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Raspberry Pi has H.264 licenses available. What does that mean though -- VLC claims to be able to play H.264 and VC-1 though, yet I see a lot of people advising against turning Raspberry Pi into a blueray player.

GPU decoding on GNU/Linux, using VAAPI for H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2

My question is just simply if I buy Raspberry Pi and an external USB Bluray drive should I expect that it will play back Blueray disks? Should the performance be reasonable? Will it play both H.264 and VC-1 disks? Are there any other types of disk such a configuration would not play?

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Regarding VLC playback, the current VLC needs to be re-compiled and the source slightly changed so that it uses the RPi GPU properly. Currently VLC tries to use the CPU to play the video, which plays the video back very slowly, if at all.

I haven't personally tried playing a Bluray disc, but it's my understanding that Linux cannot play Bluray discs (apparently something to do with the encryption).

The following thread might be of interest. Essentially. The Sony will have to give up their patent on Bluray in order for the encryption to work on Linux. I don't think Linux will ever (never say never) have Bluray disc support.

Also the following post a guy tests exactly what you want to do. Although this post says that once you removed the copy protection and copied that onto another disc, it played back Bluray fine (do note, without encryption though). The post says that it was not possible to play back the original Bluray disc.

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The Raspberry Pi, by default, only comes with a h264 license. However, you can acquire, as you said, licenses for MPEG2 (h262) and VC-1, which would enable hardware accelerated decoding for all BluRay codecs used.

Now, it depends on your player of choice what performance you can get out of it. I haven't tried it myself, but people have had good results with omxplayer. Keep in mind though that displaying the menus will be problematic without specialized software (omx is not), so your best bet is to manually selectnfiles.

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