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Portable CD-Writers, CD, DVD and Linux


Notebooks with integrated CD-RW

There are many laptops pre-equipped with DVD/CD-RW Combo drives now. Usually they work fine with Linux. See the CD-Writer HOWTO.

Mobile CD-RWs

According to the German magazine CT 7/2000 p. 154 (and other sources from the WWW) the following mobile CD writers are available:

  • Addonics: Pocket CD-RW: PCMCIA port, works with Linux. Likai Liu <liulk_at_bu.edu> reported: "I use model number AEPCDRW4X. The PCMCIA card might have difficulty getting recognized by the PCMCIA-CS package if the package is too old, but using cardctl ident and adding an entry to /etc/pcmcia/config.opts to bind the device with the generic ide-cs driver should do.
    Having ide-scsi to handle the device is tricky. Contrary to general suggestion of passing hdx=ide-scsi to kernel parameter, PCMCIA devices are not loaded at boot time, so this method will fail. A feasible way is to add a line in /etc/modules.conf that reads options ide-cd ignore=hdx where you must figure out what hdx is after you plug in your CD-RW device.
    This device is working with some quarks. Sometimes after fixation, the device doesn't inform cdrecord that it has finished, and cdrecord always thinks that it's still fixating until some timeout. However, the CD-R that is created is usable. Also, I'm also trying to figure out why after I unplug the device, sg's list of scsi devices doesn't get updated properly.
    However this unit has always had quirks with MicroSoft-Windows too. I guess it is because they told me I should use external power adapter, but I just used the power supplied by the PCMCIA card, which is only marginally enough for the unit to operate. ;-) Newer units should be able to use power from PCMCIA without problems.
  • Archos: MiniCD RW: PCMCIA port, Linux status unknown.
  • Argosy: CD-Rewriter RW850P: PCMCIA port, should work with Linux.
  • Argosy: CD-Rewriter RW860: USB port, Linux status unknown.
  • Freecom: Portable CD-RW recorder (the bigger model): different interfaces (parallel port, USB, IEEE1394/Firewire, PCMCIA), for the parport see this posting and other threads in the archive.
  • Freecom: Traveller CD-RW recorder (the slim model): different interfaces (parallel port, USB, IEEE1394/Firewire, PCMCIA), for the parport see this posting and other threads in the archive. PCMCIA works [Philip Nienhuis <pr.nienhuis_at_hccnet.nl>] other interfaces unknown.
  • Freecom: Portable CD-RW: different interfaces (parallel port, USB, IEEE1394/Firewire, PCMCIA), for the parport see this posting and other threads in the archive.
  • Hewlett-Packard - HP: 8210e: USB, Linux works, see the USB-CD-Writer-HOWTO by Thomas Jaeger. There is a Kernel option for HP 8200e in the USB storage section.
  • Hewlett-Packard - HP: 9210e, SCSI-2: Linux status unknown, should work
  • Hewlett-Packard - HP: M820e: PCMCIA, 8x, rewriter, "KME" card (Kyushu Matsushita Electronics) see also PCMCIA Message Forum. At least another SCSI cards works: "The PCMCIA card in question carries the label 'CD-RW PC Card'. Nothing else (besides HP's logo, of course). There is no technical specification. There is a switch on the card with two possible positions. One is labelled 'CardBus'. This should be the position for Windows 9x, according to the Setup - Instruction. The other position is labelled '16 bit' , for Windows NT. I've tried both positions and loaded all possible SCSI modules under Linux without success. Then I switched to ADAPTEC's SlimSCSI 1460D card and everything works fine with the aha152x_cs - module loaded." See Ninja driver (nin_cs) and KME PCMCIA card, too. Only one terminated SCSI2 connector, so must be the last device on the chain.
    A report from Olivier Petschulat <petschulat_at_cityweb.de>:
    I downloaded the NinjaSCSI31.0.1 (for 2.2.x kenels) and compiled it, but had to change the following: client/nin_cs.c lines 114 and 3376 from
            #if KERNEL_VERSION(2,3,99) > LINUX_VERSION_CODE
            #if (VERSION(2,3,99) > LINUX_VERSION_CODE)
    then I added
            #include <linux/proc_fs.h>
    since PROC_SCSI_SCSI is used on line 117 but not defined. After compiling, making the adjustments to the /etc/pcmcia/config file mentioned in doc/nin_cs/README.nin_cs.eng and rebooting the HP-SCSI card was recognized! It detects the cd writer properly and I've used cdrecord to burn a couple of CDRs already. I admit that I have trouble reading CDs with it - but since I have a built-in DVD-ROM I don't mind at all! See also Linux and the HP M820e CDRW - HOWTO.
    Bart van Beek reported: " ... when using the 2.6.14 kernel with pci-hotplugging and the ninja32_cs module with the card in cardbus mode it did get it to work perfectly. The ninja32_cs module is now a part of the kernel so it is easily compiled.
  • Iomega: ZipCD: USB, there is a model ZIPCD 4x650 mentioned in the compatibility list of the CD-Writer HOWTO, don't know whether this refers to the portable model.
  • Micro Solutions: Backpack CD-RW: PC card and parallel port. The parallel port version "works with the [binary only] driver from Micro Solutions (website out of business). Writing at 2x works great, but 4x can under-run sometimes. Reading CDs and playing audio CDs works too. .. A backpack driver also exists in the kernel, but I have had no luck with it yet." [SDA]
    "The current BACKPACK driver included in the Linux kernel was reverse engineered, and works with our older (5 series) drives over the parallel port. Almost all of our CD-R/RW drives use a newer chip inside (6 series). The new code released is a patch against the 2.4.2 kernel and should allow the use of the newer drives natively with linux over the parallel port." [KH] USB and PCMCIA drivers are under construction. [WH]
  • Multiport Duo:Port CD Writer: parallel port
  • Panasonic: KXL-RW10A: the CD-Writer HOWTO states "Matsushita is the Japanese name for Panasonic". "This panasonic is the same drive as the HP m820 and feature the same card, ... Actually it's a Panasonic OEM drive labelled by HP."
    [Aldo Bazan]
  • Panasonic: KXL-D745 CDR: PCMCIA, Linux status unknown
  • Ricoh: MP8040SE: Paulo Roma Cavalcanti <roma_at_lcg.ufrj.br> wrote: "It uses the same SCSI card as the HP M820E. In a nutshell, I burned a lot of CDs in 2x and 4x speed, ripped a lot of CDs using cdda2wav and lame, and listened to the music directly using cdda2wav. However, if I try to read a file, say with 800MB, my computer freezes. I am using the ninja driver nin_cs-1.0.2, RedHat 6.2 (kernel and pcmcia-cs 3.1.19. My conclusion: for burning no problems, but you have to have another CD Rom for reading."
  • SONY: CD-RW CRX-75A-RP EU: with PCMCIA port (for SONY VAIO laptops), , works with the pcmcia-cs package 3.1.30 (tested with kernel 2.2.19). You need to switch the PCMCIA card to 16bit (there is a little slider on the side), then pcmcia services will automatically detect the CRX-75a as third (or fifth) ide device (hdc or hde). When you add "hdc=ide-scsi" as boot parameter for the kernel and start PCMCIA services, the device will be detected afterwards by "cdrecord -scanbus". Writing and re-writing works great with 4x speed, I didn't test reading speed (should be 12x). Without ide-scsi support it can be mounted as hdc (or hde) like a normal ATAPI cdrom.
  • Traxdata: CD-RW 24x: with PCMCIA or USB port, doesn't need external power supply, Linux status unknown
  • Yamaha: CDR-8424E: Linux status unknown

