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CDs and DVDs remain common types of removable media. Unlike other types of removable media (such as flash drives or external hard drives), the logical formats of CDs and DVDs typically differ greatly from "normal" filesystems. CDs and DVDs are both optical discs, so we can use that term to refer to both collectively.

Your PC will require one or more devices to interface between your CPU and your optical disc(s). Such devices are typically called drives, players, or readers, and are generally detected as /dev/sr*, where * is a number starting at 0. (Thus your first drive will be /dev/sr0, second /dev/sr1, etc.) Symlinks such as /dev/cdrom, /dev/cdrw, /dev/dvd, or /dev/dvdrw (pointing to /dev/sr0) may also be created depending on your OS version and the detected capabilities of your device.


You can use many video players on Debian to read video DVDs, including Xine (or players with a Xine backend, such as totem-xine) or MPlayer. Since most DVDs are protected by CSS (Content Scramble System) you will require the installation of libdvdread4:

# apt-get install libdvdread4


libdvdcss is required for the decryption of CSS protected-DVDs. This cannot be obtained from the Debian repositories due to licence restrictions in various countries. Please also read the /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/README.css file.

There are various sources for libdvdcss2:

  1. as deb directly from the project's homepage videolan: see

  2. compiled from source from videolan

    • Read the file INSTALL and follow the instructions, e.g.
          ./configure --prefix=/usr
          sudo make install
  3. from the unofficial repository

setting the region

Some DVD players require the region to be set before they are able to play encrypted DVDs. This has to be done manually with regionset. The man-pages provide help in choosing the proper country-code.



<!> Beware! Much of this is old information. In the age of devfs and udev (or kernel version 2.6), you may not even have an (eg.) /dev/hdc if your drive isn't in the machine when you boot. As of Sarge, they're intended to be used as so:

(1) infidel /home/keeling_ ls -al /media
total 4
drwxr-xr-x   4 root root 1024 2005-11-08 15:49 .
drwxr-xr-x  23 root root 1024 2005-11-03 19:24 ..
lrwxrwxrwx   1 root root    6 2005-11-03 18:12 cdrom -> cdrom0
drwxr-xr-x   2 root root 1024 2005-11-03 18:12 cdrom0
lrwxrwxrwx   1 root root    6 2005-11-08 15:49 cdrom1 -> cdrom0
lrwxrwxrwx   1 root root    7 2005-11-03 18:12 floppy -> floppy0
drwxr-xr-x   2 root root 1024 2005-11-03 18:12 floppy0

Furthermore, use of SCSI emulation drivers for ATAPI interfaces is deprecated. Instead, you can (and should) use the correct device name directly:

wodim speed=8 dev=/dev/hdc -eject -tao -data /scratch/iso/track_01.img

Detecting and mounting

Use to detect your CD/DVD units:

wodim -scanbus

To check which special file /dev/cdrom is a symlink to (i.e. /dev/sr0, /dev/hdc or /dev/scd0), type:

ls -al /dev/cdrom*

Users need to be members of the "cdrom" group to use an optical device on Debian.

You can allow any user mount cdrom adding to fstab:

/dev/cdrom /mnt/auto/cdrom iso9660 noauto,users,ro 0 0

You can see if fstab points to the right device typing:

dmesg | grep ATAPI


To almost quote Wikipedia, ripping is the process of copying input audio or video content (typically from an optical disc) and outputting to a "normal" storage filesystems. Ripping is typically more difficult than simple file copying (as when copying files from a flash drive or external hard drive in that

This involves at least 3 separate problems (discussed in more detail here):


4GB per File limitation

Writing file larger than 4GB on an iso-9660 dvd is tricky (read wikipedia). The easiest way might be to use UDF.

Converting DVD

See also