Burning CDs in GNOME

Short URL: http://fsmsh.com/2020


The GNOME desktop environment comes with a simple and single-minded CD burner application built into the Nautilus file manager (not dissimilar to what Microsoft bundles with Windows XP’s Windows Explorer and Vista’s Explorer) that can handle a lot of your file burning needs. But what do you do if you need more complex tasks done, like burning or ripping an ISO file, or creating an audio CD?

When Nautilus begins to feel cramped and underpowered, it’s time to begin looking at some excellent free software utilities to fill the gap. Each one has its own unique style, benefits and weaknesses. All of these can be installed by following the directions on the project’s website, or by using your distribution’s package installer. I’ve tested these programs on Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy) and with a $69 LG CD/DVD super-multi burner I picked up at the local office supply store.

A quick note on some common disk burning terms is in order. Firstly, “burning" a disk is adding files to a CD or DVD using a laser. “BurnProof", “BurnFree" and similar technologies are designed to allow disk burning applications to recover if at some point the drive is burning data faster than the application can send it. “Ripping" is the process by which data (usually audio tracks) are copied from a disk to the hard drive. Finally an ISO is the standard file used to represent a CD image, it contains all the files and folders to be burned to the disk and usually has a .iso extension.

When Nautilus begins to feel cramped and underpowered, it’s time to begin looking at some excellent free software utilities to fill the gap


Screenshot of GnomeBaker’s project viewScreenshot of GnomeBaker’s project view

GnomeBaker (registered as a SourceForge project since late 2004) takes the approach of integrating with the GNOME desktop as much as possible, even using the native GNOME folder bar. It also boasts a large array of features; it can blank CD-RW and DVD-/+RW media, copy CDs and DVDs, burn and create ISO files (including copying an existing disk to ISO) and create audio CDs.

GnomeBaker also allows disk burning “projects" to be saved and reopened later, perfect if you need to make a lot of CDs, a few at a time. It also had the most disk burning options of the utilities reviewed here; with speed, mode, file system, BurnFree, and meta data options.

However, this plethora of options can be confusing at times, and GnomeBaker provided limited to no help on the features it provided (such as BurnFree, a tool to protect against bad writes); probably leaving those without knowledge of what the options do to stare and ponder. These downfalls limit GnomeBaker to being more of an “experts" CD burner.

There are some features GnomeBaker lack, namely “ripping" audio CDs and DVD video to hard drive. Also, it isn’t possible to select whether a disk is to be closed after writing (not closing a disk allows you to burn files to a disk now and then add more files to the same disk again later, until the maximum limit of the disk is used—a useful recycling feature).

Name GnomeBaker
Maintainer(s) Luke Biddell
License GPL
Platforms GNU/Linux
MARKS (out of 10)
Vitality 8/10
Stability 9/10
Usability 5/10
Features 7/10
Overall 7/10



Brasero’s project windowBrasero’s project window

Brasero (the project formerly known as Bonfire) takes a different approach, it focuses on simplicity and usability, and succeeds by having a more task-based interface than GnomeBaker, and simpler options. When you first open Brasero you are presented with four options: Audio Project, Data Project, Disk Copy and Burn an Image.

Brasero also has the option to save the disk layout as a “project", to be reused later. Like GnomeBaker, Brasero also had the option of burning a set of files to an ISO, and allowed disks to be copied to ISO. It also shares some of GnomeBaker’s weaknesses in that it cannot “rip" Audio or Video from disks. That said Brasero does give the option of leaving a disk open to add more files later, something GnomeBaker lacked.

Brasero’s task-based layout makes it easier to navigateBrasero’s task-based layout makes it easier to navigate

Brasero keeps its advanced options in a separate “properties" window out of the way of users who don’t want to configure those options, or don’t know how. “Burnproof" (the equivalent to GnomeBaker’s “BurnFree") is also available, and enabled by default.

Overall, Brasero is a much simpler disk burning solution, and has a nicer user experience over GnomeBaker. I would recommend this for those who don’t want to think much about their disk burner, and just want it to work.

