A Note On Playing Back Commercially-Recorded Blu-rays

Just as it was with DVDs, when movies first started to be distributed in that format, commercially-recorded Blu-ray disks today use an encryption system, which is sometimes referred to as ‘content scrambling’, to prevent people from making unauthorized copies. It’s actually named ‘aacs’.

Experts already know about this, but I’m putting this in layman’s terms for anybody who might not.

Basically, Blu-ray playback-devices have a hidden store of public keys, which the users are not allowed to access, and this time, the company is able to update that store of keys via the Internet, because most Blu-ray players today are also online devices.

Unlike how it is with Blu-rays, the content-scrambling system of DVDs was famously hacked. This means that Linux computers are well-able to play back Movie-DVDs. OTOH, the ability to play back commercial Blu-rays, is mainly unsuccessful on Linux computers, or on any other unauthorized devices, because the content-scrambling which gets used – was never hacked. As long as the encryption continues to work, Linux users and pirates will not be able to play back or rip Blu-rays.

As it stands, the company is able to revoke public keys which it was once using.

This is a shame, because some Linux users might only be wanting to view Blu-ray movies which they purchased and paid for. But the main fear of the industry remains, that as a platform, a Linux computer is more susceptible to an unauthorized copy being made of anything, which that Linux computer would also be able to perform authorized playback of.

Therefore, when I gave instructions on how people can record Blu-rays privately, my assumption was that we would not be using any encryption. I don’t see encryption as being important in any way, for home-movies which people might shoot. But, the Blu-ray folder must nevertheless contain a sub-folder named ‘CERTIFICATES’. In the example I wrote about, this sub-folder will simply remain empty.

Further, the mere use of the Blu-ray (single-layer) disk, as a step-up from DVD+Rs, where a Blu-ray can store up to 25GB of pure data instead of 4.7GB, is unfettered for Linux users to use as they wish. All we need is an external Blu-ray burner, and we’re all set to burn pure data. But as soon as we want to burn something using ‘UDF’, which is the approved file-system of Blu-ray players, the level of difficulty already increases, even though no encryption has been used yet.

(Updated 09/19/2017 : )

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How To Burn Blu-ray Movies using Linux – via the GUI

One project which I had half-installed on my laptop named ‘Klystron’ some time ago, but which was not working, was software that would make the task straightforward to carry out, to burn Blu-ray movies from a Linux computer. Because I finally wanted to get that working, I spent time on this in-depth today.

One fact which many people understand, but few people know how to manage, is that Blu-ray movies are not supposed to be burned using the ISO9660 File-System, nor, with the .ISO-Files typically associated with that FS, that store its images. Technically, Blu-ray movies are supposed to be burned using a File-System called ‘UDF’, and version 2.50 of that preferably. Under certain circumstances, v2.01 of UDF may have to suffice, since Linux support for v2.50 is still lagging.

I will spare the reader a lengthy account of what did not work. In order for this to work, I needed to have the Debian Multimedia Repository installed in my /etc/apt/sources.list , which should be straightforward for other people to duplicate. And my main purpose in having this repository, was to get the package ‘tsmuxergui’, version 2.6.11 . In addition, I was working with ‘K3b’ , v2.0.2 .


‘tsmuxergui’ is a GUI-front-end for ‘tsMuxer’, which is a program that can be used to set up Chapters and other playback details, as well as the 1920×1080, H.264-compressed video files of course, that are supposed to make up the program on the final Blu-ray.


As my burner, I used the external ‘Pioneer BDR-XD05′, that connects via USB 3.

There is one additional component which I needed, before K3b was willing and able to burn the UDF File System required, which it is not able to do out-of-the-box:

An out-of-tree version of ‘cdrecord’ , v3.02a7

According to its authors, the versions of cdrecord that have been placed in the standard repositories belongs to ‘cdrkit’, not ‘cdrtools’, and cdrkit fails to provide the back-end, which K3b would need to burn UDF. Yet, to try to perform a binary install of the out-of-tree version, would have been very dangerous to my system. So what I did, and what I would urge other people to do, is to use one of the source-code (tarballs) from above.

First, if the reader has ‘wodim’ installed from the package-manager, I would recommend uninstalling that, just to make sure that package-version-binaries are not overwritten by the out-of-tree versions. Then, I used the above source-code, to custom-compile ‘cdrtools’.

The nice feature about this version, is that it does not even install itself to ‘/usr/local/bin’. Instead, it installs its binaries to ‘/opt/schily/bin’ , when we finally give the command ‘make install’ with root privileges, so that the ultimate risk of messing up the system is small.

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