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Shrinking DVDs with k9copy

If you want to burn a pre-recorded commercial DVD to a store-bought recordable blank DVD, you need to reduce the data in some way, because commercially bought DVDs hold 8GB, while blank DVDs hold 4GB. A neat program to do this in Linux is k9copy.

k9copy lets you first select only a subpart of the content of the DVD, for example only a few episodes of a series, or only one of several language tracks. It then shrinks the rest to fit on a 4GB DVD. Shrinking reduces image quality, so try to select as little of the content as possible to get a good shrink factor (shown on a nice sliding scale in k9copy). I use it to create an .iso image that I then burn to a disc using k3b, but if you have two DVD drives, it seems you can burn the data directly to another disc.

k9copy is straightforward and intuitive to use except for one minor hiccup. This is unfortunately the first step and might prevent you from getting started at all. Let’s assume your DVD drive holds a disc you want to shrink. You fire up k9copy. What you see is like the image below:

k9copy start window

Of course, you make sure that the correct DVD drive is selected in the drop down. But still you see nothing that shows the content of your DVD from which you can select titles or language tracks. The trick is that you have to click on the little “File open” icon in the upper left (or alternatively Ctrl-O, or go to File → Open in the menu). This loads your DVD and shows you a tree of (expandable) titles etc with checkboxes to select.

k9copy showing titles to select

The green-red sliding bar at the bottom will indicate the “Shrink Factor” so you can see by how much k9copy still has to compress the data with your current selection. Once you’re happy, select the appropiate output device from the dropdown, hit the “copy” icon (or Actions → Copy from the menu). k9copy will even show preview images of the content it is currently copying.

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