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5. Playing DVDs with xine

DVD support in xine is a little complex due to the uncertain legal situation regarding software capable of decoding DVDs encrypted with the Content Scrambling System (CSS). If you wish to just watch un-encrypted DVDs with no support for menus, title selection or multiple-angles, the bundled xine DVD plugin will suffice. In general, however, most DVDs are encrypted and most people want support for the more advanced features.

5.1 DVD terminology

Since DVDs are a complex subject, people often get confused with terminology and myths surrounding them. The following is a brief primer on the important aspects of DVD technology. It is included here since they are often the source of common mistakes.

5.2 Preparing your system to watch DVDs

DVD plugins expect to find your DVD device at /dev/dvd although most allow this to be specified within the MRL and/or from the xine configuration dialogue box. In the interests of simplicity you may wish to symlink your DVD device to /dev/dvd. For example, suppose your DVD drive was /dev/hdc, you could create the symlink via:

  $ ln -s /dev/hdc /dev/dvd

If you are using DevFS the procedure is more complex, however since you are using DevFS I assume you have read the devfsd manpage ;-).

Many people also forget to give themselves read access to the DVD device (and find that they can only watch DVDs as root).

5.3 `Alternate' DVD plugins

Disclosure: The main author of this HOWTO also authored parts of the DVDNAV plugin.

Due to the limitations of the default xine DVD plugin, a number of people have attempted to create better plugins for separate distribution. There are three popular DVD plugins available for xine.

The DVDNAV plugin

This is probably one of the more ambitious plugins for xine. Its ultimate aim is complete support for all DVD features (including interactive menus, multiple angles, etc.). Initial versions have been available for some time but once the Ogle DVD player ( came to prominence, some of the original code was replaced with code from Ogle for which the original creators of Ogle deserve thanks.

Since the specifications for the special DVD features is not freely-accessible, the plugin has had to reverse-engineer some of the specifications so the DVDNAV plugin may be of questionable legality in those countries which take an overly dim view of reverse engineering.

The plugin may be obtained from It requires the following support libraries to be installed before the plugin. Links to them are available on the plugin's web-site above. They are:

This plugin is also available in the unstable branch of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and may be installed via the following commands:

  $ apt-get install xine-dvdnav

The Captain CSS plugin

One of the oldest plugins this supports CSS DVDs with no dependencies on external libraries. Recent versions of the plugin have also used some code from the DVDNAV plugin to support DVD special features.

The web-site for this plugin changes often and it is probably best to follow the link on the main xine web-site.

The DMD (Digital Movie Disc) plugin

A simple CSS-enabled plugin designed for viewing DVDs without any special features. It does, however, support multiple angles. It may be obtained from

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