Name Brasero
Maintainer(s) Philippe Rouquier
License GPL
Platforms GNU/Linux
MARKS (out of 10)
Vitality 9/10
Stability 10/10
Usability 9/10
Features 8/10
Overall 9/10



Serpentine’s project windowSerpentine’s project window

Serpentine is an Audio CD burner bundled with Ubuntu Edgy, and available separately for other GNOME desktops. It’s a work-alike for the audio CD functions of Brasero and GnomeBaker. It accepts many playlist formats as well, including those of Rhythmbox. You probably wouldn’t need Serpentine if you had one of the above disk burners, unless you needed to use one of these less-common playlists.

However, when used separately for audio CD mastering, Serpentine is great at its job; and it’s perfect for those who just want to burn audio CDs.

Name Serpentine
Maintainer(s) Tiago Cogumbreiro
License GPL
Platforms GNU/Linux
MARKS (out of 10)
Vitality 10/10
Stability 10/10
Usability 9/10
Features 8/10
Overall 9/10


Sound Juicer

Sound Juicer’s project windowSound Juicer’s project window

Sound Juicer is an Audio CD “ripper"/“juicer" also bundled with Ubuntu, and available as an RPM for other GNU/Linux distros. It’s the only application reviewed here that can “rip" music from a CD, useful for making smaller audio files from a CD for use on a portable music player. It supports ripping into OGG, FLAC and WAV natively.

Sound Juicer requires some custom configuration to rip to MP3, the legality of which is somewhat questionable. There are two good how-tos I’ve found for enabling MP3 support here and here. Because MP3 is a patented technology, many free software programs opt for free standards, like OGG and WAV, but if your portable player only supports MP3 you’ll need to utilize one of these solutions.

Name Sound Juicer
Maintainer(s) Ross Burton
License GPL
Platforms GNU/Linux
MARKS (out of 10)
Vitality 9/10
Stability 10/10
Usability 8/10
Features 8/10
Overall 8.5/10

Sound Juicer


Overall, there are a lot of great programs that can make your disk burning life with GNOME a lot easier. I encourage you to try out some of these programs, and find what you like. I focused only on the GNOME desktop, but all of these tools can be installed on KDE too as long as GTK is available. Likewise, you can easily use KDE’s K3B CD Kreator on GNOME (but you’d need to install all of the KDE libraries to do so).

Hopefully, you’ll find this information to be helpful the next time you take a journey through the disk burning jungle. Until next time.



Faisal Yousuf's picture

I've been using GnomeBaker for the past couple of years for my CD burning needs and it is ok. However, every now and then, I have some issues with its limitations. In those moments, I wish that KDE's K3B CD burning application is completely ported to Gnome because -in my eyes- K3B is the ultimate CD burning program.

undefined's picture
Submitted by undefined on

what would be the significant benefit of porting k3b to gnome?

i hardly use any "bloated" desktop environment, whether kde or gnome. (i always have open: openbox, rxvt, midnight commander, firefox, sylpheed, jpilot, xmms, psi, & gkrellm; primarily gtk apps.)

i occasionally use nautilus, gthumb, totem, & k3b. in my opinion every one of those applications drags along the bloat of gnome or kde, but the good outweighs the bad and i use them regardless.

if you have a resource-limited environment (not enough disk or memory to store or run the kde libs), then look into xcdroast. its interface isn't as modern as k3b, but it's very functional (even supporting network burning using cdrecord's rscsi).

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I like Gnomebaker a lot, but honestly, Nautilus fills almost all my needs. It can burn an ISO, if you right click an ISO file in the Nautilus browser then select Write to Disc. It can automatically detect if a disc is empty and should be formatted first (if its RW), and I can create ISOs and burn CD/DVD discs.

