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Burning CDs Over the Network with webCDwriter - page 4

Getting and Installing webCDwriter

  • September 16, 2002
  • By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Now for the fun part. Again, you'll need to go to the CDWserver web page, look to the webCDcreator menu, and click Start Page (bringing up what you saw earlier in Figure 2). Click the appropriate Start link, and then if necessary, the big Start button. In Mozilla, what you see is shown in Figure 3.

Obviously, you can change the greeting dialog by editing the file /etc/CDWserver/greeting. Click OK and the CD Type Selection dialog opens, as shown in Figure 4. Your options are as follows (my translated version, in the same order they appear in the dialog):

  • Create a data CD from a specific set of files and directories that already exists.
  • Burn a CD from an ISO image you've already acquired.
  • Burn WAV and MP3 files on a CD to listen to.

I'm going to walk through how to burn a data CD so I can selfishly use this program to back up the documents on my main work machine. Therefore, I leave the first item selected, and click OK to proceed. This action brings me to the main webCDcreator dialog, shown in Figure 5.

Personally, I find the navigation quite intuitive. You click on the circles next to the directories to expand them. Navigate until you find the directory that you want to write to disk, and then click the double right arrow to add it to the data disk image. webCDcreator will take the time to calculate how much space is taken up by this information.

There is a set of buttons to the left of the Data CD window that prove quite useful. From top to bottom, these are:

  • The scissors button Navigate through the right pane to a file that you don't want to include on your data CD, and then click this button to remove that file from what will be burned. You can select a range of files by clicking the first one, and then holding down the Shift key while clicking the last. You can select numerous but nonsequential files in the same directory by holding down the Control key while selecting them.
  • The folder button Create a new directory on your data CD.
  • The boot button If you want this CD to be bootable, select the boot floppy image that needs to be run, and then click this button to set it as the bootable data.

Now that I've got some of the junk weeded out of the information going onto my data CD, I select Action|Burn Project from the menus, to open the Options dialog shown in Figure 6.

I happen to know that the CD I'm using is a blank, so I don't need to worry about wiping its current contents. After setting Verify as on so the burner will ensure that the data was properly written (always, always, always, verify this as well by actually accessing the data before you trust this!) and selecting a speed of 8x, I check the simulate checkbox so I can test whether my machine's got too heavy a load running before I actually make a "coaster."

There are three different "extensions" options available to me at this point:

  • Joliet I leave this on so I can use long file names (up to 64 characters).
  • Rock Ridge Allows long names on Unix-compatible CDs. I leave this one on too.
  • Apple HFS Creates a CD that's only readable on old Apple systems that didn't support the ISO format, and systems that can emulate this filesystem, including many Linux installations. I don't bother with this one.

After typing a name in the Volume ID text box, I click Continue to proceed. The Transmitting the Files dialog opens, with a progress bar showing me how far it's gotten in passing all of this data over the network. Remember that at this stage, I'm only doing a simulation, but it still needs all of the information for the burn to be able to handle this test accurately.

Once the information is on the server machine, I get the Insert CD-R dialog shown in Figure 7. This could be the only pain, but if you have the CD writer next to someone's workstation and they're responsible for swapping items in and out, you could send them an instant message, an email, or call them to put the media in. Otherwise you'll have to do it yourself. In my case, the machine's right next to me. So I pop in the media and wait for the machine to do its thing.

Ah, a standard error. Joliet extensions can cause problems with long filenames where the first 64 characters for 2 files are identical. This issue most often shows up with saved web pages, and sure enough, I click Details and it's in an archive location for some of my online articles. So now I'm back to the main webCDcreator page and have to remove or rename those items. No big deal.

The nice thing is that after I've made my changes, webCDcreator remembers the items I selected in the Options dialog. Soon I'm transferring all of the files againit has to build a new image after all. I suppose it would be nice if it tracked what I'd changed and just altered the previous item, but so far this program has been great so I won't complain too loudly.

This time there's no problem. It goes to Writing the CD and even though it's just simulating, it goes through the motions, even going as far as accessing the drive. The progress bar takes its time but at least I can keep working on my main box while letting the burn server do its thing.

A side note while I'm waiting. I've never actually used the CD burner in this machine before. I've never bothered to set it up. I wasn't even sure I had the proper drivers in place. Heck, I'm using the machine that's running the latest Red Hat beta, and I'm still not having problems. Considering the endless trouble I run into with some of the software I review and do tutorials for, this software definitely deserves a gold star.

The simulation claims to have worked. I put the CD in another machine to see if it really wasn't written to, and sure enough, it's blank. So now I go back and really create the CD. This software is smart enough not to download the contents again, so it goes directly to the writing routine.

After the real write completes, and verifies to say it was properly written, I once again put the CD into another machine. This time I actually do have data on the CD. The files open, and in general, I am able to verify my new backup.

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