Scratched DVD playback: Windows vs Linux

Submitted by dag on Thu, 2007/11/29 - 21:06

Few things are as frustrating as watching a DVD and suddenly the sound stops and the screen freezes. Well, the last few months we have been lucky in this area, but yesterday evening it was that time again.

VideoLAN on Windows yesterday skipped a lot of frames when I invoked it (no idea why?), so I went with PowerDVD to watch this rented DVD. We already watched two episodes of Desperate Housewives Season 3 disc 5 and suddenly playback froze.

Not only that, Windows hang as well. Killing PowerDVD worked after a few minutes, but even Windows itself had troubles recovering from what seemed to be a scratched DVD. I cleaned the disc and tried again. Same thing happened at approximately the same frame. VideoLAN still dropped frames, so was out of the question. But the whole Windows OS was choking on the DVD device again, the only way to eject the disc now was to turn off the hardware and powering on again to just eject the disc.

As I didn't want to give up (despite the sighs of my girlfriend who already considered going to bed...) I tried playing it with VideoLAN on Linux and guess what ? Around the same frame there were a few skipped frames. Sound also skipped a few times, but the playback continued without that much problems. It happened a few times at other regions on the disc after that, but no longer than a second.

Too be honest, in the past I have had troubles playing DVDs on Linux (and especially with recovering from scratched ones) and because of that I default to my girlfriend's Windows laptop when playing DVDs but apparently we have come a long way with DVD playback and error recovery. Nowadays we also do much better than Windows in this area!

vlc in general

I have been using VLC exclusively as my player for video content for about three years now - and this on both Windows and Linux workstations. It's true that the DVD playback used to be a little sketchy under Linux, but these days - especially with the nightmare that is media playback on Vista - i couldn't imagine building a media box that wasn't based on Linux!

VLC bombs out on my scratched DVD

Something is different here - on my system, both kaffeine and VLC can play the video around the scratch, but cannot gracefully handle the scratch itself. VLC closes the video without comment, and kaffeine pops up an obnoxious error message box - and closes the session, so that it is rather hard to recover manually.