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Feature: Desktop Software

For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

By Kurt Edelbrock on February 20, 2008 (9:00:00 AM)

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Brasero will replace Serpentine as the CD-writing utility in the upcoming April release of Ubuntu 8.10 (code-named Hardy Heron). Brasero extends the functionality of Serpentine to include data CD and DVD projects, file integrity checking, and multisession support.

Why replace Serpentine, a dead simple solution for burning audio CDs? It features tight integration into the GNOME Desktop Environment, with support for Rhythmbox playlists and drag and drop file management from Nautilus, as well as the ability to extract audio from video files. Unfortunately, the application has no support for creating data CDs. You can fill that void by using the native CD-writing capabilities inside Nautilus, but Nautilus offers limited options for data project creation.

Brasero builds upon the functional shortcomings of Serpentine through the addition of data CD and DVD support, along with image creation and burning. Its interface relies on clear dialogs and minimal waste of screen estate, though it isn't quite as intuitive as Serpentine -- for instance, there is no way to easily switch between adding files and adding Rhythmbox data without resorting to using the hot keys or reaching for the View menu. Brasero supports multiple back ends to power the burning process, such as cdrtools, growisofs, and Libburn. This maximizes hardware compatibility with a slew of different writing devices. Burning and copying is as quick as with any application -- Brasero includes on-the-fly CD and DVD recording for single- and multi-session projects. Its built-in audio previewing helps users make sure they pick the right song for the right album: you no longer have to worry about mixing up a song with another that has the same title.

While Brasero integrates well with GNOME, it lacks some of the functionality found in K3b. Some of the missing features are relatively trivial. For instance, native disc-ripping capabilities are best completed with a separate applications, such as Sound Juicer or DVD::Rip. By using a separate application, you can take advantage of a better allocation of memory resources, which is especially important with an aging machine. But some of the feature differences are more significant. K3b supports a wider variety of media types, including eMovix, VCD, and mixed-mode discs. It provides audio normalization and cutting, which can be helpful for users without a lot of knowledge about sound editing. K3b also includes the ability to select from a series of different filesystem types, which can be useful for ensuring compatibility across a variety of operating systems.

Yet K3b has some inherent downsides for Ubuntu and GNOME users that begin at installation. The program was written in C++ and relies on the Qt toolkit for its graphical interface, which may require extra packages be installed. Integration with GNOME leaves a lot to be desired -- in a recent test I performed on my fresh installation of Ubuntu Gutsy, Nautilus didn't automatically recognize the K3b project file extension, and the help feature required extra dependencies not calculated by aptitude. Also, the interface is relatively muddled: the large number of buttons present on the interface is reminiscent of burning software on a certain popular proprietary operating system. The extra dependencies degrade system performance when K3b is running. It is noticeably slower than both Serpentine and Brasero in a fresh installation of Ubuntu 7.10. Because of the large number of features included in K3b, it may make the burning process seem more complex for users than necessary.

Brasero is not without its own flaws. It lacks any built-in documentation included with the application, though some help is available on the Internet. Documentation could be helpful for Brasero for both new and experienced users, especially when it comes to the less intuitive features. Also, because there's no Preferences dialog, a help file might show users where they can locate options for specific features. Also, the file selection window, while preferable to a file tree, doesn't force the width of the screen to the correct size, so if the screen is too small, a user will only see half of the file window, and the slider arrows won't be activated as you might expect.

Yet Brasero is a better solution than Serpentine because it offers more functionality, and is better than K3b for simple data and audio burning projects that don't require complex features. The intuitive interface and Rhyhtmbox integration minimize time spent locating files and make it easy to finish projects quickly. Though Brasero doesn't have built-in documentation and has a few minor interface difficulties, it's the strongest CD- and DVD-burning application on GNOME. Anyone who needs only basic functionality should be able to use Brasero exclusively.

Kurt Edelbrock is a technology journalist, blogger, and university student. He writes for a variety of open source publications, and serves as a technical consultant for a large public university.

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on For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 58.65.172.241] on February 20, 2008 09:15 AM
Don't you mean Ubuntu 8.04?

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Screenshot

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.241.15.254] on February 20, 2008 10:03 AM
Something looks significantly broken in the "Brasero disk burning dialog" screenshot.

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: big bear on February 20, 2008 10:14 AM
Actually, for better features on the Gnome Desktop of Ubuntu ( or any Gnome based distro ) one might prefer Gnomebaker over Brasero any day. more features, more consistent performance.

Big Bear

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 84.0.219.172] on February 20, 2008 10:18 AM
I tested Brasero, and I think k3b still is the better choice. Brasero is too simple for me, and k3b has more functionality.

"Because of the large number of features included in K3b, it may make the burning process seem more complex for users than necessary."

