February 20, 2019

Burning CDs in Linux: Tips and Tricks

This Does Not Have to Be Difficult

  • July 30, 2002
  • By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

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 CD-ROM.
  • 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.

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