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Review: NeroLINUX 2.0

By Matt Moen on April 05, 2005 (8:00:00 AM)

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There's a growing trend for traditionally Windows-centric software companies to release Linux versions of their products. Nero AG recently decided to jump on the bandwagon by releasing a Linux port of their very popular CD burning software. In this review I'll take a look at what it offers and how it compares to K3b, an established Linux CD writing application.

About NeroLINUX

There are other CD burning programs for Windows, but Nero has the "it just works" reputation. When I heard about their Linux port I was pleasantly surprised and curious as to how it stacked up against K3b, the open source "CD Kreator," which has its own "it just works" reputation in the Linux world.

Installing NeroLINUX

NeroLINUX comes with .deb and .rpm packages. I installed the .deb on my Debian Sarge box, and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the packaging. I'm not a Debian packaging expert, but it seems to mostly follow the Debian packaging policy, and added menu items to GNOME as well as Debian's universal menu creation scheme which supports all available window managers. According to the manual, it's supposed to support KDE menus as well.

Running NeroLINUX

When I first tried using NeroLINUX, I was running a 2.4 series Linux kernel. The very detailed manual stepped me through the numerous changes required to get NeroLINUX to operate under a 2.4 kernel (including adding boot-time arguments to my GRUB or LILO configuration and rebooting). Unfortunately, NeroLINUX still couldn't detect my DVD burner. After about an hour of wrestling with the documentation and doing exactly as it instructed, I gave up and decided to use a 2.6 series kernel for the remainder of my NeroLINUX evaluation. I should point out that K3b worked just fine with my 2.4 kernel.

NeroLINUX also presented me with some errors regarding the permissions of certain /dev/sg* devices. The manual thoroughly explained how to resolve these, both with traditional device files as well as the modern udev system. In order to resolve these sorts of things without so much manual intervention, K3b automatically runs its k3bsetup program if it needs to.

I was also presented with some errors about NeroLINUX conflicting with GNOME's magicdev. The manual thoroughly explained how to disable magicdev, complete with pictures. K3b has never had a problem with magicdev.

Attempting to burn CDROMs

I got an ISO of Games KNOPPIX (mostly because it looked interesting) and tried to burn it with NeroLINUX. The program balked at it, saying that my disc was "not writeable." I've heard that some CD burning software is picky about media, so since the first CD was a cheap Office Depot disc from a 100 piece spindle I bought for peanuts a few years ago, I decided to try a Memorex brand disc. Despite being higher quality, these too were "not writeable." In order to confirm my sanity, I burned Games KNOPPIX onto both types of discs with K3b, and both copies booted flawlessly on a separate system.

Feeling lucky, I installed a spare, plain old HP CD burner in another system also running a 2.6 series kernel. I installed NeroLINUX and jumped through all the same hoops again. Even with the 2.6 kernel, NeroLINUX didn't detect my CD burner on this system. Again, for the express purpose of testing my sanity, and this configuration, I tried K3b, and it "just worked."

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Other features

NeroLINUX seems to support many of the same features as K3b, such as dragging and dropping files and directories from file managers into the NeroLINUX window. When I tried simulating the creation of an audio CD, it allowed me to drag and drop .mp3 files, but had trouble with one because its filename contained dashes. It didn't know what to do with the .flac files I dragged to it.

There is volume licensing available with favorable terms. NeroLINUX can be installed on a central server, and there doesn't seem to be any mention of a license server. Instead you're supposed to have some sort of "reasonable mechanism" in place to ensure you're not exceeding your available licenses. This is far better than punishing customers with annoying license server software.

NeroLINUX has potential

When the NeroLINUX developers iron out these fatal flaws and shave off the rough edges, corporations looking to migrate to Linux desktops should seriously consider NeroLINUX. Many users are already familiar with Nero's interface from having used it on Windows.

It's a shame for Nero's sake that they're coming to market this late. K3b has been around for a while and has become quite mature. Had Nero released a functioning program a few years back, they would have sold copies like hotcakes. A friend of mine from a nearby LUG was actually able to get his copy of NeroLINUX working with his hardware. However, he had this to say about it: "Why anyone would bother with Nero when a much superior product, K3b, does it faster, better, and is fully GPL'd, is beyond me." In order to overcome this type of sentiment, the NeroLINUX people need to ensure that their next release isn't inferior to K3b, as is clearly the case with this release. It needs to be better than the free programs currently available.

