4 Cdrskin
Thomas Schmitt edited this page 2020-07-08 14:29:08 +00:00


cdrskin is the cdrecord compatibility middleware of libburn and part of its release tarball.

Its paragon, cdrecord, is a powerful GPL'ed burn program included in Joerg Schilling's cdrtools. cdrskin strives to be a second source for the services traditionally provided by cdrecord. Currently it does CD-R and CD-RW this way. Overwriteable media DVD-RAM, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, and BD-RE are handled differently than with cdrecord-ProDVD in order to offer TAO-like single track recording. Sequential DVD-R[W], DVD+R, DVD+R DL, BD-R are handled like CD-R[W] with TAO and multi-session. Additionally cdrskin offers cdrecord-ProDVD-like mode DAO with DVD-R[W].

cdrskin does not contain any bytes copied from cdrecord's sources. Many bytes have been copied from the message output of cdrecord runs, though. The most comprehensive technical overview of cdrskin can be found in cdrskin/README.

About the command line options of cdrskin:

They are described in detail in section OPTIONS of man cdrskin

There are two families of options: cdrecord-compatible ones and options which are specific to cdrskin. The latter are mostly used to configure cdrskin for its task to emulate cdrecord. There are some, nevertheless, which provide rather exotic unique features of cdrskin.

The cdrecord-compatible options are listed in the output of

cdrskin -help

where the option "help" has one dash. Online: cdrskin -help

For these options you may expect program behavior that is roughly the same as described in original man cdrecord .

Online: http://cdrtools.sourceforge.net/private/man/cdrecord/cdrecord.1.html

The cdrskin-specific options are listed by

cdrskin --help

where the option "help" has two dashes. Online: cdrskin --help

Some are very experimental and should only be used in coordination with the libburnia developer team. Some are of general user interest, though:

--devices can be used by the sysadmin to scan the system for possible drives and displays their detected properties. The drives are listed one per line, with fields: libburn-drive-number, sysadmin-device-file, permissions, vendor, type

0  dev='/dev/sr0'  rwrw-- :  'HL-DT-ST'  'DVDRAM GSA-4082B'

This feature is valuable since cdrskin -scanbus will not give you the device file name and its current permissions. cdrskin will accept of course the proposed dev= option as address for any usage of the drive.

Different from cdrecord, cdrskin is intended to be run without special privileges, i.e. no superuser setuid. It is intended that the sysadmin controls drive accessability by rw-permissions of the drive rather than by x-permission of the burn binary. To be usable with cdrskin, the drive has to offer both, r- and w-permission.

blank=as_needed applies the suitable blanking or formatting to make any supported type of media ready for writing from scratch. If this is not possible, e.g. because the media is written and not re-usable, then the program run fails.

Option blank= offers several specialized blanking and formatting types, which one may use for particular purposes on DVD-RW, DVD-RAM and BD-RE. (See also below: blank=format_overwrite) The drive offers a list of possible formats by cdrskin option --list_formats. One should aquire MMC background information before making use of them.

cdrskin does not only read from and write to optical drives which comply to the MMC standard but also does the same with regular files or block devices other than optical drives.

Because the power to alter a disk file might be a bad surprise for a traditional user of cdrecord, it is necessary to give option --allow_emulated_drives before an emulated drive may be addressed. Eventually one of the startup files would be a good place for it. See man page, section FILES.

The addresses of emulated drives begin with the prefix "stdio:".


Regular files and block devices behave much like DVD-RAM.

Other file types may be valid targets for write-only operations. This includes standard output, named pipes, character devices


These files behave much like blank DVD-R.

All files used as pseudo-drives have to offer rw-permission.

The DVD capabilities of cdrskin differ from those of cdrecord-ProDVD. cdrskin offers TAO-like multi-session with DVD-R[W], DVD+R[ DL] and TAO-like single session with overwriteable DVD media. It also offers DAO on DVD-R[W] which is probably the same as the traditional cdrecord-ProDVD write mode.

Non-cdrecord blank mode blank=format_overwrite brings a DVD-RW disc from its initial profile "Sequential Recording" into profile state "Restricted Overwrite".

cdrskin dev=/dev/sr0 -v blank=format_overwrite

DVD-RAM, DVD+RW, BD-RE and overwriteable DVD-RW appear to cdrskin as blank media which are capable of taking only a single track. This track may be positioned on a 32KiB aligned address, though.

cdrskin ... write_start_address=2412m ...

Non-cdrecord blank mode blank=deformat_sequential brings an overwriteable DVD-RW back into state "Sequential Recording" with the capability of doing multi-session.

Used sequential DVD-RW media may be blanked by blank=fast or blank=all which normally both do full blanking. Thus sequential DVD-RW behave much like large CD-RW with possibly more than 99 tracks.

blank=deformat_sequential does minimal blanking of DVD-RW which usually yields media incapable of "Incremental Streaming".

