cdw man page

cdw — front-end for cdrecord, mkisofs, growisofs and other tools


cdw [--help] [--version] [--enable-dvd-rp-dl] [--escdelay=X]


cdw is a front-end for command-line tools used for burning data CD and DVD discs and for related tasks. The tools are: cdrecord/wodim, mkisofs/genisoimage, growisofs, dvd+rw-mediainfo, dvd+rw-format, xorriso. You can also use cdw to rip tracks from your audio CD to raw audio files. Limited support for copying content of CD and DVD discs to image files is also provided. cdw can utilize md5sum program to verify correctness of writing ISO image to CD and DVD disc.

cdw uses ncurses library to build user-friendly interface and it can be used in UNIX terminal window and in terminal emulator (like konsole, rxvt or gnome-console) in X environment.

cdw supports only ISO9660 filesystem for optical media. Other filesystem for optical media are not supported nor recognized.

Supported Media

Scope of supported features depends on which tools are installed on end user's system. Full list of supported media and actions is listed below.


ripping audio tracks to raw audio files


writing files and ISO images (single- and multi-session) with cdrecord/wodim and xorriso; copying content of first session to image file on your hard disc


writing files and ISO images (single- and multi-session), erasing (erasing only TOC or blanking whole disc) with cdrecord/wodim and xorriso; copying content of first session to image file on your hard disc


writing files and ISO images (multi-session, but without closing disc, or single-session) with cdrecord/wodim, dvd+rw-tools and xorriso


writing files and ISO images (multi-session or single-session); erasing, formatting - quick or slow (full) method; dvd+rw-tools only. WARNING: multiple blanking may quickly render your DVD-RW unusable.


writing files and ISO images (both writing to disc from scratch and appending data), without closing disc; blanking disc, but takes lots of time, and you don't need to do it anyway - you can always start writing to the same disc like you would write to blank disc. DVD+RW can be handled by both cdrecord/wodim and dvd+rw-tools.


there is now partial support for DVD+R DL discs: cdw can burn ISO image and files in single session. User has to explicitly enable it by passing "--enable-dvd-rp-dl" command line argument to cdw; cdw can handle DVD+R DL discs only using dvd+rw-tools; this feature is very incomplete and possibly buggy.

Dual-layer media other than DVD+R DL are not yet supported. DVD-RAM, Blu-ray, HD-DVD discs are not supported.


You can write data discs either by using previously created ISO image file, or by selecting files from hard drive and writing them directly to disc. cdw provides UI elements for both actions.

First action before creating new ISO image or writing files to disc is selecting files from your hard drive. You can do this by selecting "Add files" in left-hand menu. You will be presented with simple file selector. Use Up/Down arrows or Page Up/Page Down keys to move, Enter key to change current directory, Space key to select files or directories. Selected items will be added to list displayed in cdw window. Use Escape key to close file selector window. The selector window shows you all files and directories (including hidden files) in current directory, in alphabetical order. You will see file size information for every file on the list. You can also delete previously selected files from list: select "Delete files" from the menu and use Up/Down arrow keys to move and Delete key to delete highlighted item. Use Escape key when you finish deleting files from list of selected files.

Now you can select "Create image" from left-hand menu. cdw will display a wizard window where you can change most common options, and where you can select path to target ISO9660 image file on your hard disc.

You can also select "Write files to disc" to write selected files to optical disc. If you select the option, cdw will display a wizard dialog window, in which you can adjust most common options related to burning files to disc.

If you want to write ISO image file to optical disc, use "Write image to disc" option in left hand menu. You will be presented with file picker dialog that allows you to select existing ISO image file from your hard disc. After that cdw will display a wizard window, where you can modify most common options available for burning a disc.

cdw allows you to verify correctness of this operation by checking a digest (e.g. md5 sum) of ISO file and of track written to disc. You can request this by checking "Verify write" checkbox that will appear in write wizard. Please note that this checkbox is visible only when you are writing ISO file to empty CD or DVD disc. This function is still experimental. Make sure that a program for calculating digests is installed on your machine. cdw supports following programs: md5sum sha1sum sha224sum sha256sum sha384sum sha512sum

Another operation you can perform is erasing optical disc - CD-RW, DVD-RW (both Sequential Recording and Restricted Overwrite) or DVD+RW. You can do this by selecting "Erase disc" option in cdw left-hand menu. Please note that extensive erasing of DVD-RW may render your disc unusable if used extensively. In case of CD-RW and DVD-RW you will be asked what type of blanking you want to perform. You can choose fast mode or full mode. First one doesn't take too much time (in case of CD-RW it only erases table of content of your disc), second one can be very time-consuming, depending on disc size and selected speed.

When you will attempt to blank DVD-RW disc, blanking wizard will display dropdown that allows you to choose mode (format) of DVD-RW disc: Restricted Overwrite or Sequential Recording.

cdw can be useful when you want to copy your data CD or DVD to ISO image on your hard drive. You do this by selecting "Read disc" option from left-hand menu. This function allows you to copy first track from your data CD or DVD. Reading second and following tracks from data discs, and reading discs written in mixed mode (one or more data tracks + audio tracks) discs are not supported.

