Ripping a CD or DVD is one of the most basic tasks for a PC user. But you need the right tools if you want to automate the process. Current ripping programs incorporate video encoding, tagging, and subtitles management. There's no single app that will do everything, so here are our picks for the best Linux apps for ripping audio CDs and video DVDs.
Before you can rip audio and video, there are a few things you will need. Audio encoding is fairly straightforward; there is no encryption to break but you will need the codec(s) that translate the source medium into the digital file format you want. For music, you will need a MP3 coder like LAME (or OGG Vorbis, if you prefer using that instead) for lossy audio and/or FLAC for lossless. For video file encoding, you will need libdvdcss2 to break the encryption on retail discs and a video codec like XVID or H.264 to reconvert the original MPEG2 DVD video format into a digital file. (the DVD audio track is handled by the same codecs used to rip music CDs)
Once you have acquired the codecs you need, you may have to tell some rippers where they are located. (although most rippers can find them automatically) Codecs usually take the form of programs that do the processing behind the scenes after the ripper program has done the actual extraction; once the raw data has been ripped, it is automatically piped into the encoder. Like most other programs, codecs are kept in /usr/bin. (e.g. /usr/bin/flac)
Acidrip is easily one of the best video rippers available for Linux and excels at creating digital files. As a frontend for Mplayer's Mencoder tool, Acidrip is able to rip and transcode to a variety of codecs (including XVID and H.264) and has support for other features like subtitles, audio boost, etc. You can even set the file size you want and Acidrip will try to match it. However, the file size may be smaller than the size you set with certain codecs, so you can often compensate for this by setting the max file size a little bit higher than you actually want it to be.
Acidrip is extremely easy to use and produces reliable results; by inserting a disc into the appropriate drive indicated in the program and then pressing the Load button, the video tracks will be shown and may be previewed to ensure that you are ripping the one you want. To rip a DVD title, you need only select the video and audio tracks you want, choose the video codec, bitrate, and the number of passes, and then click Queue. Acidrip lets you see what is going on behind the scenes by providing the actual Mencoder command based on your settings during the queue process. If you have more than one optical drive, you can load multiple discs and then batch-process them by queuing multiple jobs.
DVD::Rip is another full-featured tool like Acidrip. Like AcidRIP, it is ideal for ripping a disc to a video file and supports multiple codecs, even ones that Acidrip does not offer out of the box. (however, you may need to install some of them even though they already appear in the list) DVD::Rip's mode of operation is more complicated than Acidrip; whereas Acidrip allows you to pop in a disc and start the ripping process almost immediately, DVD::Rip forces you to create a separate project file for each project and it usually takes a few minutes to get everything configured properly. After that the disc must be ripped to your hard drive before processing can even begin. (you can choose to encode the disc on the fly, but the program claims that it creates undue wear and tear on your drive) All in all, the ripping process takes much longer than Acidrip does but the result is usually just as good.
Thoggen is one of the easiest DVD rippers that we have ever seen. All you need to do is insert a disc, open Thoggen, select the title(s) you want to encode, choose the quality, and you're good to go. Thoggen does sacrifice a lot of features to gain this type of simplicity; right now it can only rip to Ogg Theora. This codec can play in Videolan and other players, (since Theora is completely open source you don't need to worry about installing extra codec packs to make it work) but the output tends to be blockier than a decent Xvid rip unless you specify a larger video/file size. According to the developer, support for other codecs will be included in future releases of Theora.
Unlike many of the other DVD ripper tools we covered, K9copy allows you to make a copy of a DVD much like DVD Shrink on Windows. Although it can also rip to Xvid and other codecs like many of the other tools we have covered, the disc copy feature is what truly sets K9copy apart. Since dual-layer DVDs are still expensive, K9copy allows you to take a 7-8GB disc and compress it down to 4GB. This allows you to quickly and easily create working copies of your DVD collection so the original discs can stay in a pristine state. K9Copy does this task very well—the compressed copy will work in your standalone DVD player and is almost as good as the original. (you're only likely to notice a significant difference on a HDTV) While some other tools rip only the feature film, K9copy is able to replicate the original menus and preserve their functionality; virtually everything will work (chapters, languages, etc) if it was included in the rip.
Grip is one of the best CD rippers available for Linux. It offers a multi-tabbed interface that contains a wide variety of options and can fetch disc info from CDDB. The interface may look complicated and confusing at first, but is relatively straightforward once you get into it. GRIP has support for multiple codecs (MP3, FLAC, and OGG Vorbis) and can rip through Cdparanoia. (useful for ripping damaged discs)
Asunder is a nice simple ripper program that has an intuitive interface. It can fetch disc info from CDDB and then rip to WAV, MP3, OGG, FLAC, and Wavpack. A distinguishing feature is that it can rip and correctly assign ID3 tags for tracks from one disc with multiple artists.
Sound Juicer (also known as Audio CD Extractor) is the official GNOME CD extraction utility. It can rip to WAV, MP3, OGG, and FLAC through the Cdparanoia library. Sound Juicer also includes a simple built-in CD player that allows you to play tracks before you rip them.