For Linux I would recommend a SCSI device (with PCMCIA SCSI adapter, see PCMCIA-CS before buying one), but I couldn't check this devices by myself. So I can't give any guarantee.

Portable DVD Writers

Christian Worm <cworm_at_gmx.net> reported: "I have used a Toshiba SD-R5002 IDE DVD-Burner with an external FireWire case (featuring an Oxford 911 chip).

CD Drives

There are more than these mobile (external) models out, but I haven't had time to check this yet. If you have further information please let me know. See CDROM-HOWTO by Jeff Tranter for Linux details.


See SUPPORTED.CARDS and the MobiliX PCMCIA Survey for more CD drives and further information.

  • Addonics: Pocket CD2000: CardBus, PCMCIA and USB port, Linux status unknown.
  • Archos: MiniCD: PCMCIA port, Linux status unknown, should work with Linux.
  • Argosy: CD986 32x: PCMCIA port, should work with Linux.
  • EXP-940 CD-ROM: from SUPPORTED.CARDS [ Some work, some do NOT! ]
  • EXP Traveler 620, 3220 CD-ROM: works see SUPPORTED.CARDS
  • Freecom: PC CARD CD F-PCCD-KIT-E: works with Linux (e.g. Debian Slink boot floppies).
  • Sony: portable CD drive: for Sony VAIO Series: PCGA-CD51, works with Linux.
  • Targus: PCMCIA 24x CD-ROM: Linux status unknown

Parallel Port

From the CDROM-HOWTO: "There are external storage devices, including CD-ROM drives, that attach to the parallel port of personal computers. In many cases the devices internally use an IDE interface in conjunction with an adaptor which interfaces the internal IDE bus to the PC parallel port. Linux has a parallel port IDE driver which supports most parallel port devices. At the time of writing it supported devices from the following vendors (as well as most no-name and clone drives compatible with these): ATEN, Avatar, DataStor, Fidelity International Technology, Freecom, Hewlett-Packard, Imation, KT Technology, KingByte Information Corp., Maxell, MicroSolutions, OnSpec, Shuttle Technology, SyQuest, and ValuStore. Additional information can be found here ."


You may connect these devices either by a SCSI PCMCIA card or an built-in SCSI port (e.g. HP OmniBook 800). All CD drives should work, but I could verify this for the Apple/Macintosh external CD drive only.

USB Port

No information yet :(

DVD Drives

  • Archos: MiniDVD: PCMCIA port, PCMCIA should work with Linux, CardBus version doesn't work.
  • ARGOSY: external DVD drive: PCMCIA port, PCMCIA should work with Linux, CardBus version doesn't work.
  • Sony: external DVD/CD-RW drive PCGA-CRWD1: Firewire port, Linux status unknown

Selfmade Devices

Put a Linux capable SCSI CD writer into a small SCSI box. This is a little heavy but kind of mobile anyway.


Please read also the CD-Writer HOWTO by Winfried Trümper and the CD-R FAQ . " As most CD-writers can be used to read CD-ROMs, too, you may want to read the Linux CDROM-HOWTO, the Linux SCSI HOWTO and the Linux Kernel HOWTO."

From the CD-Writer HOWTO: "You can safely assume that most newer IDE/ATAPI- and SCSI-writers work under Linux. Newer drives are mostly MMC-compliant and therefore supported. If the SCSI-version of a particular writer works, the IDE/ATAPI-version will most likely work and vice versa. However, some people want to get a warm and fuzzy feeling by reading the exact model of their writer in some sort of compatibilty list. That is the reason why I didn't throw the following list out of the HOWTO: ..."

"The detailed list of models which have been reported to work or not to work under various Unix-like operating systems is available online ."


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© Werner Heuser 1997-2015 · http://tuxmobil.org/portable_cdwr.html · last change Mon Nov 12 2007