How do I write CD at Debian Linux command prompt

We have couple of Debian Linux boxes with CD/DVD combo drive. We have an automated solution over network to backup all data everyday. However recently we decided to make backup of logs and few modified application on a CD. Don’t ask me why but my manager asked me to do so. He said if not possible to take backup using command line fetch all files using ftp/http to windows XP and then write them :/?

Since I was aware of command line based cd-writing utilities, I told him I can do it on server itself. Here is my server setup:

P4 System running Debain Linux with custom compile 2.6.xx.xx series kernel. In order to write CDs at command prompt you need programs:
1)mkisofs – Create an ISO file image so that cdrecord can use the same to burn on a CD.
2)cdrecord – It is a utility capable of burning an actual disc i.e. ISO images created with mkisofs.
Since these packages were not installed I quickly run the commands to install it:
# apt-get install mkisofs
# apt-get install cdrecord

Configure cdrecord to write a CD

Under kernel version 2.6 you would not want to use ide-scsi for
CD-writing, the new kernel provides a superior access method that finally supports DMA access when writing CDs. Find out the device name used by your cdwriter i.e. find out the virtual SCSI ID of your device:
# cdrecord dev=ATA: -scanbusOutput:

Cdrecord-Clone 2.01a34 (i686-pc-linux-gnu)
Copyright (C) 1995-2004 Jrg Schilling
scsidev: 'ATA:'
devname: 'ATA'
scsibus: -1 target: -1 lun: -1
Warning: Using badly designed ATAPI via /dev/hd*
Linux sg driver version: 3.5.27
Using libscg version 'schily-0.8'.
 1,0,0 100) 'SONY' 'CD-Writer' '1.0g'
 1,1,0 101) *
 1,2,0 102) *
 1,3,0 103) *
 1,4,0 104) *
 1,5,0 105) *
 1,6,0 106) *
 1.7.0 107) *

As you see SONY CD-WRITER at 1,0,0. The comma separated number you need to pass to command line option as -dev=1,0,0. You can write an ISO image to CD with the following command:
# cdrecord -v -dev=ATA:1,0,0 speed=4 mydata.iso


  • -speed=XX : Specify writing speed.
  • -v : Verbose output.
  • -dev : The virtual SCSI ID of your device

Here is an example, to create backup of /home/hosting-app/ directory:

a) Create an ISO file that can be opened on both windows and Linux computer:
$ mkisofs -v -o /tmp/happ.iso -R /home/hosting-app

b) Write an ISO (happ.iso) to CD i.e. burn an image:
$ cdrecord -v -dev=ATA:1,0,0 speed=4 /tmp/happ.iso

Read man pages of cdrecord and mkisofs for more information.

Update: The latest version of Debian Linux, try updated package called wodim.

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I'm Vivek Gite, and I write about Linux, macOS, Unix, IT, programming, infosec, and open source. Subscribe to my RSS feed or email newsletter for updates.

7 comments… add one
  • imp Sep 11, 2005 @ 20:52

    Or, you can simply use BashBurn:

  • imp Sep 11, 2005 @ 20:54

    …when you want to do it from command line, but interactively.

  • Rock Da Linux Sep 12, 2005 @ 0:10

    Thanks imp pointing out nice little tool 🙂

  • Allotment Mar 23, 2007 @ 13:21

    debain typo in title

  • 🛡️ Vivek Gite (Author and Admin) nixCraft Mar 23, 2007 @ 14:20


    Thanks for heads up!

  • sujith Aug 28, 2009 @ 6:29

    This brief explanation is simple and very usable.we need to know how to configure if it is a SATA CD/DVD writer?

  • Anonymous Jun 22, 2010 @ 18:45

    WARNING: the ATA: method is considered deprecated on modern kernels!
    Use --devices to display the native names.

    Update please?

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