Option --prodvd_cli_compatible activates blank=fast and blank=all for overwriteable DVD-RW which normally ignore those two options. It also makes option -multi tolerable with media and write modes which are not suitable for multi-session. (The default behavior of cdrskin deems me to be preferrable.)

Option --grow_overwriteable_iso gives cdrskin ISO pseudo-multi-session capabilities on DVD-RAM, DVD+RW, BD-RE similar to growisofs. Associated options blank=, -multi, -msinfo and -toc are available in this case. They either pretend a blank media (if there is no ISO 9660 image) or appendable media with a single session and track on it. blank= invalidates ISO images.

assert_write_lba=<lba> ensures that the start block address which was used with the formatter program (e.g. mkisofs -C) matches the start block address which will be used by the upcoming burn.

E.g. cdrskin aborts with an error message if


is given but an appendable media is to be burned which would start at block 68432.

An ISO-9660 file system image must be prepared according to a particular block address on media. If the prepared address and the real address on media do not match then the filesystem will not be mountable or may even cause system trouble.

A sequential archive format like afio or star will not necessarily need such a coordination of addresses. It might nevertheless be confusing to a reader if the archive does not start at block 0.

fifo_start_at=<num> is a throughput enhancer for unsteady data streams like they are produced by a compressing archiver program when piping to CD on-the-fly. It makes better use of the general property of a FIFO buffer to transport surplus bandwidth into the future. Yep. A time machine. One-way, i fear.

FIFO originally was introduced by cdrecord's author Joerg Schilling in order to protect mediocre burner hardware from suffering buffer underruns and thus producing misburns (at 1x speed on CD-R media at the price of a DVD-RAM nowadays). This purpose would not justify a fifo any more - given the limited life time of burners and the seamless underrun protection of contemporary consumer drives.

With an unsteady data stream the task of the buffer is to soak up peak performance and to release it steadily at the drive's maximum speed. The larger the buffer the more reserves can be built up and the longer input drought can be compensated.

Original cdrecord has the historical property, though, to first wait until the buffer is completely filled. Best practice for fighting drive underruns, of course. With a very fat fs=# buffer (128 MB for 12x CD is not unrealistic) this can cause a big delay until burning finally starts and takes its due time.

fifo_start_at=<num> makes cdrskin start burning after the given number of bytes is read rather than waiting for the FIFO to be completely full resp. the data stream to end. It risks a few drive buffer underruns at the beginning of burn, but modern drives stand this.

Usage examples:

cdrskin ...  fs=128m  fifo_start_at=20m  ...
cdrskin ...  fifo_start_at=0  ...

Note: no FIFO can give you better average throughput than the average throughput of the data source and the throughput of the burner. It can be used, though, to bring the effective throughput very close to the theoretical limit. Especially with high speed media.

--no_rc allows you to surely ban influence from systemwide or user specific default settings of cdrskin. Possible locations for such settings:


dev_translation=<sep><from><sep><to> may be needed to foist cdrskin to frontend programs of cdrecord which do not ask cdrecord -scanbus but which make own assumptions and guesses about cdrecord's device addresses.

Normally, cdrskin understands all addresses which are suitable for cdrecord under Linux. See cdrskin/README, "Pseudo-SCSI Adresses". This option is mainly for (yet unknown) exotic configurations or very stubborn frontend programs.

If a frontend refuses to work with cdrskin, look into the error protocol of that frontend, look at the output of a run of cdrskin --devices and give cdrskin the necessary hint. Example: Your frontend insists in using "0,0,0" and --devices reported dev='/dev/hdc' resp. cdrskin dev=ATA -scanbus reported "1,0,0" then this would be the appropriate translation:


The "+" character is a separator to be choosen by you. Currently i am not aware of the need to choose any other than "+" unless you get playful with custom translations like


See http://scdbackup.sourceforge.net/k3b_on_cdrskin.html for an illustrated example with K3b 0.10 .

Advanced multi-session use cases as of dvd+rw-tools:

A special feature of dvd+rw-tools is growing of ISO-9660 filesystems on overwriteable media. This is not the same as multi-session writing of cdrskin with CD media, but retrieves additional information from the existing ISO image and finally manipulates the start sectors of this existing image.

So, inspired by growisofs, cdrskin can offer DVD multi-session not only with sequential DVD-R[W] and with DVD+R [DL], but also with DVD-RAM, DVD+RW, BD-RE and even regular disk files or block devices other than CD/DVD writers. This is enabled by option --grow_overwriteable_iso.

The libburnia project provides an integrated ISO-9660 multi-session tool named xorriso which tries to go one step beyond growisofs. It uses libburn , libisofs and libisoburn.

See man xorriso.