2018 and CD burning still painful

Ok, we are in 2018, and for the first time in ages I wanted to burn a Audio CD, and dared to think about CD_TEXT. You know what – it is hard as in impossible for a normal user. And that in 2018. Debian, you could try to do better.

Before I start I guess it is necessary to make clear that this is a newly installed system, less than a few months old. That I am as Debian Developer not completely new to system administration. Furthermore, the user trying to burn is member of the cdrom group.

The problem with most GUI frontends is that they rely on wodim, a member of the cdrkit family. And wodim itself simply doesn’t work:

$ wodim -dummy  -v speed=16 dev=/dev/sr0 -audio track*
wodim: No write mode specified.
wodim: Assuming -tao mode.
wodim: Future versions of wodim may have different drive dependent defaults.
TOC Type: 0 = CD-DA
wodim: Operation not permitted. Warning: Cannot raise RLIMIT_MEMLOCK limits.
wodim: Resource temporarily unavailable. Cannot get mmap for 12587008 Bytes on /dev/zero.
$

Yes I know, the easy solution is to make wodim setuid root, but this is not what I want. Unfortunately the – in contrast to cdrkit/wodim still in development – parent of wodim, cdrecord, works, but only because it is setuid root after a standard installation.

That is all complicated by the fact that the main front-ends are, well, broken:

  • K3b: feels like completely broken: it cannot open its own saved project files, the .inf files generated for an audio CD project are completely broken and void of any content, it hangs regularly without any response
  • Nautilus DVD/CD burning: incapable of doing Audio CDs, offers only Data cd
  • Brasero: terminates with “ejecting disc” and “An unknown error occurred”, looking at the log file it shows that again wodim is the culprit. But brasero could be a bit more helpful! Additional minus point: no cddb interface.

The only exception I found was Xfburn which managed to burn the CD without any hitch or problem. Wow – besides it doesn’t support CD_TEXT, which is also not optimal.

A solution for burning CD_TEXT

So in case you really want to burn CD_TEXT, there is at the moment, as far as I see, only one option, and that is the command line using Cdrdao. Thanks to this excellent article I managed to burn using the following command (as user, not root, nothing special):

cdrdao write --device /dev/sr0 --driver generic-mmc:0x10 -v 2 -n --eject mycd.toc

The format of the .toc file is a bit complicated but documented, see the linked article.

All in all a very depressing situation I have to say, especially for being in 2018 …

13 Responses

  1. Andy Cater says:

    CD burning – the annoying thing is that it works perfectly for data CDs – and mentioning cdrecord means dealing with He Who Must Not Be Named 😦 I’m not sure how I’d burn an audio CD – perhaps via a round trip through VLC to produce MP3?

  2. Martin says:

    I agree, that the state of CD burning is still sad. OTOH, less and less people use CDs anyway. Last week somebody gave me an audio CD as a present: It took me days to find my external CD drive to be able to listen to the music! And I’m old. Younger people know CDs only as something in one line with 8in floppy disks and 78rpm records. Maybe we should just give up on this technology?

    • Hmm, even LPs are coming back, and here in Japan the CD market is still considerable I have the feeling. I myself regularly get CDs, but then, I’m not young either.

    • Jonathan says:

      Honestly, I agree; I think trying to improving burning software quality is now pretty futile, since it’s becoming a niche requirement. Even software for reading data from optical media could do with some love.

      • I disagree. There is still a huge market for CD/DVDs. We (TeX Live Team) are distributing DVDs every year to TeX User Groups around the world, and we haven’t found a better medium. USB sticks are unfortunately not universally usable (problems with file system support in various OSs).

  3. There is also cdrskin, a cdrecord compatibility wrapper around libburn.
    See man cdrskin, EXAMPLES, “Write audio tracks and CD-TEXT to CD:” and
    “Extract audio tracks and CD-TEXT from CD into directory /home/me/my_cd”.
    The format of “Sony Input Sheet version 0.7T” is shown at the
    description of option “input_sheet_v07t=path”. A complete example sheet
    can be seen at
    https://dev.lovelyhq.com/libburnia/libburn/raw/master/doc/cdtext.txt
    under “Content of file NIGHTCATS.TXT”.

    Xfburn could make use of such features, too, because it uses libburn
    which offers API call session_input_sheet_v07(). I could help GUI
    programmers with the plumbing part: scdbackup@gmx.net , bug-xorriso@gnu.org .

    • Thanks Thomas, indeed, I will try it out on the next occasion. Whether xfburn is open to your support is nothing I can influence, but if you are interested in helping, please contact them directly. It would be great to have cd_text support in xfburn.

  4. Regrettably i lost contact to David Mohr of Xfburn. Real life, i assume.
    To my knowledge the biggest gap in GNU/Linux is Blu-ray mastering.
    With music CD burning, your assessment of GNU/Linux applies mostly
    to the GUI programs. From time to time a new maintainer pops up.
    Currently there is some hope in K3B with Leslie Zhai. But he not even
    has a real burner drive. I myself use fvwm2 as desktop, and my non-talent
    with GUIs can be seen with xorriso-tcltk:
    https://www.gnu.org/software/xorriso/xorriso-tcltk-screen.gif

    • To clarify: The gap is Blu-ray _video_ mastering for standalone video players. Burning works fine. I make daily data backups as ISO 9660 on BD-R and BD-RE media.

  5. karl says:

    k3b is the only thing that has worked for me (under centos/fvwm; never tried under debian). i edit the text in their gui, and breathe a sigh of relief when the burn actually starts. didn’t experience the hangs and other problems you had. fwiw …

  6. Umij says:

    … and this and he who must not be named is why I have given up on Linux on private computers. For programming and work everything is cool, but on my limited spare time with family and stuff I need things that JUST WORK.

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