makemkv: Backup Blu-ray discs

I still like to use Blu-ray discs to watch movies.

Sometimes I want to watch them over the network though, and therefore I need to rip them from disc to put them on a hard-drive.

I stumbled across makemkv and a Docker image on github.

Since I prefer CLI usage over GUI, I also looked up this Docker image, which provides only the CLI part named makemkvcon.

1. Installation

First thing I noticed: I need a license key. Luckily, it is freely available while the software is still beta.

Next thing: I need to pass the device to the software. For some reason, you need to pass two devices: /dev/sr0 and /dev/sg0 (on my machine, your numbers might be different). And I had the /dev/sr0, but /dev/sg0 was missing.

After some googling, I found that sudo modprobe sg solved it, and the device appeared. To have the module loaded at every boot, you can also do this:

echo sg > /etc/modules-load.d/sg.conf

2. Disable Auto-Update, settings.conf

There is a file settings.conf with various settings, but barely documented.

The software greets me with this message:

Automatic checking for updates is enabled, you may disable it in preferences if you don't want MakeMKV to contact web server.

..but I couldn't find a CLI flag to disable it.

I searched for a flag for the settings.conf to disable it, but didn't find it.

Eventually I used the GUI to disable the checkbox, and checked the settings.conf afterwards. And voilá, a key app_UpdateEnable was written in the file.

There was a request for documentation in the forum, but it's an old thread and the auto update wasn't mentioned there. After knowing the key, I found this post.

3. My drive

I own a techPulse 120 drive.

makemkv told me the drive was detected as:


which luckily is a very common model.

4. Rip the disc

To just rip the whole disc, run this command:

docker run -it --rm -e "APP_KEY=<secret key>" --device /dev/sr0 --device /dev/sg0 -v (pwd):/output lasley/makemkvcon:1.14.5 makemkvcon mkv disc:0 all /output

In general, I didn't find much documentation about the CLI commands.

I found this great gist and a lot of commands in the forum, but it required some searching to find the commands I need.

5. Corrupt or invalid at offset

I got presented a lot of errors, and I heard the drive slowed down a lot of times. See this thread.

The most named reason was a dirty disc or drive, so I cleaned both. It didn't help.

6. Flashing a new firmware

The next thing was an updated firmware. Not only does it unlock all region codes, but it also enables something called LibreDrive, which (from what I understand) grants makemkv more direct access to the hardware.

Before flashing the firmware, I saw this log message:

LibreDrive firmware support is not yet available for this drive (id=5B235XXXXFC2)

I was a bit scared to flash the firmware, because when I bought the model I remember there were like seven variations of the drive (with/without 4K support, with/without M-Disc write support and some more). So I feared to lose like the M-Disc support by flashing a wrong firmware variant.

Luckily it worked without major damage.

The commands I ran were:

$ ./makemkvcon f -l
Found 1 drives(s)
00: dev_21:0, /dev/sr0, /dev/sr0

$ ./makemkvcon f -v -v -v -d /dev/sr0 -f ./sdf.bin rawflash main -i ./HL-DT-ST-BD-RE_BU40N-1.03-NM00000-211810241934.bin

And it worked! On the next connection, my drive was detected with the updated firmware.

7. Docker, VirtualBox

However, the flashed firmware didn't solve the problem of the corrupt sectors. So I tried a Windows VM in VirtualBox, passed the USB connection over and tried there. First it looked and sounded a bit better, but after some time the same errors occured.

8. Windows...and success!

So my last resort was to use another PC. This time my gaming PC, with a Windows running directly without virtualization.

And what can I say...first try and the backup worked immediately.

I'm not sure what the problem was. :( I could only guess. But I'm happy it works now.