Purpose CD/DVD Burning
Manufacturer Nero AG
Architectures i386
License Proprietary
Price (retail) $69 if you buy the Nero license online
Product Web site NeroLINUX

Matt Moen is a sometimes freelance writer who is glad that he took notes about this product and wrote this review the following day. He's disturbed at how much more inflammatory his notes are.

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on Review: NeroLINUX 2.0

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Nero

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 05, 2005 05:10 PM
I use Nero because it "just works". In fact I have a Win2k box next to this computer that I use for burning CD's and making "personal backup" copies of my favorite DVD movies.
Burning under linux has always been problimatic. K3b just won't work on my Mandrake 10.1 system. Ditto for Gcombust and Gnome Toaster. X-CD-Roast works the best but it won't do a movie like Nero and DVD Shrink will. CD burning under Mandrake seems to become buggy with every other upgrade. Last time it worked good was Mandrake 9.2
I would like to try Nero for linux but I don't know if I want to take the chance of rewriting LILO and rebooting to the dreaded LI, and then have to dig out a Knoppix disk to try and fix everything.

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Re: Nero

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 05, 2005 05:48 PM
My SO uses Mandrake 10.1 Community, and CD Burning works without a hitch, you win some you loose some.

btw: did you upgrade or reinstall? because experiance suggests that Mdk is much more stable when reinstalling (you don't need to wipe you're home though)

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Re: Nero

Posted by: Fletch on April 05, 2005 07:02 PM
If you have problems burning with other software packages for Linux, including K3b, it would seem to me to point at a problem with your OS's setup, a distribution problem, or an unsupported burner. I've used K3b, X-Cdroast, and for that matter cd-record for years. As far as having a problem "rewriting" LILO and having problems, the command line arguments they would have you use probably enables SCSI for an IDE burner probably (at least for the older kernels, that was the case). That would not cause you to have the dreaded LI as you wouldn't be changing anything with regards to the location of your kernel and the root partition of your installtion. Personally, I have to agree with the author that K3b is top notch, because well, it is. I have to disagree with the author in that Memorex makes "quality" CDs. In my experience over the years, Memorex makes some of the worst quality CDs and cassettes.

Haz

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Re: Nero

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 06, 2005 01:32 AM
This post is interesting, as K3B has worked very well in all of Mandrake 9.2, 10.0 and 10.1. This has been true for 3 different machines, using 2 different brands of CD-RW and one brand DVD-RW/CD-RW.

K3B "just works".

CD Burning on Mandrake always has worked "out of the box".

And, instead of digging for a Knoppix, use Mandrake install CD 1 and type "rescue".

Peace

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NeroLinux

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 05, 2005 05:51 PM
Hi. I'm running Sun's JDS2 here on an old Toshiba (3yrs) laptop and it setup easily with the rpm and runs very well. I never tried k3b but did try all the other ones available for Gnome and could never get them to work easily.

Great documentation with NeroLinux, great first effort for the whole package. I would have bought it if it was twice the price.
Brian

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gee $$$ or free/GPL

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 05, 2005 06:46 PM
yes i get it, nero on linux. but again, why pay when u got k3b. it has problems and it costs $$? too crazy for me. maybe on windows its ok time will tell.
respect to GPL programmers. donate if u can.

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Re:gee $$$ or free/GPL

Posted by: Rob Bochan on April 05, 2005 10:07 PM
Not just money, but a rather large sum of money. A $70 USD price for a simple cd burning utility, and it's still in its infancy? For scratching an itch that's already been scratched... with superb tools that have zero cost to the end user?

No thanks. I don't need to reinvent the wheel.

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Re:gee $$$ or free/GPL

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 05, 2005 10:35 PM
NeroLINUX is free if you have a copy of the Windows version.. I wouldn't buy NeroLINUX, but maybe would try it out if I owned Nero for Windows.

K3b is great, but I need some more advanced DVD video features. There is DVD shrink under WINE, but that currently <A HREF="http://appdb.winehq.org/appview.php?versionId=2230" title="winehq.org">doesn't work in the latest version of WINE</a winehq.org>.

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large file support ?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 05, 2005 07:28 PM
Could anyone confirm that NeroLINUX supports burning files larger than 4GiB on DVD-R ? That's the only reason why I would buy it, since mkisofs (and all other burning software that rely on it) can't do that (bug or lack of feature, pick one).

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Re:large file support ?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 05, 2005 08:05 PM
Make a bug report. Perhaps they'll fix it. They won't for sure if they don't even know about the problem.

