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August 1999

CDRecord/2, Audio-CD-Creator and Data-CD-Creator

By: Gordon Williams gwilliam@math.washington.edu

In the last couple of years we have seen a lot of products originally developed for Linux and Unix users ported to OS/2, and the subject of this article has a lot in common with its peers. It works, getting it to work the first time can be a pain, and it's free. The thing that makes this particular port so exciting is the way OS/2 has been leveraged by the author Chris Wohlgemuth to make a robust command line application for *nix into a really snazzy tool inheriting some of the best features of OS/2's object oriented interface.

The testbed

My system is running OS/2 Warp 4.0 with fixpak 9 installed. I have an Intel Pentium 166 MHz processor, 48 MB RAM, several EIDE controlled hard disks, an Adaptec 2930UC SCSI card and a Yamaha 4416s CRW drive.

Don't try this at home

I don't know about anyone else, but I have a tendency to make costly mistakes when I'm trying to get a new toy to work. This sad story is included for two reasons: 1) it might amuse you; 2) it might save you some trouble. The trouble is that the Yamaha drive wasn't recognized under OS/2 with my original SCSI card, an Adaptec 2920. At this point I'm just trying to get the thing to READ CDs. Turns out this card had most of its most essential guts developed by Future Domain, which was then bought by Adaptec precisely to obtain those valuable guts. A lot has happened since then like the development of consumer CD-R and CD-RW devices and so support on this card for these devices is iffy. In fact, I had a very nice chat with the people at Adaptec, during which I learned that even if the 2920 drivers were modified to provide the same level of read support I got with this drive under Win98 (about the possibility of which much doubt was expressed) I would likely never get it to write.

Clearly I needed a new card, so I decided upon the Adaptec 2930 as a likely solution to my problems (Hey, I like Adaptec cards, and Adaptec tech support is some of the most knowledgeable and helpful in the business). Unfortunately, no one in town had one for sale for the PC. I was able to obtain one for the Macintosh, and I figured it wouldn't be an issue because it would just be the bundled software right? Well, it turns out this card will work under OS/2, and it will recognize the Yamaha. The problem is that the hardware is different and I could not get the card to write. Eventually I got the PC version of the card and since then everything has been working just honkey dorey. By the way, Adaptec does not claim to support the 2930 for OS/2 in spite of the fact that it uses the same chip set as all the rest of their newer cards, and very current drivers are available on the IBM web site which appear to have been developed by Adaptec. Go figure.

What you need

You're going to need several files. They are cdrecord-v1.8a22_os2.zip, audiocdcreator_031b.zip and aspir101.zip. You also need a supported CD-R device attached to a SCSI adapter (ATAPI support is still in the wings), and some blank CD media. Also useful are the latest version of cdda2wav (which is included) or leech (which is not) to handle your grabbing of audio tracks from CD. I had no luck with leech though as it doesn't like the Yamaha drive either. Oh, and before I forget, you'll need the EMX runtime libraries V 0.9d Fix 1 in your libpath.


This phase was a breeze. All one has to do was add the lines
If they aren't already there, and follow the instructions on installing aspirout.sys. Unpack the remaining zipfiles into your favorite directory and run install.cmd from the Audio-CD-Creator package. On my system this was c:\systools\cdrecord2. A warning about the included documentation. It cannot be viewed with older versions of GhostScript and GSView. You must have GSView version 2.7 or above and GhostScript version 5.50. Also note that the postscript documentation for cdrecord and cdda2wav have not been rewritten for use with OS/2. The good news is that it doesn't matter as long as you ignore the SCSI related information and imitate what I eventually did. On your desktop should now be a folder called CD-Writing Utilities.

Folder Image

Before you do anything else you should open the properties dialogue on the Audio-CD-Creator template and change some of the settings. On the CDRecord/2 options tab you should enter the path to cdrecord.exe and in the options line include the statement dev=a,b,0 speed=c -v. Here a is the host adapter number, typically zero; b is the device number of your CD-R drive, typically a number between one and seven; and c is the write speed at which you wish your drive to operate.


Next in line is setting up your grabber. Configuration will depend on the grabber you are using but if you use the included cdda2wav you can use an option line like -Da,b,0 -s -t%2 where a and b are as above.

Next in line is configuration of the properties dialogue in the Data-CD-Creator folder template. Some good news is you only have to set up the CDRecord/2 options tab once, and so you won't have to do it for the data folder as well. The most important thing is to verify your Mkisofs setup tab, making sure that the location of mkisofs is correct.

Other pages are fairly easy to manipulate, but essentially only useful for particular recording tasks such as setting author and volume labels. Now you're ready to burn some disks!

Putting it through its paces

While it isn't entirely clear that all of these steps are necessary, I didn't get errors, traps or need to reset the drive when I followed the procedure outlined below.

For recording an audio cd, first drag the Audio-CD-Creator template folder to a suitable location. If you are going to drag actual *.wav files to the folder, I recommend placing them on a fairly fast hard disk with a lot of free space. Seven hundred MBs should do. The author claims the package supports the dragging of shadows into the folder, but will only read one layer deep if you do. Tests of this functionality with Audio-CD-Creator and shadows of *.wav files did not lead to successful writes. Instead, I had the most success with my audio cd tests when I just put the *.wav files directly in the folder. The only files which will be copied to your CD as audio tracks in an Audio-CD-Creator folder are the wav files, so anything else you might dump in there won't make any difference. This turns out to be a really handy feature as a lot of other junk will get created in the folder if you use the grabbing features.

