The state of Win32 burning programs
The proprietary choices for optical disc burning on Windows are pretty obvious: at the fore, there’s Roxio’s offering, EZ Media Creator, and Nero’s offering, Nero Burning Rom. Having used Roxio’s v5 program long, long ago with my Hewlett-Packard 4x external CDRW drive, and having used Nero’s Burning Rom during the entirety of its v6 lifecycle (when it was one of the best offerings on the market), I’ve been disappointed to see most of these offerings turn into bloated creatures, invasive and slow.
Perhaps you want built-in picture managers, movie players, reencoders, editors, and every bang and whistle you can think of. If that’s your bag, baby, you’re more than welcome to shell out $80+ for a copy
Historically, frontends for Windows have been touch & go. Burnatonce, a freeware closed-source frontend, which two years ago was a great little minimalist project, has stagnated, as the developer has no clear roadmap for development or time to create one.
The functional but less-glamorous cdrtfe is another good solution, although my experiences with it have been limited.
Enter Infra Recorder
A relative newcomer on the scene, Infra Recorder is an open source program by Christian Kindahl, the author of TugZip2. Infra Recorder is similar in functionality to other frontends, but it also sports a really slick interface that makes use of the Tango icon set.
Infra Recorder can do the following:
- Create data CDs
- Create audio CDs
- Create mixed mode CDs
- Create data DVDs (dual layer, too)
- Create Video DVDs
- Dump CD to image
- Write any project to a disc image (.iso)
- Burn a disc image to a physical disc
I have yet to produce any coasters, although it may be also that my media is very good 3.
With regard to supported formats, we reach a somewhat tricky subject. Infra Recorder’s support for audio formats when burning is plugin-based. The default installation comes with support for WAV files, Ogg Vorbis, and WMA. MP3 support is available, using LAME code, but you have to download it separately because of legal troubles. This is unfortunate, but it’s not a particularly difficult process: you merely download the Zip file and extract
irLame.irc into the
Codec directory of your Infra Recorder installation.
Technically speaking, any format could be supported as long as it uses Infra Recorder’s plugin schema. I talked with Christian, who said that he wants to support FLAC by default in future versions. I would like to see community involvement in terms of extra installable codecs, but so far Infra Recorder seems to be laboring in obscurity, and unfortunately it changes enough with every release that the codecs need to be updated every time, as well. Once the project stabilizes, and gains some recognition, I think (hope) that user contributions will start coming in.
As you can see from the screenshots, Infra Recorder’s graphical metaphor is nothing groundbreaking: it sticks to the sort of interface used by most of its predecessors. Which is not to say that it’s bad, certainly: it sports a clean, uncluttered look, it has a great icon set (I would prefer to see the size of the toolbar be adjustable, though), and it allows for very handy integration into the Windows shell. The configuration options, while limited, currently allow for tweaking of FIFO buffer size, as well as an activation of file association and an Explorer extension.
Another feature, which I don’t generally take advantage of, is Infra Express, a small window which allows for the simple selection of a project template. All this really does is then launch Infra Recorder proper, and not a scaled-down filepicker dialogue, as is the case with Nero Express.
As an added bonus for those of you running 64-bit versions of Windows, Infra Recorder comes in a 64-bit version, as well (as of v0.42)
Infra Recorder is, I think, the best (certainly the most attractive) cdrtools frontend under active development. If you don’t specifically need some feature of a bloated, expensive proprietary suite, I see no reason why you shouldn’t download this right now.
- See LWN’s excellent article[↩]
- TugZip is a freeware general-purpose archiving/compression program. However, it’s stagnation since Fall 2005 has caused it to be very problematic to use, which is why, as of this writing, it is still not present in my Free Software pages. Mr. Kindahl assures his forum members that he is hard at work on version 4.0, which will be open source.[↩]
- Taiyo Yuden, for those of you who are curious, makes the best optical media, no argument[↩]