Update, 7 July 2007 Maybe Brasero is more for the basic jobs. K3b will do more for you…
My system76 desktop machine came with a CD-RW/DVD-RW drive that I’ve finally got around to trying out. I wasn’t too concerned about how it would work with GNU/Linux, since I suspected CD and DVD burning should be relatively well-supported by now. Of course, you never know until you try.
I’ve been chugging along with getting my backup regime in place and it’s only a matter of time before I’ll need to start making DVD backups on my GNU system. I’d taken a peek at the built-in burning software in Ubuntu, and it hadn’t looked very impressive. I was looking forward to diving in and resolving my uncertainty about CD/DVD management, which is a key part of my backup strategy.
I don’t use multisession CDs very often, but I like to use them with a CD-RW for my wife to bring some spreadsheets from home to work. There’s about 15MB worth of data, and it’s easiest to keep adding it to a CD. We also get to have a few generations of backups hanging around that way. So yesterday I took the opportunity to try burning the data on the GNU machine (that she uses) instead of copying up to the Windows machine where I regularly burn stuff.
The first thing I discovered with the included software is that it doesn’t handle multisession CDs. That wouldn’t be a complete showstopper, if I could blank the CD and start over, but I didn’t see a way to do that either. It appears that the Nautilus integrated built-in software software for data CD/DVDs is awkward and limited. (I suspect much like the built-in burner software in Windows which I’ve never even tried.)
No problem: this is the world of free software. There were sure to be many alternatives out there. Initially I ran across GnomeBaker, and while it looked promising according to the Wikipedia page and the interface after I installed it (graphically from Synaptic — another seamless and easy install), I had some problems.
First, I had error messages about not being able to get an exclusive lock on the CD drive:
Error trying to open /dev/cdrw exclusively (Permission denied)... retrying in 1 second
Lots of information about this. (One thing I like about Ubuntu is there are a lot of other newbies out there trying to use it so I find a lot of search results for my problems.) It looked like I might have to edit some files and change permissions or use SUID, but first I could try running with sudo and that got me past the first error.
I tried erasing a CD-RW. It was taking a while but we were going out to eat so I just left it working. When we got back I saw that it had taken 20 minutes. And that was with the fast blank option.
Ok, let’s try adding some data. 15MB appeared to work with multisession. I added a second 15MB. And then I couldn’t read it. Nothing. I could keep working with the software, of course. Maybe I was just being dumb and doing it wrong. But one of the joys of free software is that there are usually alternatives and the switching cost is low, so let’s move onward and upward to…
Some searching brought me to a good article in Free Software Magazine about CD burning. Robin Monks first discussed GnomeBaker, and then Brasero (formerly “Bonfire”). (It’s Spanish for “electric heater.” Get it?)
I didn’t see Brasero in the graphical package manager, but I’ve learned enough by now to guess that the command:
sudo apt-get install brasero
Might do the job, and sure enough, Ubuntu downloaded and installed Brasero from the Universe repository without a hitch. It works great so far and I don’t have to start it as sudo (gksudo). No messing with config files or permissions or anything either. (So far!)
If I launch it from the command line, it spits out a few errors, but everything seems fine. There is:
Error: Cannot gain SYS_RAWIO capability.Is cdrecord installed SUID root? : Operation not permitted
As well as what I’m seeing as standard cdrecord complaints:
cdrecord: Warning: Running on Linux-2.6.17-11-generic cdrecord: There are unsettled issues with Linux-2.5 and newer. cdrecord: If you have unexpected problems, please try Linux-2.4 or Solaris.
(Which sounds pretty bogus, doesn’t it? According to Wikipedia, there is some controversy swirling around the cdrecord console program that all these GUI-based programs seem to be using.)
Anyway, Brasero erased my CD-RW quickly with no problems. I burned some data on to the CD and when adding some more it was smart enough to ask me if I wanted to add it to what was already there. (However, in my initial attempts, it doesn’t show me what’s already there from within the application.) It also erased and wrote to a DVD-RW with no trouble. Both discs were readable from my Windows machine. (And a DVD backup I made in Windows was readable in Ubuntu, which has nothing to do with GNOME CD burning, but was good to know my backups are readable on a different machine than the one that created them.) :-)
So there you have it. I’ve been using Nero for years in Windows, but I only use a limited subset of its features. It’s almost all data backups and audio CDs for me, and I don’t need a lot of options for that. Brasero easily replaces Nero for my purposes.
There is also the KDE K3b application which looks pretty good, but since Brasero is working so well at the moment I’ll stick with it and save K3b for another day.
ISO Images / Audio CD / Video DVD
Also topics for another day when I’ve had occasion to try these things. (I need to get going on using free video software soon.)