Installing on Ubuntu

Software name : Handbrake
Homepage : http://handbrake.fr
Software version used for this installation : 0.9.3
Operating System use for this installation : Ubuntu 9.04
Recommended Hardware : 400 Mhz processor (CPU) minimum, internet connection

There is a trick to installing Handbrake on Ubuntu...Either you do it the hard way - using a terminal...or you do it the easy way - mostly within Firefox...we will do it the easy way.

Before you start you must check that you have sudo access. This means that you have to have the privileges to implement superuser or root actions. If you are working on your own computer then you will have this access. If you are working on a shared machine that someone else set up then you might not have this level of access and so you should ask the person that owns or administrates the computer to give you sudo access.

Download the File

This method uses the Firefox browser, so make sure you follow these setps using Firefox. Firefox is the default browser for Ubuntu. First we must download the binary - a 'binary' is another word for 'executable'. Both these terms are really another word for 'program' or 'software'.

For command line programs we usually refer to 'binaries' because it sounds geekier.

To download this binary visit the Handbrake download home page : http://handbrake.fr/?article=download

handbrake download page

Choose the "Command Line Interface (i386 Binary)" download link.


This will start the download process :


Just press 'OK' and the file file will download. If you want to change the download location for the files you need to do this through the preference settings in your browser.While it is downloading you will be presented with a nice progress bar :


If you can't find the window showing this information then look in the panel that shows all the different softwares that are currently open. By default this panel in Ubuntu is at the bottom of the screen. You are looking for the" Firefox Download Window" :


When you find this, click on it and the download window will appear.

Now the file has downloaded the progress bar will disappear :


Extract the File

You have downloaded the installer but it is in the form of an archive. An archive is a container of files that have been compressed to make the total file size smaller. Often files are compressed like this to ensure speedy downloading. We need to decompress the archive. Normally in Linux this is done using the 'terminal' - this is fast and efficient if you know how. If you don't know how then it can be confusing. So we will look at a far simpler way to do this which is just as quick.

To decompress the Handbrake installer you must only double-click on the file name displayed in the download window. The contents of the archive are then displayed :


The above window is actually an archive manager program that Ubuntu uses called File Roller. Firefox can automatically open File Roller like this when the downloaded file is a type of archive.

The list of folders and directories you will see displayed (in this case, just one file) is a list of items inside the archive. We still need to decompress the files we want. In this case we just want the one file displayed so we right-click on this flie :


Now choose the "Extract..." option and a file browser will appear :


Choose where you wish to extract the file - do tis by clicking on the folders in the file browser to find the location for the file and then press "Extract".

I have extracted my file to the Desktop. Now we need to copy this file to the place where all the binaries are stored on your operating system. To do this you must first open a terminal.

Starting a Terminal 

Now...starting a shell...what is a 'terminal' you might ask. Well, inorder to issue commands we have to use an application called a terminal. It can also be referred to as a 'shell' or simply a 'command line'. Ubuntu refers to it as a 'terminal' so we will stick to that terminology. The terminal is a very powerful application. From it you are pretty much master of the Linux Universe. Want to make a new folder? Its easy from tusing commands in the terminal...want to whipe out your entire Operating System?...no problems, one short command will do it (but for your own safety  I aren't going to tell you which).

You can just about do anything with a terminal and a few commands.  Before you do that however you need to open the terminal. Assuming you have the standard Ubuntu installed you will see at the top of the screen there is a navigation bar with a menu including three items: 'Applications'. Places', and 'System' :


Now click on  'Applications', then slide across to 'Accessories', and then 'Terminal':


Now we are cooking. The terminal should pop up:


Yours may look a little different. Don't worry, as long as it almost looks the same you are ok. Now,  you are located in your 'home' directory. When you start a terminal it is always in the home directory. By this I mean that any command you will now issue will be enacted 'from' the home directory. Don't dwell on this too much, if you don't understand it then the understanding will come after using the terminal a little.

Copy Binary to Bin

All binary files are stored in one of two places : the 'bin directory and the 'sbin' directory. The later is for storing binaries that are used by the root user (also know as the superuser). We wish to use the 'bin' directory.

With the terminal you have to change directories to the location of the Handbrake binary. For this we use the cd command. I already know that Handbrake has been extracted to the Desktop, and my terminal opened immediately in my home directory. So I only need to type the following :

cd Desktop

This will take me to the location of the Handbrake binary. I could also have used a fullpath to my Desktop which would mean typing the following :

cd /home/adam/Desktop

You must work through the possiblities of finding the binary on your computer. You may wish to read more about the Linux file system and the cd command to be able to do this.

I am now 'in the Desktop' and I can copy Hanbrake to the 'bin' directory with a simple command. I will use the cp command. This is used to copy any file or files from one place to another.  The binary is called 'HandBrakeCLI' and I must copy it to '/usr/bin' so the command I use is this:

cp HandBrakeCLI /usr/bin

Except...a normal user can not copy files to the 'bin' directory. So you must use the sudo command. A 'sudo' commad can preceed any other command and it merely means 'execute this action as the superuser'. Superuers can copy files to 'bin', so we type this in the terminal :

sudo cp HandBrakeCLI /usr/bin

You will then be asked for a password. Type in your own user account password (the password you used to log in) and press return. If you have the correct rights to execute commands as sudo the file will be copied to bin. If you do not have the right access priviledges you need to ask your local Ubuntu guru how to get them.

To test if Handbrake now works type this in the terminal :

HandBrakeCLI --help

You should see a whole lot of information appear telling you how to use Handbrake on the command line.