Linux: How to burn a CD/DVD through the command line

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  1. Burn
  2. CDW

Carrying out common daily tasks such as burning a DVD through the comfort of a user-friendly graphical interface is, of course, a good thing, but unfortunately, things don't always work as expected. When this is the case, Linux users can revert to the good old terminal to get things done no matter what. In this quick tutorial, we will see how Linux users can utilize the terminal to burn audio CDs, data DVDs, or ISO images on a disk.


Burn is a console-based application that allows users to create many kinds of media on optical disks. Burn doesn't need to get started or anything, so you simply insert the command on a terminal and you are good to go. The command is


and it can/should be followed by determining parameters. Type “burn -e” and press enter and you will be given a set with various commands that correspond to different burning purposes.

Now let's suppose that I want to burn an ISO image. To do this, I move the image file on my /home folder and then open a terminal and type the following command: “sudo burn -I -n test_image.iso”. I can then review the contents by mounting the image on /mnt and also view the directory tree structure on the terminal. Hitting “3” and enter will initiate the burning process.

In a similar way, you can choose to burn the contents of a particular directory, burn audio CDs or whatever else you need to do. If the “burn -e” command isn't yielding useful enough information, you can also insert the “burn –help” command for a more verbose and detailed set of instructions on the various parameters that can be used along “burn”.


CDW is another terminal-based CD/DVD burning application that follows a different approach from Burn. CDW requires initiation, so you start it by typing:


and pressing enter. This will display a console interface with the main options found on the top left and navigate through the arrow keys, enter and escape (select, go back).

Choose the first option and navigate to the folder that contains the files you want to burn. I chose Cut Chemist's “The Audience is Listening” album to demonstrate CDW. You can select each file by pressing the “space” key.

You can then press “q” or “esc” to go back to the start screen and review your file selection. For any files that you added on the selection by mistake, you can navigate to the “Delete Files” option and then use the arrow and “delete” keys to remove the highlighted selection.

CDW has many advanced abilities such as “blanking” a disk or ripping an audio CD on a selected folder. To overcome the possible problem of CDW not automatically detecting the disk you have inserted you can go to the “Configuration” menu, press F5 to enter the Hardware options and then on the first entry press enter and choose your device (by pressing enter again). To change to a different directory, use the cd command. Save the setting with F9.

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