Speaking of grabbing, let's start there. Assuming everything is configured correctly, select the Grab radio button, insert the source CD into your CD drive, and select Refresh. A list of the tracks should appear. Select which ones you want to keep with your mouse, type a base filename into the Trackname dialogue and hit the Grab button at the bottom. A number of files will soon appear in the folder window, most critical of which are the log file and the Trackname##.wav files. If you have problems, check out the contents of the log file. While occasionally cryptic, it can be very helpful in debugging the configuration.

grab view

After you have collected all the files you are going to use for the writing process, switch over to the Write radio button. Now you can go through the process of reordering the tracks via drag-and-drop. As the Audio-CD-Creator is a refinement of the folder class, all of the usual folder functionality is available here. I found it much easier to work with reordering if I first sorted by type to simplify access to the *.wav. One cool feature is that in either view, the total time of the *.wav files in the folder is listed at the bottom. While not always accurate (for a while it thought I had 400 minutes of audio in there), refreshing the folder will reset the counter. Now we get to the key steps. While I attempted to use the Dummy write modes, I didn't get anything particularly useful out of doing so. Instead I just went straight to writing, and this seemed to work fine. Disable Dummy writing mode. Insert your blank CD-R into your writer, and select CD-R/W Tools from the Misc-Tools menu. A dialogue window will come up.

CD-R/W-Tools Dialogue

Select the Load disk radio button and click Do it. An OS/2 command line window will come up telling you some information about the disk and the drive. If not, some mucking about with the configuration will be necessary. Now go back to the Audio-CD-Creator folder and select the Write button. A confirmation dialogue will come up listing the tracks and their order. After confirmation the tracks will be written to the disk. After this task has completed, go back to the CD-R/W-Tools window and select Fix the CD. Deselect Dummy and hit the Do it button. The table of contents will now be written to the disk and no more data can be added to it. Finally, select Unload disk and hit Do it again. This should spit out your completed audio CD.

I had negative results when I disabled the No fix check box. I'm pretty sure this is supposed to remove the necessity of performing the fix step mentioned above with the CD-R/W-Tools, but I got a trap error 000d in my SCSI driver. Note: This may be a consequence of a known conflict between version 1.8a22 of cdrecord and the Yamaha 4416s and not a problem users of other drives will experience.

For the most part, creation of data CDs using Data-CD-Creator folders follows the same game plan. The big difference is that there is no grab phase, you just drag and drop files or the shadows of files into the folder. Another key difference is that after the selection of material to be written has been made, you need to create a *.raw file from it. This is what will actually be written to disk eventually, and can be thought of as a disk image. The problem is that the Imagename: dialogue won't let you type the filename in directly, but must instead be entered through the Browse... button. Once this is done, the Create image button will write the *.raw file in the selected location, and you are ready to burn. Lots of extra options are available for people who are more familiar with CD burning in the Data-CD-Creator Properties menu item. Things like Multi-Session, XDA, filename conventions and so on. Again, Data-CD-Creator supports the dragging of shadows of folders to itself, and will copy the contents during the create image phase. Nesting apparently doesn't work with shadows, and contrary to my expectation, the burned CD will have the shadowed folders contents, but not the folder itself.


Think traps. Think frozen program manager. After consulting the author it appears that the frozen program manager is a rarely occurring and soon to be fixed bug, and the traps I have experienced have not been experienced by users of other drives. Some of the traps I experienced seemed to be connected to the order certain tasks were performed in. While I doubt this is principally the fault of the package and more likely devices and drivers balking at being asked to do things out of sequence, it would be nice if the package warned you that you needed to load a disk via CD-R/W-Tools before attempting a burn or fixing the CD. It is very likely that all of the problems I experienced are a consequence of a known conflict between version 1.8a22 of cdrecord and the Yamaha 4416s, but I don't have access to any other drives for a performance comparison. Version 1.8a23 failed all of the basic tests with the Yamaha 4416s. Another potential pitfall is that the Data-CD-Creator can't (yet) tell you how much data is in it. This means that there is a real danger of data over runs and trashed CDs unless you are careful. The good news is that this feature is on the authors "to-do" list.

The Verdict

A conditional, but enthusiastic, thumbs up. Stability and idiot proofing are the major drawbacks right now. Once I got it up and running it was very easy to use, and didn't give me too much trouble. Given that all of the components are still beta, and many haven't even hit version 1.0 yet, this is a pretty amazing feat. On top of which, the whole business is free. Idiot proofing is high on the author's "to-do" list, and includes improving the online help and simplifying the installation and setup process. I also tried out RSJ CD Writer and am of the opinion that CDRecord/2 combined with Audio-CD-Creator and Data-CD-Creator is a better design. One major drawback of RSJ CD Writer is that your CD-R drive isn't accessible as a standard drive object, but is instead some sort of drive-like WORM device. It also doesn't seem to behave like a CD drive. This package should also be good news for people interested in purchasing RSJ, as the competition of an increasingly stable and usable package with some nice OS/2 integration should force them to lower their prices. For more information on the current status of CDRecord/2, Audio-CD-Creator and Data-CD-Creator, check out Chris Wohlgemuth's page - http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Sector/5785/cdrecord/cdrecordmain.htm.

Application/Software reviewed and mentioned in this article includes the following:

CDRecord/2 - Freeware - http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Sector/5785/cdrecord/cdrecord-1_8a22_os2.zip

Latest version - http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Sector/5785/cdrecord/cdrecord-1_8a23_os2.zip
Audio-CD-Creator - Freeware - http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Sector/5785/cdrecord/audioc dcreator_031b.zip
EMX Runtime v 0.9d - Freeware - ftp://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/dev/emx/v0.9d/emxrt.zip
ASPIROUT - Freeware - ftp://ftp.leo.org/pub/comp/os/os2/leo/drivers/misc/aspir101.zip

Gordon Williams is a graduate student at the University of Washington in Seattle, studying mathematics.

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