K3b is a CD/DVD burning program for the KDE desktop environment on Linux/Unix systems. It works as a frontend to the widespread cdrtools command-line package and as such supports most common hardware. The name originally stood for KDE 3 Burner but is now just a name. The goal for K3b is to make an easy-to-use but powerful GUI tool for creating data, audio, and video CDs and DVDs.

K3b supports the usual standard CD formats: ISO9660 data CDs, Red Book audio CDs, and VCDs and SVCDs, plus data and video DVDs. It can burn from existing CDs and DVDs, from files on the hard disk, or from disk images. In addition to these basic formats it supports the creation of mixed-mode audio/data CDs, and bootable eMovix CDs and DVDs. This last deserves further comment: eMovix is a small CD-based Linux distribution that, when burned to a CD with video files, plays the videos automatically on boot. K3b is presently the only general-purpose CD-burning program that supports eMovix.

K3b's interface is simple and is somewhat inspired by Adaptec Easy CD Creator. Its main window is divided into two panes; one of the panes contains a filesystem browser and the other has a tabbed list of all of the current 'projects' or CD layouts being edited. Files can be dragged to and from the projects and a bar at the bottom of the window shows the amount of space used and available on the disc. A menu provides more specialised actions such as directly copying a CD, erasing a CD-RW, and burning directly from an image. It can burn both ordinary ISO images and images in BIN/CUE format, the latter being rarely supported under Linux.

K3b can burn audio CDs from a variety of formats, including WAV, MP3, and Ogg Vorbis, and supports plugins for formats not included in the base distribution. It can normalize audio files and write CD-Text information to the disc. It also has the ability to rip audio CDs to the same formats that are supported for reading, and understands any CD-Text encoded on the source CD.

K3b integrates well into the KDE desktop. It comes with Konqueror plugins that permit files to be selected in Konqueror and transferred directly into a K3b data CD project. Drag and drop from other KDE applications is supported, and KDE components can be used as K3b plugins.

As the permissions for CD-burning on Unix-like systems can be complicated, or restricted to only allow the root user to burn CDs, K3b comes with a separate program, K3bSetup, that plugs into the KDE Control Centre and sets up the permissions to allow normal use of K3b. This program runs as root and adjusts the permissions of the programs and devices to allow all or some of the normal users on the system to freely use the CD burning hardware.

K3b is considered by many to be the best CD burning program available for *nix systems. Simple and easy to use without being bare-bones and inflexible, it rivals popular Windows software such as Nero Burning ROM, and completely overshadows older frontends such as X-CD-Roast and gcombust. The project hit version 1.0 in March 2007, finally satisfying the exacting standards of its author, Sebastian Trueg. The homepage for the K3b project is http://www.k3b.org/ .

This writeup is copyright 2004 D.G. Roberge and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence. Details can be found at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ .

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