However, a major limitation of Nautilus, Gnomebaker, K3B, Graveman and all other burners that use cdrecord or dvdrw-tools is that they cannot burn multisession CD/DVD discs. This is a major setback, as I often have this need. Thwy cannot format DVD-RW discs either. Don't know why this is the case when Windows has had these features for over a decade.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Err, well, maybe you should check your facts again,
because they CAN burn multisession discs, and that has been the case since, ... over a decade or so? :)

Maybe you're confused by the fact that some of them don't call it "multisession" but only have an option to leave the disc "open".
And if i don't recall wrong, some even default to this option if the disc is not completely filled. (Maybe with the exception of Nautilus-burner, i haven't used it enough to be sure).

And I'm not 100% sure about formatting dvd-rw, as i only use dvd+rw, but i'm pretty sure they can format them (just take a look at dvd+rw-tools home page).


Varaahan's picture
Submitted by Varaahan (not verified) on

Multisession burning exists in Linux / K3b. The CLI supports it. In K3b the multisession option is named differently. In the advanced tab you have an option to start/ continue multisession .

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

One of the frustrating things about the gnome burners is that none that I have used convert and burn on the fly.
I am going to try brasero asap, but I doubt that software will do it either.
By not converting and then burning on the fly like programs like nero in windows do, audio cd creation times seem to double.

Also, sound juicer may be OK for the casual audio CD ripper but I find it to be very lackluster in features and performance. It is definitely under par compared to things like CDex and EAC.

So far I find that linux and audio cd creation/ripping is lacking compared to windows, but I find it easier to make a data cd in linux due to command line tools and the like.

With linux becoming more popular on the desktop, it is only a matter of time before audio cd creation and ripping matches the power of the apps on other platforms.

undefined's picture
Submitted by undefined on

maybe try k3b (kde app). i use it for burning 99.9% of the time, but one time i used it to burn mp3 to an audio cd (before i installed an in-dash mp3 player).

for ripping i use grip. an oldie, but a goodie (much like cdex). more featureful than sound juicer, but maybe not as nice as cdex (can't remember as it's been years since i used cdex or ripped on windows). for my purposes grip and cdex were equivalent, but maybe not for you.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

There is a NeroLinux now apparently:

maco's picture
Submitted by maco on

You can throw mp3s at GnomeBaker, and it'll convert and burn them fine. Don't know what you're talking about.

RooBarb's picture
Submitted by RooBarb (not verified) on

Also, try "Graveman" which converts and burns on the fly. Funky interface, but it does the trick!

orvils's picture
Submitted by orvils (not verified) on

I personaly find Nautilus CD burning feature everything i need to burn CDs. No extra installation needed, simple, easy and just works :)

Lobotomik's picture
Submitted by Lobotomik (not verified) on

It's nice to be able to burn from Nautilus, but it is lacking some important functionality (might be mistaken)

* No choice for closing disks
* No choice for adding a session to an existing disk
* No choice for burning an audio CD
* No choice for ordering the tracks

With these, nautilus-cd-burner might possibly be all that I needed. It does not seem to difficult to add all this, and I don't think it would muddy the user interface very much (beyond the fact that burning cd's *is* a muddy procedure).

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Yes you're right; I don't need to make any special things with DVDs an CDs.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Why are all apps marked "Platforms GNU/Linux"? All of them are in the FreeBSD ports collection.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Nautilus burns and rips ISOs too:

To burn: Right-click the .iso file and select "Write to Disc".

To create an ISO file with Nautilus, use the normal CD Creator, then select "File Image" after "Write disc to:" instead of your drive.

You can also browse and extract ISOs by right-clicking them.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

doesn't anyone use that ?


I've used that plenty in the past, and never had a problem :)

Mitch Meyran's picture

I'm a bit partial to k3b: yes, it is very complete, no, it's not GTK-based (even though I use Gnome), but then it has something other CD/DVD burning tools don't have:

That nice theme created by Ayo. Heh.
A computer is like air conditioning: it becomes useless when you open windows.

fak3r's picture

How about something like Rhythmbox or Banshee? They can rip from cd, and burn to cd. Perhaps this is more music rather than file based, but for me, that's 90% of what I do. Outside of that, burning ISOs is easily accomplished by a right click in Nautalis.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I know this article was about burning CD:s in gnome, but since in comments it has turned something like "it's difficult to rip cd's in _linux_" or similar, I think it's ok to but something about ripping audio-CD in KDE allso:


"Or, as another example, you can pop an audio CD into your CD drive, and Konqueror opens a window with virtual folders of your songs in MP3, Ogg Vorbis and other formats (depending on which extensions you have installed). Ripping your songs to MP3 format is as simple as copying and pasting the virtual MP3 files to another folder or to your MP3 player."

