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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
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Distribution: K/Ubuntu 12.04/14.04, Scientific Linux 6.3/6.4, Android-x86, Pretty much all distros at one point...
I'd recommend Xine as well. I use it on both my desktop and laptop machines. As long as you don't attempt to rip movies, you probably don't have anything to fear, legally, from using DeCSS (fair use and all),... of course that's not legal advice...
I mainly use Video Lan Client for DVD and PVR because I can broadcast to other computers on my network and I do not have to figure out what audio track that has 6 channels when playing DVD movies. I do not suggest using xine because it is a little rough to figure what look for. mplayer is very good if neither VLC, xine, or ogle can not play the movie.