Ratboy's CD Writers on SGIs

updated 10/09/2000


Do you have the right machine? (READ THIS TOO)

CD formats writable with this software

Which CD writer to buy

How to hook it up

Installing the software

Making Data CD's

Hints, Tips, and Known Problems

Audio CD software installation and use


The software and advice you'll find here is given without any warranty or support! If you want supported software, please look into HyCD at http://www.cdr.com/.

There are also commercial DVD/CD-RW solutions available for IRIX from Tracertech and Luminex:

How hard is the stuff provided here to use? If you have an "O" machine (O2, Octane, Origin, Onyx) things are pretty easy - just install the software via the web page and use it. Older machines may require you to make some changes to text files that set kernel parameters, but the procedure is pretty well outlined here.

Using the software may require a little thought on your part. The basic process is to create an image of what you want to write to CD on a disk first, then write the image to a CD. You will have to read these notes and figure out which format you want to use, how much space you'll need to create the disk image, and how you want the CD data to appear when you read it back later.

If you're a button pusher and just want to copy data to take from one place to another conveniently, you should be able to easily glean the 2 or 3 things you need to make simple data CD's. If you want to create audio CD's or get into more complicated formats, you will probably have to do some more reading and learn to use a few unix commands.

The information on these pages relates to operation on SGI IRIX systems, even though much of the software can be compiled and run on other platforms. If you need the software for another hardware platform or OS, please check with the original package providers (they're linked in the section on the packages).

Do you have the right machine?

This software and instructions should work with anything that is capable of running an IRIX version of 6.2 or greater, which includes:
  • Indigo(R4k) / Indigo2 / Indy / Challenge S (see notes)
  • Challenge L / Challenge DM
  • O2 / Octane / Origin
  • Crimson (maybe)
  • If you have an earlier machine or operating system, the underlying command-line program cdrecord will possibly still run and build, but you're on your own.

    Here are the machines we've personally (here in Oregon) sat down at and really, really used with this software:

    Which CD Formats Can Be Written?

    The following CD formats are writable with the software in this package: Note that you can create SGI inst'able (loadable automatically from swmgr and icons) by either duplicating SGI CD's or creating your own in ISO9660 format following a few conventions (see info on writing data CD's). If you want to make SGI bootable cdroms, you must select the Use dd option in xisofs (or use dd to read the cd source into a file on a disk).

    You may also be able to duplicate CD's in other formats with the Use dd option added to xisofs We haven't tried it. cdrecord supports other formats, and you can use the command line to run the program directly if you'd like.

    Which CD Writer to Buy?

    Since the base utility used in this package is Joerg Schilling's cdrecord, you should use one of the writers he recommends (or see the summary for this release here).

    We bought our Philips 2600 by looking on www.pricewatch.com under Storage/CD Recorders, then finding the cheapest price. The CD writer must have a SCSI interface, and if you pick one not on Mr. Schilling's list, you're on your own!

    Most CD writer manufacturers are now making products that will also burn re-writable media. We're not sure why, since CD write-once media is so cheap, unless the price point needed to be moved up again. In any case, you should be able to burn normal write-once CD media in a writer that handles re-writable media. You will probably want to avoid re-writable media when creating CDs for SGI machines and many current or older CD drives, as we hear they may not be readable (due to optical reasons in the drives).

    Here's a list of the CD writers we've seen work with our own eyes:

    Here are CD writers people have sent in information on: You can use the eject command and icon menu with the cd writers, but that's about it. These drives don't support the "revert" command which IRIX requires (see /var/sysgen/master.d/scsi). You can expect to see the following console errors when you put media into the drive:
    unix: dks1d4vol: [Alert] Illegal request: Invalid field in parameter list (asc=0x26, asq=0x0), (data byte 9), Block #0
    mediad: DIOCSELECT failed on CD-ROM /dev/rdsk/dks1d4vol: I/O error
    In our experience, these errors have caused no other system problems.

    How to Hook It Up

    Since only SCSI drives are supported, you'll have to have a SCSI connection available to attach your CD writer to. If you are putting the writer on an external bus, follow normal procedures for daisy chaining in an additional SCSI device. Don't forget termination on the last SCSI device, and keep the overall length of your external SCSI chain to a minimum. (We have our Philips drive on an external O2 bus with 2 disks and a terminal multiplexer, but the cables between devices are all less than 2 feet long.)

    If you are attaching to the bus where your system disk resides on an older machine (external built-in bus connection on Indy/Indigo/ChallengeS, internal drive bay on Indigo2), you will want to read the notes (here) and apply the suggested kernel change before attaching the CD writer.

    Software and Instructions

    Click on the links below to load the software: NOTE: perltk requires eoe.sw.svr4net although the inst image hasn't been rebuilt to reflect this dependency yet. If you get "libnsl.so" errors, you need to install eoe.sw.svr4net from your first or foundation1 IRIX install CD.

    The IRIX software manager should fire up automatically and install the right things by default from these packages. Note that by default, cdrecord needs to be run as root. Since xisofs starts cdrecord, it too must be run as root by default. You can follow the instructions for making your cdwriter writable by normal users on Mr. Schilling's page mentioned above.

    PATCH for fw_perltk:

    If you're having perl troubles when starting xisofs, you may need a newer version of perltk.
    This solves problems resulting from installing newer verisons of perl
    DO NOT install this patch on 6.2/6.3/6.4 IRIX - this was built for IRIX 6.5.X. A version
    which will run on all IRIX 6.[2-5][.X] will replace this when our intern finds her other tasks
    too odious.
    This version of perltk cleans up some visual discomfort in the previous version, too, so you
    may want to download it and the newer version of perl linked here:



    gcombust can now be found on the SGI freeware site: http://freeware.sgi.com

    If you have problems with xisofs, or would like to use a more updated application, please give
    it a try. Note that it uses the same applications (cdrecord/mkisofs) underneath the GUI, so you
    should not experience difficulties with things that worked under xisofs.

    Some notes on using gcombust:

    When you load the software, be fore-warned that you'll need a bunch of libraries from the freeware
    site that are not bundled in the gcombust package:
    I would advise having your freeware CD's handy, or save the tardist files from the freeware site
    into a directory, untar them, then run swmgr or inst and install from that directory.

    gcombust seems a little tweaky at times; I've gotten write errors under medium system loads
    that I hadn't seen with xisofs/cdrecord, or with using cdrecord directly.  Having said that,
    gcombust is nicely layed-out, and has some features beyond xisofs.

    Data CD Creation Instructions

    The audio packages aren't here now- I'd advise using gcombust!

    Audio - New Utilities for audio cd creation (requires cdrecord from above):

    Audio utility package with

    PC utilities for making liners and inserts (run under SoftWindows/Citrix/WinDD)
    Audio CD Instructions

    Useful Links

    Questions/comments to <rickv@sgi.com>
    This page and software packaging and testing were originally done by James Neal (Ratboy), former SGI Intern in Portland, OR.