggestions or complaints to marius@linux.com.





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