Install ‘HandBrake’ (video transcoder) on Ubuntu 12.10 & 12.04

‘HandBrake’, in my humble opinion, is one of the best video transcoders available for GNU/Linux users. It also supports Windows and Mac OS X, is multithreaded, supports any multimedia format that is supported by ‘ffmpeg’, extremely easy to use, completely free and is GNU GPL licensed.

DVDs are still quite heavily used and it is one of the reasons that I came across ‘HandBrake’ few years ago, while trying to find a ‘DVD ripping’ (the act of re-encoding a DVD video into a different video format for reducing the file size, without loosing much of the quality. This however, in some countries, is strictly prohibited, even if you ‘own’ the DVD!) tool.

Again, it is a multipurpose video transcoder, not just a DVD ripper. Anyhow, as most are aware of, while converting a multimedia file into a different format, there are few things that can help massively while attaining a high quality output for a smaller file size.


Reducing the resolution, cropping the black regions, applying an optimal ‘bitrate’ (for both audio and video) and adding a few video ‘filters’ for enhancing the output file’s quality, again while keeping its size to a minimum. But the thing is, there aren’t that many that let you adjust all these kinds of settings, but ‘HandBrake’ does it with ease!.

It however, won’t give you like a huge number of codes to choose from (specially video codecs, as it has an excellent audio codec support), but its defining characteristic is its ability to let one ‘fine tune’ a lot of very important settings, as mentioned above.

Below is a small list of its features …

*. Video codecs supported: H.264 (optimized for high resolutions), MPEG4 (optimized for lower resolutions), MPEG2 (default codec used in DVD videos) and Theora (completely open-source video codec, competing with the proprietary MPEG4 codec).

*. Audio codecs supported: MP3, OGG Vorbis, AAC (with few variations), AC3, DTS, DTS-HD and FLAC.

*. Output formats supported: MKV & MP4.

*. Add/Remove subtitles into the container format.

*. Excellent DVD ripping support.

*. Change the audio/video bitrate or set the ‘QP’ (‘Quantization Parameter’, which once chosen passes various quality settings to the video encoder, sort of like a ‘preset’), ‘two-pass’ video encoding (disabled by default), change framerate, audio volume gaining and more.

*. As mentioned above, it has a dedicated window that lets you crop, resize, change the aspect ratio, apply various video filters and whenever you make a change, it also shows those changes on a video preview window as well.

Note: Again, unlike many other tools, whenever you resize a video, say that you changed the ‘Height’, then ‘HandBrake’ also adjusts the ‘Width’ automatically, thus preserving the correct aspect ratio (can be disabled).


*. Queue support.

*. Multithreaded (if you have a multi-core processor, then it will use more than one core while encoding thus speeding up the process).

*. Has built in ‘Presets’ (for devices such as Apple iPad, iPod, iPod touch, Apple TV, Android etc).

Before you fall into sleep, let me tell you how to install it on Ubuntu :D.

‘HandBrake’ has a PPA, therefore, you can install it on Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal, 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 (forgot what it was called :P), 11.04, 10.10 by using the below commands.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk

That’s it. Now you should be able to open it through ‘Dash’.

Enabling Encrypted DVD ripping …

As you know, almost all the commercial DVDs come with a weak encryption called ‘CSS’, and by default, ‘HandBrake’ does not support reading those. However, that can easily be added on Ubuntu by entering the below commands (make sure to exit ‘HandBrake’ before executing these commands).

sudo apt-get install libdvdnav4

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/

Now you should be able to use ‘HandBrake’ with encrypted DVDs too.

If you want to get more information, then please visit this ‘HandBrake’ home page.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

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