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Old 11-11-2009, 08:26 PM   #1
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A couple of General, Newbie Blu-ray Questions

I'm considering adding a Blu-ray burner to my Debian system, and am soliciting recommendations as to the make/model of the hardware, or the answers to the following questions:

1. Does the hardware, in fact, matter? I. e., I've googled and found some links that indicate the Blu-ray burner is handled just like any other DVD player. Is this true?

2. Will any burner be a multi-layer burner (50 GB instead of 25GB)? Is the number of layers just a function of the media you buy, or do you need to be careful in the purchase of the burner as well? I don't find this listed very much in the H/W specs.

3. Although primarily for backups and off-line storage, it would be really nice to be able to watch Blu-ray movies as well. Is this just a far-out dream, considering DRM, etc.?

Old 11-12-2009, 05:47 AM   #2
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As I don't own a BR drive in my computer, I cannot test, but I think

1) the hardware shouldn't matter, unless you buy it off an UFO; though it appears you need to have kernel support for the filesystem in order to use it, and the latest kernels should have it. At least this is what they say at Ubuntu. I would still expect some problems with BR discs, because even some DVDs cause trouble, even today with all the software available to get around encryptions.

2) For this I suppose either all BR drives would be able to do that (why would anybody want to make non dual layer burners, if dual layer discs have existed for so long already?) or the functionality is upgradeable as a firmware upgrade. Of course you can ask this from the store, and if they can't verify what the drive is able to do, they'll ask the importer or manufacturer.

3) See the Ubuntu page I linked to; it should be possible, though it looks tough at the moment. And like I said, expect problems, at least with some discs. I've never had trouble with DVD movies before, but a couple of days ago I met one that just didn't play no matter what..

All in all, I think it's more a matter of time than hardware to get it working. If you feel like buying a BR writer, why not, but personally I'd wait a little more for two reasons: 1) the prices are high still, but will be coming down as happens with all hardware at some point and 2) if you buy your drive now and it works as you wish at the hardware level, current software problems (namely encryption related) may hinder you for some time, and when you get over them, your drive is probably "old and slow".

Be careful with the specifications when checking out stores; if they don't mention something, you may well expect that to be really a missing feature rather than a forgotten spec. Since they aren't pocket money cadgets as of now, better ask the seller beforehand and make sure what you're buying. Good luck with your "project", I hope you'll get the data and movies working! I'd probably consider this myself, but for the reasons I mentioned above, I'll probably just wait.. (and my data still fits nicely in DVDs, so no need for BR discs)

EDIT: Here is another page that talks about blue-ray discs and Linux, see if it has any info for you.
Old 11-12-2009, 08:06 AM   #3
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Thanks! I had seen the first link (in fact it prompted question #3), but the second one is new. I'll go through it.

While I agree wholeheartedly with your advice regarding waiting (I usually buy stuff that's a generation old anyway, since it's usually half price and bug-free by then), in this case, I'll probably bite the bullet & get one if I can just convince myself I can get 50G of data on it because I'm over my DVD limit. Playing movies from Blu-ray does indeed look klunky, but that secondary to me (most of what I watch come from bit torrents, anyway).

Thanks for the info.

Old 12-15-2009, 07:04 PM   #4
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From what I saw off the shelf a few months ago at Fry's. Most seem to be 25G burners. Not many 50G discs (blank media) to be had either. Most of the ones I recall seeing were BD players and DVD DL burners. So they didn't even burn bluray for the most part.

I'm a bit curious about this myself. I've started shooting HD video and I've figured out most of the work flow to handle that for me. Needless to say that when your source files are 4GB, I'm in need of a at least a dual layer burner (DVD) to squeeze source + renders on ONE disc. Perhaps things are better now, but a lot of my DVD "burners" that came with budget desktops seem to only be able to burn DVDs 1 out of 3 units. That might just be a +R / -R issue for the hardware in question. But out of 5 desktops I've only had 2 that had decent (high success rate) burners(most burned CDs just fine though). Perhaps solved in more recent distros, but being on dialup, does not afford regular updates.

Also looking for a decent DVD "Dual" Layer burner. And if it can do bluray too, that's cool. Looking for something USB based so that I can make copies on location if need be. But not a deal breaker. Any recommendations? Brand / Model? $100 budget-ish, which seemed to be the going rate off the shelf. Something reliable, I'm venturing into event recording and seem to be doing a lot of burning lately. Most of my backups are HDDs though. 1TB for $100, plus a docking station. Kind of hard to beat. And a lot faster data transfers. But I need something client side.

Or should I just wait for USB3 to take hold and get something along those lines. Since bluray might be a bit overwhelming for USB2. I'd kind of prefer USB thumb drives or flash cards, but those don't seem to be coming down in prices as fast as one would have hoped. 8GB is still $20-ish. Not exactly "disposable" media IMO.
Old 12-19-2009, 10:33 AM   #5
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That's interesting. I usually keep my distros up to date, and haven't had any DVD burning problems for years, but I just use it for data, not for burning video DVDs. For on-site, portable high-capacity storage, from what I can tell you've hit on the right solution: USB drives. I have one that's a couple of years old, and my criteria on purchase was that it be the largest capacity USB drive that didn't require a separate power supply. It wound up being 250 (or maybe 260) gig; seems to me that for what you want it's perfect: easily portable, super high capacity relative to any removable optical medium. I was just looking for removable optical media that I could use for backups; I've since given up (probably temporarily, until dual sided burners and media are more common and cheaper). What I finally did for backup was just do two copies: one on another drive that's online in the same box as the Linux system and another onto said USB drive. With internal terabyte hard drives now down in the low $200 range, that makes a lot of sense.


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