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5. Applications

This section briefly lists some of the key applications related to CD-ROM that are available under Linux. Check the Linux Software Map for the latest versions and archive sites.

5.1 Audio CD Players

Several programs are available for playing audio CDs, either through a headphone jack or an attached sound card.


a graphical player running under X11 and supporting a CD database and many other features


an interactive text-mode player


a simple X11 based player


a very simple command line based player


an X11/Motif based player


another X11 based player for Mitsumi drives


another X11 based player, bundled with sound mixer and VU meter programs


command line tools for playing audio CDs

Some of these programs are coded to use a specific device file for the CD-ROM (e.g. /dev/cdrom). You may be able to pass the correct device name as a parameter, or you can create a symbolic link in the /dev directory. If sending the CD output to a sound card, you may wish to use a mixer program to set volume settings or select the CD-ROM input for recording.

5.2 PhotoCD

PhotoCDs use an ISO-9660 file system containing image files in a proprietary format. Not all CD-ROM drives support reading PhotoCDs.

The hpcdtoppm program by Hadmut Danisch converts PhotoCD files to the portable pixmap format. It can be obtained from or as part of the PBM (portable bit map) utilities, available on many archive sites (look for "pbm" or "netpbm").

The photocd program by Gerd Knorr can convert PhotoCD images into Targa or Windows and OS/2 bitmap files.

The same author has written the program xpcd, an X11-based program for handling PhotoCD images. You can select the images with a mouse, preview the image in a small window, and load the image with any of the five possible resolutions. You can also mark a part of the Image and load only the selected part. Look for these packages at

The ImageMagick image file manipulation program also supports PhotoCD files. It is available from

5.3 Mkisofs

Eric Youngdale's mkisofs package allows creating an ISO-9660 file system on a hard disk partition. This can then be used to assist in creating and testing CD-ROM file systems before mastering discs.

The tools for actually writing data to writable CD-ROM drives tend to be vendor specific. They also require writing the data with no interruptions, so a multitasking operating system like Linux is not particularly well suited.

5.4 ISO-9660 Utilities

These are some utilities for verifying the format of ISO-9660 formatted discs; you may find them useful for testing suspect CDs. The package can be found at They were written by Bill Siegmund and Rich Morin.

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