This is your opinion, but for me k3b isn't complex. However, you can press: Enter, Enter, Enter

I don't care the extra dependency thing. I use gtk and qt based application too. You know I try to use the application which is more suitable for me. Memories, disk space, CPUs are not so pricey nowadays.

Yep, that's mine opinion only. ;-)

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.134.124.147] on February 20, 2008 12:05 PM
no thanks. k3b still wins hands down.

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.175.165.2] on February 20, 2008 01:36 PM
yeah, like the disk size on the screenshot. Is it Blue-ray 8.0?

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 96.28.108.237] on February 20, 2008 02:54 PM
Where can I get these multi-zettabyte CD-Rs? I want to start an ARCHIVE the internet project!

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 209.78.90.242] on February 20, 2008 04:11 PM
I've been trying to use Brasero on OpenSUSE 10.3 now for a couple months because I like the idea of using integrated Gnome apps, and it has a long way to go before it competes on the same level as k3b. It is still very half baked and buggy. k3b has been in production for years and has great community support and plug-ins. Comparing Brasero to it really isnt fair. Maybe in 1-3 years we should revisit this topic.

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.84.13.191] on February 20, 2008 04:47 PM
'No preferences dialog'
Must be a Gnome application. I kid, I kid, heheheh!

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K3b rocks

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.90.11.226] on February 20, 2008 06:28 PM
I'm typing this on an Ubuntu system right now, and I'd have to say that K3b has the CD-burning space well-covered. Any Debian-based system will transparently install any needed dependencies, and the disk space of these libs is hardly an issue. I think the Ubuntu folks should just make K3b the default.

(then again, it seems bizarre to me that Ubuntu chose Gnome as the default for a desktop aimed at the masses).

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 196.200.1.146] on February 20, 2008 07:23 PM
I've never needed more than brasero offers, and YES, I've found K3b to be overkill. No preference dialog? Come to think of it, Evince also doesn't have "preferences" but I've never needed one. Why don't people see that some things can be done away with, Like the preferences dialog in many programs. Its absence doesn't make brasero immutable.

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 219.89.81.142] on February 20, 2008 08:33 PM
Like many others I think k3b rocks and its one of the forst things I install onto a ubuntu machine.

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 91.11.3.172] on February 21, 2008 10:31 AM
I will still use K3b because Brasero messed up every CD/DVD image in Ubuntu 7.10 I burned so far. If it doesn't do such a simple thing, why should I use it? Isn't K3b open source? Why doesn't somebody port K3b to Gnome with - Beginner - Advanced - Profi Options? :) What do I know? I am just a simple user.

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 211.28.113.198] on February 22, 2008 12:31 AM
Brasero has been buggy for me in the past but seems quite stable now. I've used K3B for about 5 years, but now Brasero seems to do what I need so haven't used K3B recently. Normalisation would be the only thing lacking,

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.162.182.55] on February 22, 2008 02:59 PM
I just can't stand the interface. The amount of space given to the file browser is far too small to see what I'm doing. It should be in a separate window that opens when you select files and closes afterward.

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For GNOME CD burning, viva Brasero

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 137.229.74.206] on February 27, 2008 03:34 AM
Brasero is interesting. Gnomebaker is a lot better though. Gnomebaker is at least similar to capabilities when lightly compared to k3b. Gnomebaker on the other hand still can't do that much more than brasero anyway. Who these days would stick with using serpentine for burning media that from this review appears to only be audio cd's and nothing else. Wow, serpentine sounds pretty useless for burning anything other than audio cd's, and burning everything but audio cd's is generally what people do these days (serpentine according to this review use to be the default media burner?). Gnome needs to pick up the ball, and get out some real time burning software. Talk about lacking very bad in an a specific area of gnome where all other areas of gnome are covered very good.

Who cares about the extra dependencies when installing k3b, those are easily resolved (even rpm based distros can resolve dependencies now), and k3b in gnome is not that much slower than running it in kde. Porting k3b to gnome would certainly fix the problem of having an actually useful and good media burner for the gnome desktop. Everyone knows this isn't going to happen though, unless somebody who knows how to port starts on this idea. The idea of using a desktop environment's native applications is a novel and addictive habit. But, when a desktop environment has some lacking software? You can bite the bullet and install some software from another desktop environment's software suite (everyone eventually does it some time). Or you can suck hard with the mediocrity from said desktop environment's currently lacking program.

Also what's with the idea that ubuntu's main choice of desktop environment is ubuntu? Unfortunately people who grab ubuntu who happen to be those first time "nix" (sometimes even more experienced users do this too) users don't do there studying and just grab only one of the choices offered by ubuntu which happens to be the one called ubuntu. There is gnome based ubuntu, kubuntu if you want kde as the default desktop, xubuntu if you like xfce for the desktop, etc. Just install k3b if you need more out of brasero than what it currently can't provide no matter what your desktop environment.

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