DVD Burning Notes for the Carnegie Supernova Project

1. Choice of media

As an initial media for mass storage DVD-R 4X single sided media is recommended (4.7 GB capacity).  Although, the Sony DW-U14A burners on our computers are capable of reading and writing most popular DVD and CD formats, many other computers are not equipped with universal read capability. A complete discussion of the various writable media types available is beyond the scope of this document, but the choice of DVD-R is not hard to understand. DVD-R is the most widely supported media and it is economical (approaching $ 1.00 a disk in bulk quantities). Initially we had considered using double-sided media, but after some reflection we now think this is not the best approach. The reason for this is that there is very little room on double-sided media to apply a label or mark directly on the disk. Furthermore with double-sided media it is necessary to manually flip the disk on our current burners to write on the opposite side.

2. DVD Software and Examples

I have implemented two methods to burn DVD's: Command line tools and K3b. The command line tools, dvd+rw-tools,  are the latest versions from  http://fy.chalmers.se/~appro/linux/DVD+RW/. This rather technical (but interesting) web site should be consulted for details. K3b is a KDE GUI that handles the burning of both DVD's and CD's quite intuitively.  K3b is a well-featured backup utility with  many nice features that users should like such as drag and drop file selection, multivolume DVD backups, backup verification, and DVD/CD copying. Note that k3b uses the dvd+rw-tool package as an underlying software layer.

There are several approaches to using command line tools to burn DVD's,  but the simplest method is to insert a blank DVD in the drive and simply issue the command:

$ growisofs -Z /dev/cdrom -R -J -apple  <directory>

where <directory> is the top of a directory tree. I have tested DVD-R's burned this way and they are readable on Linux, Windows XP, and Apple OS-X computers (and probably other OS’s as well). Note that in using this command line invocation, the user is responsible for having his files properly organized in the directory as they will all be streamed out and burned nearly immediately onto the blank DVD media. I estimate that burning a 4.7 GB DVD will take about 15 minutes depending on the number of files. The CSP will generate about 1.2 GB of data per night, so burning one archival DVD and one backup archival DVD each night should be very straightforward. More elaborate command line approaches are possible by developing scripts. By typing

$ mkisofs -help

a full set of switches, all usable by growisofs, is given.

To use the k3b GUI to burn or copy DVD's, open a terminal window and become superuser. Type

# k3b

and follow the intuitive GUI menus (similar to PC programs such as NERO) to select directories and files to burn or copy DVD's. Note that k3b also supports CD burning and copying if one has smaller sized data needs (650 MB per disk). It will be possible eventually to get k3b to work for non-privileged users.

  • Verify DATA Written to DVD: