Linux CDR Tools

The Linux CD-R-creation process involves three steps:

1. Collect source files. You must first collect source files in one location, typically a single subdirectory of your home directory.

2. Create a filesystem. You point a filesystem-creation program, mkisofs, at your source directory. This program generates an ISO-9660 filesystem in an image file. Alternatively, you can create another filesystem in an appropriately sized partition or image file and copy files to that partition or image file. This latter approach can be used to create ext2fs, FAT, or other types of CD-Rs, but there's seldom any advantage to doing this.

Tip If you install an OS to a partition that's less than 700MB in size, you can back it up by burning the partition directly to CD-R. The result is a CD-R

that uses the OS's native filesystem. You can restore the backup by using dd, assuming the target partition is exactly the same size as the original.

3. Burn the CD-R. You use a CD-R burning program, such as cdrecord, to copy the CD-R image file to the CD-R device.

The traditional three-step approach to CD-R creation is a bit on the tedious side. One way to minimize this tedium is to use GUI front-ends to mkisofs and cdrecord. These GUI tools provide a point-and-click interface, eliminating the need to remember obscure command-line parameters. Popular GUI Linux CD-R tools include:

X-CD-Roast This program, headquartered at http://www.xcdroast.org, was one of the first GUI front-ends to mkisofs and cdrecord, although the latest versions are substantially improved over earlier versions.

ECLiPt Roaster This program, which is also known as ERoaster, is part of the ECLiPt project (http://eclipt.uni-klu.ac.at), which aims to support various Linux tools and protocols, frequently through the use of GUI front-ends.

GNOME Toaster This program, which is also known as GToaster, is tightly integrated with GNOME, although it can be used from other environments. Check http://gnometoaster.rulez.org for more information on this package.

K3B This program, based at http://k3b.sourceforge.net, is a front-end that uses Qt (the KDE toolkit). It's the default CD-R tool for some distributions.

All of these programs work in similar ways, although the details differ. X-CD-Roast must first be run by root before ordinary users can use it. Other programs may require setting the SUID bit on the cdrecord executable, and ensuring it's owned by root, if ordinary users are to use them. In order to work, a GUI front-end must be able to detect your CD-R drive or be told what it is. On my test system, X-CD-Roast, ECLiPt, and K3B had no problem with this task, but GNOME Toaster failed to detect my CD-R drive. The moral: If one tool doesn't work, try another.

All of these CD-R tools provide a dizzying array of options. For the most part, the default options work quite well, although you will need to provide information to identify your CD-R drive and burn speed, as described in the next section, "A Linux CD-R Example." Some mkisofs options can also be important in generating image files that can be read on a wide variety of OSs, as described in "Creating Cross-Platform CD-Rs."

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