How to Play Blu-Ray on Linux

Play Blu Ray On Linux

Blu-ray has been out for a long time now, so it seems crazy that there still isn’t a clear-cut way to play them in Linux. That’s mostly because Blu-ray is loaded with DRM that Hollywood doesn’t want open-source programs to be able to get past. Unfortunately, this means that completely legitimate video players are robbed of the capability in yet another instance of DRM hurting users instead of pirates.

With all of that aside, there is an excellent program that is available for Linux that can read Blu-ray disks. It’s called MakeMKV, and it’s partially open source. That’s a big part of the reason you probably haven’t come across it in your distribution’s repositories. The closed source part handles reading Blu-ray, while the rest of it is open, striking an unusual balance for this particular task. MakeMKV is available for free. Its Linux version is in a constant beta, so it’s not officially supported, but it does work.

MakeMKV isn’t a video player, though. It just reads them. It can, however, convert what it has read into a stream that you can pick up with a video player like Kodi that can play streaming content.

Install the Packages

Before you get started building, yes building, MakeMKV, there are some required packages for you to install. You’ll need VLC, too, because you’re going to use that to play your video later on.

Do note that the following instructions are done on Ubuntu.

Open a terminal window and use apt to get the following packages:

Download MakeMKV

MakeMKV’s latest releases are posted on this unassuming forum post along with some of the instructions outlined here. It’s important to always have the latest release of MakeMKV to be able to play any Blu-ray that you need. That’s why that post is actually the best place to download it from.

Create a directory where you want to build MakeMKV. You’ll be downloading and unpacking each of the source tarballs into it.

Download both tarball files from the post and place them in your build directory. You can use a GUI archive manager or tar. It doesn’t really matter which.

Build and Install MakeMKV

Change directories into the “oss” directory that you unpacked. It contains all of the open source code for MakeMKV.

Now, use the provided configuration script and GNU make to build MakeMKV.

Replace the number after -j with the amount of CPU cores on your system plus one.

It will take a few minutes to finish. Afterward, that part of the program will be ready for you to install as root or with sudo.

Move back up and into the “bin” directory to install the closed source part. This one is very simple.

It won’t take long. When it’s finished, MakeMKV will be completely installed.

Enter Your Beta Key

Start Up MakeMKV

Through the install, you’ll have an option to launch MakeMKV through your distribution’s application launcher. Go ahead and do that.

The window that you’ll see is fairly plain, and it doesn’t contain much until you load in a Blu-ray. Before you can do anything, you need to enter the MakeMKV beta key. It’s somewhat of a formality because MakeMKV is always in beta, but you do need to enter a new key every so often.

You can always find the MakeMKV beta key here. Copy it after you find it.

In the MakeMKV window, click on “Help,” then click “Register” in the menu that drops down. A window will open for you to enter the beta key.

Load A Blu-ray

Load Blu Ray MakeMKV

Now you can find a Blu-ray to play and load it. MakeMKV will load it quickly, and you’ll see the disk drive image colorize. Click on it to load your disk.

MakeMKV will take a few minutes to read the disk. That’s normal – there’s a lot of data. When it finishes, you’ll see a breakdown of the files stored on the Blu-ray.

MakeMKV Blu Ray File Listing

It can be difficult to figure out which ones are which, but for movies, the largest file is usually the feature. TV shows are a little trickier, but you can look for a series of files that are nearly the same size. They’re usually the episodes.

To start your stream, click the streaming icon at the top of the window. It looks like a disk with a couple of lines radiating from it.

MakeMKV will open up the file and stream it. By default, it will use port 51000 on your computer.

Open the Stream in Kodi

It’s true that you can do this with VLC, too, but due to some weird library issues, Kodi is the much better option. MakeMKV creates a UPnP stream, which Kodi works very well with. Since it’s a local stream on your network, that means you can stream to another device in your home running Kodi.

Kodi Add MakeMKV Stream

Open up Kodi and go to the “Videos” section. Click on “Files,” then click “Add videos…” In the next window you need to click the “Browse” button. In the list to the left, find “UPnP devices.” Select your MakeMKV stream and browse to the file that you want to play. Click “Open” when you’ve found it. Don’t worry if it looks empty.

Kodi Select MakeMKV Source

You should see your stream in the file listing now. Click on it to open it. There will probably be a couple of files there with totally useless names. The right one will probably have a .m2ts file extension. Different Blu-rays may use different conventions, so there might be some trial and error involved. When you find the right file and click it, your stream will open and play your video.

