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
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
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/ .