Monthly Archives: July 2009

DVD Playback in Arch Linux

I find that I run into this problem everytime I reinstall Arch, so I figured it was time to document those pesky missing peices. Considering Arch Linux is more of a “do-it-yourself” distribution there are more peices to the puzzle than you might find in Ubuntu or similar. In this short article I’ll outline everything required to playback DVDs on Arch Linux.

Required Packages

As is the problem with any major Linux distribution, DVD playback can’t be enabled by default for “potential patent issues“. The required packages have to be installed manually. This is done using the command:

sudo pacman -S libdvdcss libdvdread

Required Groups

In order to have required access to the audio, video and optical devices the user needs to be in the required groups. You can ensure your user is in the required groups for DVD playback with the command:

sudo gpasswd -a username audio,video,optical

You’ll have to logout and back in again for the group changes to take effect. After that you should be able to play DVDs as expected.

Media Application

My preferred application for playing back media, including DVD, .avi and general audio, is VLC. VLC works on each major platform and generally does not required extra codecs. You can install VLC using the command:

sudo pacman -S vlc


Arch Linux requires a little more work to get things going, but the reward for the granular control is nice. Your machine is never exactly like any other machine–each Arch Linux users installation is different. Enabling DVD playback takes this same amount of granular configuration, but following the required steps makes the process simple.

Configure FreeBSD To Use Blowfish Password Format

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately researching FreeBSD security solutions. Topics such as pf (packet filter), system hardening, etc. One of the tips that I thought I’d share here is a method of configuring your system to use blowfish encryption for passwords as opposed to the default MD5. If you are on a system that has a lot of users it might be prudent to update the encryption type to make your stored passphrase safer.

Configure /etc/login.conf

The password format is stored within the /etc/login.conf file. The default value being “md5”. To update your configuration to use blowfish instead make the following change to your file:

–       :passwd_format=md5:\

+       :passwd_format=blf:\

After you’ve made this change you’ll need to rehash the login database, which is done using the cap_mkdb command:

cap_mkdb /etc/login.conf

At this point any newly assigned passwords will be created using blowfish instead of MD5. Any existing accounts will retain their MD5 password hash until the password is reset.

pf (packet filter) Documentation

I’m looking for some good pf (packet-filter) documentation if anyone has anything to suggest. I’ve added a second FreeBSD machine to my public-facing network, and may be adding a third soon. I want to make sure that my firewall is setup properly but I’m not very familiar with pf. Can anyone suggest a book, online document, etc that has good examples for setting up pf?

Upcoming in FreeBSD 8.x

A friend of mine shot me this article today (What’s cooking for FreeBSD 8?), which is a pretty detailed outline of the things coming up for FreeBSD 8. I have to say, some of the things have got be excited! Some of the highlights that I want to see:

There is actually quite a bit more, but those are the immediate ones that look like they’d noticeably affect me. I’d really love to have FreeBSD setup on a VPS via Xen, with Jails for each of my services. Currently I have that setup at home (jails), but its on old hardware that takes forever to compile. Parallel Ports Build would sure be a nice improvement, assuming the hardware can handle it (which my current hardware cannot).

To any of you other FreeBSD users out there, what are you excited for in the list and why?