Handbrake, VLC and 64 bit problems

Recently, the latest version of the DVD converter Handbrake (version 0.94) was released and it added so many great features, including a performance-boosting 64-bit version. Overall, it has been getting rave reviews from the Mac press and deservedly so. However, there is an unfortunate problem that makes ripping DVDs tricky: it requires a 64-bit version of VLC to be installed, and currently VLC is 32-bit only.

So, how do we get around this problem?
Firstly, let’s clarify why this problem arises. VLC contains libdvdcss, a CSS library that allows protected DVDs to be read. Handbrake, rather than containing its own version of libdvdcss requires you to have VLC installed instead. This is a great solution and allows Handbrake to avoid a few legal issues. The problem with this arrangement is that you need both applications to be compiled for the same CPU. 64-bit Handbrake requires a 64-bit VLC with a 64-bit libdvdcss inside, and the latest version of VLC, 1.0.3, is 32-bit only. Libdvdcss is also 32-bit only as can be seen here.

jearle@blackbook# file /Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib
/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib: Mach-O universal binary with 2 architectures
/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib (for architecture i386): Mach-O dynamically linked shared library i386
/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib (for architecture ppc7400): Mach-O dynamically linked shared library ppc

i386 means 32-bit, so we’re scuppered and Handbrake won’t work in 64-bit. However, there is another way. There is an application called Fairmount that mounts protected DVDs as unprotected disks and the latest version comes in 32- and 64-bit versions. It too uses VLC for libdvdcss, so you’ll need to run the 32-bit version of Fairmount to get it to work.


Launch the 32-bit version and it will mount the DVD and Handbrake will see it as an unprotected DVD and let you convert your disk to let you play it on whatever devices you want.


Gojira! I’ll be watching a 1954 nuclear experiment metaphor movie on my iPhone in no time flat.

Update: Yes, I am aware you could just grab the 64-bit 1.0.2 version of VLC, but it’s apparently buggy.

Jared Earle is a writer, photographer and systems administrator. You can find him on Twitter most of the time.