A DVD Ripper Do-It-Yourself Part 1

by James R. Stoup Oct 12, 2008

I really like the Apple TV concept, but unfortunately it isn't exactly what I'm looking for in a media center right now. Before I go much further let me make something clear, this article isn't meant as a hit piece on the Apple TV. Though some of you may be a bit suspicious of my motives, what with this recent rampage I've been on about the many things I find wrong with Apple. But to repeat, I don't really have a big problem with the Apple TV. It is a nice product, it just isn't right for me.

Specifically, many of its features I either don't want or don't need. For my purposes I want a small computer, with lots of hard drive space, that can connect to my TV, then rip and play all of my DVDs. And I have a lot of DVDs. In fact, the tiny hard drive in the Apple TV wouldn't even remotely handle the job. I could have a remote storage device connected to my computer and remotely stream files, but that rapidly becomes more hassle and expense than I really want. Especially when you consider that I'm going to need somewhere in the range of 1-2 TB of storage. This leads me to consider a little something I like to call, Plan B.

In an ideal world, I would just stuff a Mac Pro full of hard drives, put a decent video card in it and be done with it. Sadly I find myself somewhat deficient of funds. So, Plan B is an exercise in determining how cheaply I could build an alternative to a more expensive Apple solution.

The first step is recognizing what I need. In no particular order here is what comes to mind.

  1. Computer (a desktop with at least 2 internal hard drive bays)
  2. Operating System (looks to be between Ununtu and Fedora)
  3. Video card (has to be capable of connecting to a TV via component video)
  4. Hard drives (two drives, minimum of 750 GB each)
  5. DVD Ripper (Linux compatible application for ripping DVDs)
  6. Media Player (Linux compatible media player for playing movie files)

And of course the biggest question is, how cheap can I do this?


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