Burning CDs in Linux: Tips and Tricks
This Does Not Have to Be Difficult
July 30, 2002
It doesn't seem that it should be that hard to burn a CD or CD-ROM,
especially in the case of Linux distributions where you're given the
base image to start with and just have to put the process in motion.
But it's not that simple. Between shoddy media, misaligned lasers, and
all of the other subtle things that can go wrong it's amazing that we
manage to get anything burned at all.
This article is not meant as an introduction to CD burning. Instead,
it's a catch-up for those who are familiar with burning but haven't
done so in Linux, or those who know just the basics and want to get
past some of their common frustrations.
If you're not well versed in CD and CD-ROM burning terminology, then
the rest of the discussion will get confusing pretty quickly. Let's
take a look at the various terms used in the world of putting data on
pretty metal disks, and some of the distinctions I make when talking
about these issues for the sake of clarity:
- A CD contains music, pictures, or movies (if it's a video CD)--though
traditionally only a music CD is a "CD." It doesn't have any actual
programs on it. Some CDs cross over these days by having special
functions on them to enhance their use, so I usually refer to
something by its primary function. To me, a music CD that has some
funky games and interactive features is a CD.
- A CD-ROM, to me, contains programs to run or data. If I back up all
of my word processor files onto a disk, I make a CD-ROM. If I burn a
Linux distribution onto a disk, I burn a CD-ROM--okay, technically if
it's a rewriteable it's not a ROM. Most of what I'll be talking about
in this article refers to CD-ROMs.
- Burning is the actual process of writing information to a CD or
- An "image," or .iso, is the single file that's either downloaded or
built, and is actually burned onto the CD-ROM.
- A CD writer or burner is the drive you use to write information to a
CD. Rather than saying CD and CD-ROM, I'll just refer to these drives
as CD writers, but I'm referring to both in this context.
- A WAV file is the format that music is placed into before being
burned onto the CD. WAV files are significantly larger than MP3 files,
so make sure you have plenty of space before either having an outside
program convert them, or converting by hand.