I Have Ripped All My DVD's to a Video Server

The first thing I do when I buy a DVD is rip it to my video server.  I have a 10TB RAID and I don't even try to compress the disks, just copy them over in video_ts format using DVDfab6.    I run SageTV on the server with the absolutely essential SageMC mod.  I then can watch the video at every TV that has a Sage HD200 box.  The whole system works for Bluray as well.

I built the system to try to duplicate a $60,000+ Kaleidoscape system for less than $2000, and the functionality, with some tweaking, comes pretty dang close.  The real work was the drudgery for ripping hundreds of DVD's, but I had already performed this death march with a much larger CD collection so I knew what I was getting into.   SageTV, by the way, is very rewarding if you want to get your hands dirty messing around in the innards but it is not for those who want plug and play.

Anyway, one of the reasons I did all this, beyond the coolness factor, was this.  I can rip just the main movie out of the DVD, leaving behind menus, trailers, FBI warmings, special features, etc.


  1. Dr. T:

    I don't have a raid set-up, but I rip some DVDs to my Mac. Sometimes I want more than the main feature but do not want the government warnings or the trailers. I can do a full rip and then use Toast to burn a DVD or make a DVD image that has only the items I want. I can also choose whether or not to have DVD menus, and I can choose a "theme" and tweak the menus. That can make it easier for kids who want a choice but not all the other commercial DVD crap (particularly on Disney movies).

  2. Bankerinrealife:

    Any recommendations for the media server itself? I've been thinking about moving my DVD collection to a server (music has already been ripped and the CDs traded in for more music). Your links to SageTV were very helpful. Thanks!

  3. perlhaqr:

    Yeah, hitting the "skip" or "menu" button and having the hardware I own tell me "no" pisses me off beyond all rational levels.

  4. Bob Smith:

    Coyote, are you transcoding your Blu-rays or dumping them raw to disc as you're doing with your DVDs?

    For a server I'd use Solaris 10 running a raidz3 for that much disc space. Serve media files via SMB/NFS over a wired gigabit ethernet. Get a low-power quad-core and plenty of ram. 1.5TB seems to be the sweet spot these days for hard discs, but 2TB is more compact, and cases for large disc arrays are, quite frankly, grossly overpriced.

    You can make some pretty nice DIY fanless head ends these days to run the UI and display the media. The SageTV boxes only support 100 megabit ethernet, which is marginal for Blu-rays. The iPod Touch makes a pretty nifty control device at your viewing chair.

  5. Vilmos:

    I also had a similar problem. I own a first generation eee netbook which is practically exclusively used by my four years old daughter. It has an open sdcard slot. She has a lot of dvds. Travel. I don't want to carry around dvds, and the eee doesn't even have a dvd player. Solution? I ripped all of her dvds to disk and added some extra info like which chapters are interesting, the name of the dvd, and a few more (crop, language). Then I wrote a shell script which I run in the given directory, and it will convert the given rip to a quarter of the eee's screen size. The resulting files are around 150-300MB. I can put all of her dvds on one single 32gb sdcard. Results. She has access to all her dvds. No trailers/warnings/etc. No carrying around a lot of dvds. She is happy on long drives. We are all happy. What not to like?


  6. Anna:

    - Intel Mac mini (or any old Mac).

    - Rip DVDs with MacTheRipper (free) or Ripit (~$18).

    - Transcode with Handbrake (free) to get H.264 video to import into iTunes.

    - Play movie with FrontRow (comes with Mac) or Apple TV.

    I have about 1 TB worth of movies, TV shows and music in my 1.5 TB server right now. A 2-hour movie is about 1.2 to 1.5 GB.

    I can access the Mac mini from any room with an Apple TV or another Mac via wifi. The Apple TV connects to plasma TV via HDMI. Can play 3 Apple TVs/computer combinations at the same time. We can also download/buy movies and TV shows from iTunes if we want to, when we want to.

    We're pretty happy with the set up. I just wish the Mac mini has HDMI. But connected to our plasma TV in the living room, which also allows me to watch Hulu and other websites, it works just fine.

    (I also have copies of all the DVDs as VIDEO_TS folders in an external drive. We don't really use them, but I figured since storage is cheap, I'll just keep them anyway.)

  7. Brad Warbiany:

    Good deal. I just recently did this with all my son's movies, because as a 2-year old, I got sick of him scratching the hell out of $20 movie after $20 movie. I've got my own NAS setup, and use a WD TV Live (full disclosure, I actually work for WD, but not in that department) for playback. I also keep an external USB drive loaded up with those movies in case we travel -- last weekend we went up to Lake Arrowhead, CA where my wife's family has a house with a nice TV but only basic cable. Having the ability to play back those movies on demand was very nice.

    I love having a nice player that doesn't have any buttons for him to push, any trays for him to open, and happens to have a nice HDMI output available for high-quality signal. And you're right, not having to go through menus and unskippable FBI warnings is a major bonus.

  8. Dave:

    I'm interested in doing something very similar - it would be very helpful if you could post a detailed breakdown of exactly what you use to build the whole system - I've been perusing the SageTV site but I'm still not sure exactly which components I need to get to be able to build a media center.