You can also use cdw to copy your audio CD to separate files (each track will be written to separate file). You do this by selecting "Read disc" option from menu. cdw can't convert audio tracks to any popular audio format. The tracks are written to files in the same format as they appear on CD (2 channels, 44100 samples per second, 16 bit signed PCM, little endian (intel)). The file names have following name format: track_xx.raw (where xx is track number). You can convert raw track file to wav file using e.g. sox command:

sox -c 2 -r 44100 -L -2 -s track_name.raw -t wav track_name.wav

The last operation that cdw offers is verification of data. You can use it for two purposes:

  • calculating a digest of selected file from hard disc;
  • comparing selected file with content of first track on optical disc; The second option also utilizes digest tool (e.g. md5sum), but may not work correctly, so it is marked in cdw as "Experimental".

cdw has Configuration window, accessed by selecting "Configuration" item in left-hand menu. The window allows you to set up some options for tools used by cdw, and for cdw itself. Configuration window has following tabs (you can access them using keys F2-F5):

  • Log and misc - contains options related to log file in which cdw logs its operations, and to some aspects of behavior of cdw.
  • Tools - options in this tab allow you to select tools from your operating system that will be used to create ISO9660 images, burn data to disc etc. You can safely leave "Configure tools manually" checkbox unmarked.
  • Audio - contains options related to ripping audio CDs.
  • Hardware - probably will be visited only once, when you use cdw for the first time or when you change your hardware configuration. Here you can set paths to your devices used by cdw.

All options available in Configuration window are described below, in Configuration section.

You have to use F9 or F10 key to save any changes made in Configuration window and close the window. To close Configuration window without saving changes use Escape key. Values from "Tools" tab are saved only temporarily, they aren't stored in permanent configuration file.

You can control cdw using application's menu (visible on left side of screen), or using hotkeys.

Main menu items

  • Add files: Select files and directories that you want to write to optical disc or to ISO image on your hard disc. Press Space to select a file or directory, use Up and Down arrows to move on the list, press Enter key to change directory, press Escape key to close file selection dialog.
  • Delete files: List of selected files is displayed on the right side of the screen. If you want to delete files from the list, select this button and use Delete key to delete a file, Up and Down arrows to move on the list or press Escape to end deleting.
  • Write files to disc: write selected files to optical disc that is currently in drive. You will be warned if there is no disc in drive, the drive is not ready or the disc is mounted.
  • Create image: write selected files to ISO image file. The ISO image file can be selected in file picker window.
  • Write image to disc: write ISO image file to optical disc. The ISO image file can be selected in file picker window. You will be warned if there is no disc in drive, the drive is not ready or the disc is mounted.
  • Read disc: Copy content of your single session data CD/DVD or audio CD to files on hard drive. In case of data CD/DVD discs cdw will create correct image file on your hard disc, but only for first track on disc, rest of tracks won't be read (cdw can't read them correctly). In case of audio CDs cdw will copy each audio track to separate raw audio file. You will have to recode the raw audio track files in order to play them in your media player.
  • Erase disc: Erase data (partially or fully) from rewritable disc (CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW) that is currently in drive. You can select mode of erasing CD-RW or DVD-RW: fast or full. You can't select mode of erasing of DVD+RW.
  • Verify data: Calculate digest of file selected from hard drive, or compare any file with first track of optical disc.
  • Configuration: Selecting this menu option will display cdw Configuration window, where you can set various options.
  • Quit: close cdw and return to your command line.

Keys (hotkeys, available in main cdw window)

  • F1, H, ? - Show this help: Display help window with list of hotkeys.
  • F9/F10 - Show license of this program: display cdw license.
  • C - Show Configuration window
  • D - Show information about disc: cdw will run external tool to get some meta-information about optical disc in your drive and display this information in text window.
  • E - Eject drive tray: open your optical drive tray (will close tray if it is already open).
  • F - Write selected files to disc: Write currently selected files to optical disc.
  • G - Read content of CD: Copy content of your audio or data CD to your hard drive.
  • I - Write ISO image to disc: Write ISO image to optical disc.
  • L - Show log of last operation: view file with record of latest operations.
  • R - Refresh information about disc: cdw will run external tool to get some meta-information about optical disc in your drive and will display short summary in lower-left part of main cdw window.
  • V - Verify data: calculate digest of selected file (and of first track on optical disc).
  • Q - Quit: close cdw and return to your command line


This section describes Configuration module available via "Configuration" button in left-hand menu in main cdw window. You have to press F9/F10 in Configuration window to save changes made in the window and exit or press Escape key to close configuration window without saving changes. Please note that changes made in "Tools" tab are saved only for current session with cdw.