Kodi Playing MakeMKV Stream

Closing Thoughts

Obviously, this solution is a little clunky. Unfortunately, Blu-ray’s DRM means that things probably aren’t going to change any time soon. This method can also be considered breaking that DRM, which is sort of a legal gray area, depending on where you live, so be mindful of that, too. Certainly, no matter where you are, only use these tools for your own personal viewing. Duplication and/or distribution of Blu-ray content is definitely illegal.

With that out of the way, enjoy your Blu-ray content on Linux, stream it to your Raspberry Pi, and get the most out of your media.

Nick Congleton Nick Congleton

Nick is a freelance tech. journalist, Linux enthusiast, and a long time PC gamer.


  1. Technically, duplication is only illegal if it’s with intent to distribute. That is, if you rip your Blu-Ray to a file and put the Blu-Ray away and watch the file instead, that’s legal. If you rip your Blu-Ray to a file and you post the file on a torrent site, that’s illegal.

    Of course the DMCA muddies the waters, but if it’s illegal to defeat the copy protection because of the DMCA, then it’s illegal to defeat it even if you’re only doing so to watch it, as described in the article. However, I was under the impression that MakeMKV had an agreement that made their software a recognized device and thus not illegal to use under the DMCA.

    1. Technically, you’re wrong, well at least in good ole USA.

      While you point out correctly, that at the very least you commit a federal crime when you decrypt for playback, you do not understand that there are licensed correct decrypting devices (obscuring software) that is legal. The problem is, you will not see these on anything that might allow any kind of circumvention, and Linux is considered to be too easy in that regard.

      Outside of DMCA, you are incorrect to assume that you can make even a backup copy. While the treasury department opinion (based on the direction of wind) currently allows this for specific types, you should not assume that what is allowed for a CD automatically transfers to any media type. Unfortunately it doesn’t. With that said, it’s probable that a court (if any of this nonsense went to court) would have difficultly putting someone in prison for making “ripped” copies of things for which they owned physical originals (possibly even decrypted in violation of DMCA even). But you know… you never know…

      In short, the statement, “duplication is only illegal if it’s with intent to distribute” is false. My mind says “no way”, but this is the USA where law and sanity are often on opposite sides.

      My guess is that MakeMKV operates illegally (I’d say I’m 99.9999% sure) Why? Because it strips the encryption (I know, I know… we know what that means with regards to “legal” playback devices… and we know that all 4K “rips” are high quality frame grabs (which is difficult to try to enclose in DMCA)…etc).

      1. I’m talking about the US. However, case law has established that purely for personal use it is legal to make a copy of any copyrighted material for which you might have some reason to do so. This is generally considered to be covered under the fair use section of Title 17. If no one is using the copy apart from the owner of the original copy (or a member of his household, or people with him or a member of his household that do not constitute public performance, which would be a violation even with the original copy), then there is no violation of copyright. This is why if you have a CD you can legally rip it to mp3 files for use on your own player, and there is commercial software that does this. Of course if you post those files on line, then you are violating copyright.

        It’s true that this provision is not specifically spelled out in Title 17, but generally it has been established that if this is not fair use, nothing is, since only the owner of the original copy is involved.

        I do understand very well that there are licensed decrypting devices. If I didn’t understand that, I would have no basis for stating that I had been under the impression that MakeMKV was one of them. It is quite obvious, as well, that MakeMKV can be used as a circumvention device on any platform, so it being available for Linux does not come into play. A little bit of research, however, seems to show that GuinpinSoft is based in Russia, and it is perhaps for this reason rather than that they have a license agreement that the MPAA has not been able to do anything about it.

        Of course there are factors which argue against this, such as the fact that the arrangement for issuing and retracting keys on Blu-Rays hasn’t seemed to have any effect on their software. This is not the case for other software that decrypts Blu-Rays on Linux, which tends not to work on newer movies. Another factor would be the fact that no attempt to block their Web site seems to have been made. It has been operating in the same location, easily findable with search engines, and taking money for licenses if someone cared to purchase it for years.

  2. Playing Blu-Ray disks can be enjoyed in Linux without using any proprietary beta software such as MakeMKV. Assuming that you have a Blu-Ray disk drive in your computer, use the following four commands:

    sudo apt-get -y install vlc libaacs0 libbluray-bdj libbluray1
    mkdir -p ~/.config/aacs/
    cd ~/.config/aacs/

    or use my script, BleedingEdge – currently supporting Mint 18.2, located here:

    After installation, simply play the disks using VLC.

Comments are closed.