And here you can see allso pics: http://docs.kde.org/userguide/audio-cd.html

I allso think that lacking of ability to burn video-dvd is big downside of gnome-burners. I personally nautilus burner + K3b, since K3b is superb for everything I can't do with nautilus burner. So I would like to see gtk version of it. Maybe I just have to consider to moving to KDE after KDE4 is released.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Tray kaudiocreator for ripping. Using lame --preset standard works flawlessly. CDDB support, and all the extras.

jeffcobb's picture

Perhaps this one feature is just plain hidden but after having tried most of the mentioned apps for GNOME, they all seem to lack a simple feature that K3b does: after-burn image verification. Yes, I can do it manually but there is no reason not to have it in the app itself. K3b is bloated like a mofo but as long as it has this and the others don't I cannot trust the others after burned many a coaster with Nautilus/GNOMEBaker/et al....

superstoned's picture
Submitted by superstoned (not verified) on

You say K3B is bloathed, yet you require a rather obscure feature. Can't you imagine everyone needs different features, leading to an app like K3B? K3B does everything most ppl need, and in a very usable way - you won't be able to point me to a app which has the same or more features, but is more usable... (the same goes for amarok, btw, and many other KDE apps - though there are exceptions like konqueror which IS to hard to use for what it does, no matter how much that is)

jeffcobb's picture

Sorry dude; from a dev standpoint, K3b *is* an extremely heavy app. Look at the dependencies vs most of the others. However, the funniest part of your reply was that you *completely* missed the point:

I was saying and pointing out that I use K3b even though it is bloated because of the feature it has that none of the others do. The others may be lean and mean but without something like image burn verification, I will choose K3b everytime.

Moreover, image verification is not a heavy feature to add; it can be done in like two lines of shell script so this 'obscure' feature doesn't cost much in terms of code bloat.

So unless you have never EVER needed an md5 checksum to confirm what you burned is what you downloaded, I don't see what makes this 'obscure'.

Jeff Chapman's picture
Submitted by Jeff Chapman (not verified) on

KDE - it has everything I want; everything Gnome lacks... it's just that I haven't found it to be entirely glitch-free. Gnome is (IMHO) just more stable and I find things (like network-manager and vpn via pptp) "just work" whereas in KDE, they're really pretty but fail me.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Now what would be nice here, as a high ranking Google hit, would be a little list of aps.

brassero / bonfire (renamed)
also see: nautilus and konqueror for basic needs
also see: rhythmbox, banshee, and amarok for music needs
Given that many of these aps are frontends, it should be possible to write scripts to add more burning functions to your fave filemanager.

My fave is Thunar, and it makes adding scripts easy, so I'm going to add one which allows me to right click, burn an iso, and select files to add to a cd session (if i can. i expect i can)

Dread Knight's picture
Submitted by Dread Knight (not verified) on

I've tried lots and lots of applications for burning cds:

- the nautilus one if pathetic because of the lack of features/settings
- K3b is great but it's KDE/QT
- GnomeBaker is ok... but i've heard the project is like dead/deprecated
- Brasero is OUTSTANDING! I simply love it.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Thanks for this article!
I didn't read it all, but the Brasero review was enough to me to give it a try, and it was worthwhile. I am new to Gnome, and Brasero seems pretty good for what I need to do.

jwhite's picture
Submitted by jwhite on

With this guide it is now easier to burn blank CD's using Gnome. Thanks for this great guide. - J White

Author information

Robin Monks's picture


Robin Monks is a volunteer contributor to Mozilla, Drupal, GMKing and Free Software Magazine and has been helping free software development for over three years. He currently works as an independent contractor for CivicSpace LLC