Like everybody I get stressed out because of my inability to play movies I purchased as a DVD on portable media players, computers without DVD drives, etc. I'm an open source nut so I don't want to pay for $50 software that doesn't work that great. Luckily I found out how to rip DVDs to many popular formats using my favorite media player, VLC, and I'm here to show you how.
Step 1: Getting VLC
Ok, as always, the first step is to get the software. If you already have VLC you can skip this step, but if you don't you can download it herehere. It's available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and BeOS.
Step 2: First Step
Ok, I know that most people know to open the program first, but if you don't, open the program. unless you have some problem with your installation or your OS it should look like this (see below image). Insert the DVD you want to rip.
Step 3: Second Step
Ok click the "File" drop-down menu and click Open disk. Select "DVD", make sure the "DVD menue" box isn't checked. You might want to click ok and see if the main movie plays. If it doesn't change the value for "Title" to 1, if that doesn't bring up the main movie, try 2, and so on. You can also change the value for "Audio track" if you don't want to play the English or whatever the default language of the disk is, and the value for "Subtitles track" if you want English or another language subtitles. Click the "Stream/Save" box then click the "Settings" button.
Step 4: Third Step
Check the "File" box under Outputs. Don't check the "Play locally" box unless you want to watch the movie as you are ripping it. Now select the encapsulation method. I would recommend ether MPEG1 or MP4 (if you want to put it on a device you have to use MP4 and with iTunes you have to use MOV.) Now select your video codec (I'd recommend Divx which is DIV1, DIV2, or DIV3 or MPEG which is mp1v, mp2v, or mp4v (if you want to use it on an iPod and/or with iTunes you have to use mp4v). Select your audio codec, you should always use MP3 unless what you want to use to play it requires another codec.
Update: I was wrong, if you want to use the file with itunes/ipod you need to save it as an mp4 with mp4v video and mp4a audio, not mp3 (that's just what I like to use since i don't use itunes for video).
Step 5: Fourth Step
Now, next to the "File" box there is a button that says "Browse". Click that. Select the file you want to save to then under file name type any name followed by the file extension for the encapsulation method you selected (if you you selected MPEG TS, PS, or 1 type .mpg at the end of the file name, if you selected Ogg type .ogg, ASF type .asf, and so on but don't type any file extention if you selected RAW). Hit "Save" then "Ok".
Step 6: Fifth Step
Hit "Ok" and the transcoding will start. If everything is setup right it should look like this (it'll be playing the movie if you selected "Play locally"). The only problem is that it only rips at x1 so if you have a 2 hour movie it will take 2 hours to rip. Once it's done you can play it on any media player or device that supports that file type.
Step 7: Sixth Step
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the movie.
Step 8: Disclaimer
I am in no way to be held responsible if this information is used for illegal purposes. I am entitled by the law and my lawyer to say that this Instructable is for informational purposes only.
Also: since posting this I have tried several other methods of ripping including both free and commercial software. This method by far works the best. If you want to have your movies in another format just run the file through your favorite conversion software.