  • Log and misc (first tab):

    • Log file path - path to file, in which cdw writes its messages and messages from external tools (mkisofs, cdrecord, growisofs, dvd+rw-mediainfo, xorriso). Specifying this path is obligatory.
    • Show log after actions - show the content of log file after some of actions performed by cdw.
    • ISO volume size - size of ISO filesystem that you want to create. Most often it is equal to capacity of optical disc that you want burn data to. This is a dropdown, from which you can select one of preselected values, or select "Custom value". This custom value can be entered below the dropdown.
    • Custom ISO volume size - size of ISO filesystem that you want to create. This is the place where you can enter nonstandard value of target ISO filesystem size.
  • Tools (second tab): First thing that you will see in this tab "Configure tools manually" checkbox, it is unchecked by default, and this is safe default value. In this state cdw select tools itself. If you check this checkbox you will be presented with six dropdowns: first three allow you to select tools or families of tools intended for specific tasks. Remaining dropdowns allow you to select paths to some tools used by cdw for some tasks. All these dropdowns are explained below.

    • "Tool for creating stand alone ISO9660 file" - here you select a tool used to create ISO9660 file saved on hard disc (stand-alone file). Depending on configuration of your software, here you can find mkisofs (genisoimage) and xorriso.
    • "Tools for handling CDs" dropdown - here you select a tool that will be used to burn data to CD/CD-RW discs and to erase CD-RW discs. Depending on configuration of your software, here you can find cdrecord (wodim) and xorriso.
    • "Tools for handling DVDs" dropdown -  here you select a tool that will be used to burn data to DVD discs and to erase DVD+/-RW discs. Depending on configuration of your software, here you can find dvd+rw-tools, cdrecord (wodim) and xorriso. Note that xorriso can be used only for DVD+/-R discs.
    • "Path to mkisofs" dropdown - here you can select one of implementations of mkisofs installed in your system (e.g. if you have mkisofs and genisoimage).
    • "Path to cdrecord" dropdown - here you can select one of implementations of cdrecord installed in your system (e.g. if you have cdrecord and wodim).
    • "Digest tool" - here you can select a tool used for calculating digest (checksum) - the tool is used e.g. during verification of burning of ISO9660 file to optical disc. md5sum tool is the default one, if found.

      Remember that these settings are saved only for your current session with cdw, and that the settings will be discarded when you close cdw.

  • Audio (third tab):

    • Audio output dir - path to directory, into which cdw will write raw audio tracks, ripped from audio CD.
  • Hardware (fourth tab):

    • "cdw should use this drive" dropdown - option allowing you to select one of detected drives, or to use path to drive entered manually ("custom path");
    • "Custom path to drive" - field in which you can specify your own path to a device, to be used when cdw can't autodetect all drives in your computer.
    • SCSI device - parameters describing your SCSI hardware, in following format: scsibus,target,lun (for a SCSI-emulated IDE CDRW: 0,0,0). It is used only by cdrecord and you should enter appropriate value only if cdrecord has problems with device path in form of '/dev/xxx'. Otherwise this field should be left empty. This option hasn't been tested, so use it at your own risk.


Command line options are following:

-h, -- help

displays information about invoking cdw and its options

-v, --version

displays cdw version and copyright information


enables very basic support for DVD+R DL discs


modifies delay time between pressing Escape key in cdw window and reaction to the key


  • cdw.conf: Configuration file, usually stored in $HOME/.cdw/ directory.
  • cdw.log: Log file, by default stored in $HOME/.cdw/ directory. Path to this file can be modified in Configuration window ("Log and misc" tab > 'Log file path' field).
  • cdw.colors: File with definition of color schemes used to customize interface of cdw. File is stored in $HOME/.cdw/ directory.
  • temporary files: cdw uses some small temporary files to store various information. They are usually created in /tmp directory. If everything goes well they are very short lived and are removed as soon as they are no longer needed.


  • HOME - cdw assumes that this variable exists and is set to valid user directory. If not, then user is asked to select some other 'base' directory.
  • PATH - cdw reads this environment variable to find directories with executable files. cdw will search in these directories for some tools.


cdw uses log file ($HOME/.cdw/cdw.log by default) to store information about actions performed. You can access this file using your file manager, or pressing 'L' key in cdw window. Read this file for any hints if you experience any problems.


There are still some bugs related to memory management.

cdw is developed and tested almost exclusively on x64 GNU/Linux, running cdw on other configurations may produce some platform-specific bugs. Currently I can't verify them in any way.

cdw still fails to detect some problems reported by wodim/cdrecord mkisofs/genisoimage or growisofs, although things have improved in latest few versions). Support for xorriso is brand new, so there is a lot error messages printed by xorriso, that cdw is unaware of, and will happily ignore them. It is recommended to read log file after every operation.

Copying data CDs to ISO image may finish with message "Problems occurred when copying tracks". This does not have to mean that output ISO file is corrupted: this be a sign of some low-level problems when reading from optical disc. Similar message displayed after ripping audio CD may mean that one or more track files created on your hard disc is corrupted and it is caused by invalid audio CD.

If you notice any other bugs please let me know. You can do this either using bug tracker on cdw project site ( or by sending me an e-mail:


cdw is currently developed by Kamil Ignacak ( First developer of cdw was Varkonyi Balazs (

See Also

cdrecord(1), mkisofs(8), growisofs(1), dvd+rw-mediainfo(1), dvd+rw-format(1), cdrdao, mybashburn, k3b(1), gnomebaker(1), xorriso(1), libisoburn1, libburn4, libcdio.


1 April 2012