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  Linux Letter 10

The Linux Letter for August 9th

I always thought that the smell of burning plastic was one of the most offensive odors known to the nose of man. So when I started burning CD's, I created this odd picture in my mind of fire spitting out of my computer. Now, given the temperatures that we routinely achieve in the NOSPIN Network Operations Center, fire breathing computers might not seem too far out of the ordinary, but fortunately, it hasn't happened yet.

CD-Recordable and CD-Rewriteable drives get cheaper and cheaper as time passes. A fewyears ago I bought a Hewlett Packard 4020i for about $400. That was a great price. But now I can purchase something four times as fast for about the same price. Since I love to use Linux on my computers at home and at work, you can bet that I spent some time finding just the right CD recording software to use.

At the NOSPIN NOC, we have a Pentium II-300 system that provides several services. It is theprimary nameserver for several domains, it hosts some Windows 95 applications using VMWare and we create the RedHat Linux CD's that people like you purchase. That system uses the tried and true HP 4020i CD recorder.

Installing the hardware is virtually a no-brainer. A CD recorder is really no different from aCD-ROM drive. In fact, you can mount a disk in a CD recorder the same way that you mount a disk in a CD-ROM drive. The real test comes in actually creating disks. There are several software packages that are available under the GNU Public License, but most of them have at their heart a command line utility called cdrecord, and perhaps a few others.

Now, cdrecord is perfectly useable as your sole program to author recordable CD's. Of coursethe question that begs asking is, "Why would you want to?" While there may be some obscure reason why cdrecord would make a fine stand alone product, I don't know of one, so I rely on graphical interfaces to help me do my work.

Several programs are available, including some that are designed with a particular environmentin mind, such as toaster (for GNOME), but the easiest to use and most reliable to me is X-CD-ROAST. This program is written with gtk and c. It offers a full suite of utilities, including creating masters from groups of files, copying from one disk to another and creating music CDs.

The interface is very simple and clean. The only sticking point was the configuration. Since Iused a SCSI interface, the configuration program required that I enter some SCSI ID information that was somewhat difficult to find and a bit clumsy to enter. I'm told that the next version of the software will alleviate that problem.

Creating a CD is very easy. Copying one CD to another is simply a couple of mouse clicksaway. But one of the most effective uses of this software is to master a CD, or create an image of the CD in a file on the hard drive. Usually I create a daily master of the Linux installation tree to burn to a set of CDs. The process takes about 10 minutes, then CD burns are much faster and reliable.

X-CD-ROAST supports any CD-Recordable drive that cdrecord supports, which includes mostIDE and SCSI drives. It also supports many parallel port CD-R devices.

Linux is an excellent platform for recording compact discs. Because the operating system is so responsive and does not require substantial system resources for itself, you'll find that you can "burn" a CD while you read an mail or surf the web...something that you would not dream of doing on a Windows-based system!

The current version of X-CD-ROAST is 0.96e. 0.98 is scheduled for release very soon and sample pictures of the interface are available on the web. As with most Linux software, X-CD-ROAST is free.


Hewlett Packard: http://www.hp.com

Hot Tip of the Week

The latest and greatest Linux kernel is available, version 2.2.11, and here's a tip that mayspeed up compiling it.

Edit /usr/src/linux/Makefile

Find the line "make=make" and replace it with "make=make -j 5

Remove the "#" from the line "#INSTALL_PATH=/boot"

You can potentially speed up kernel compiles by allowing the system to compile 5 things at once.

Thanks to Dave Bechtel and the gang at http://tunelinux.com

Happy computing!

Drew Dunn


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