However, maybe you could fix your problem by using UDF instead of ISO, it probably will support filesystems larger than 4 Gig. One can read UDF as ISO by the way.

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Re:large file support ?

Posted by: blindcoder on April 05, 2005 08:27 PM
iso9660 limits filesize to 2^31-1 bytes. If NeroLINUX "fixes" that they are ignoring standards and should be avoided.

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Re:large file support ?

Posted by: Koldfusion on April 05, 2005 09:22 PM
They should leave the standard, but give an option.

Or they need to update the standard...

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Re:large file support ?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 05, 2005 10:11 PM
Ehh, no... You should use UDF for DVD.

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K3B and FreeBSD

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 05, 2005 08:37 PM
I was amazed when I first tried K3B on my FreeBSD system. It installed and worked perfectly first time, and seems just as easy to use as Nero and the similar Roxio product for Windows.

In the long run, proprietary software has to be so much better than OSS products that people think it is worth the cost. The reverse seems to be happening - the OSS products are often better in absolute terms. If the vendors can't beat the "bands of amateurs in garages", there is no hope for them in the long run.

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Chicken and Egg

Posted by: Matthew on April 05, 2005 10:08 PM
Ahh yes... the good ole chicken and egg... The way I see it, things like this are going to keep hapening, it's almost too late for propritary software on linux.

Because propritary software vendors would not bring their products to linux citing "lack of customers", open source developers stepped up and picked up the slack. Now we have several high quality products like, firefox, k3b, kde, gimp, gnome, apache, xine, totem, openoffice, gaim... that have a hold on their respective markets. Now it will be exteremely difficult for propritary software vendors to peddle their wares unless they are top notch or they are coming into an area that is lacking.

Opera is an exception here, as they have been around for a while on linux with a fairly good product, of course now they are loosing marketshare to firefox...

People are no longer looking for photoshop, office, powerdvd, and such programs on linux, now they want their open source equivlants to add that one extra feature that will make the package complete.

The largest area not already controlled by open source software is games. Commerical games still have some time to take over the linux market, but with time open source games will fill this niche as well...

I guess we are still kind of seeing the chicken and egg thing, companies don't want to invest the resources it takes to get a top notch linux version because it will not pay out in end, but what they have yet to realize is, if they don't enter the market now, they may never get the chance to (maybe they do realize it and I am just way off).

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Johnny come lately

Posted by: ThoreauHD on April 05, 2005 11:54 PM
I've used both k3b and nero, and nero on linux is playing catch up at the moment. CD mounting/automounting seems to be one limiting factor. The feature set of nero at 2.0 doesn't come close to k3b yet.

Nero can really advance passed k3b if they got their CD/DVD mounting properly worked out and also included file conversion on the fly. This is k3b's current weakness, and on linux, it's also Nero's. If they were to get this included(convert a avi to svcd,etc) then Nero would have a point in being.

Also, the caveat of having to purchase the windows version to get the linux version is slightly irritating to say the least. They also have DRM licensing included for some reason, even though it doesn't interact with anything DRM at the moment. There are some things that Ahead software needs to work on, but they have a possibility of being worth the money if they can correct and enhance their feature set to match the windows version. Good first attempt though by the Ahead team. Just not quite there yet.

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Deb format

Posted by: Matthew on April 06, 2005 02:04 AM
I am glad to see that they bundled a<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.deb format.

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Video / DVD9 / 8x+

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 06, 2005 06:38 AM
I too was disappointed that NeroLinux doesn't currently feature video transcoding- that would encourage lots of people to fork out as its one area where k3b is currently lacking.

But in NeroLinux's favour..

I have yet to see k3b burn any faster than 4x on these 8x Infiniti discs I have, which NeroLinux can correctly (I verified them) burn on at the full 8x. I have a NEC 3520 DVD/RW drive.

Writeable DVD9 discs a WAY too expensive in the UK right now (5 for 1!) but NeroLinux seems to support these discs already and k3b (growisofs) supposedly doesn't.

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NeroLinux on SuSE 9.1

Posted by: Kevin W. Peters on April 07, 2005 02:41 AM
I am using Nero on SuSE 9.1 Pro with no problems at all. Everything works and it all worked right after the install. The only thing I had to add was mpg123 to convert mp3s to wav files for audio cds, but after that was done, audio cds are a breeze. My only problem is the way you have to get Nero: having to buy a new version of Nero and register it on the site to get a free copy for Linux. That doesn't sound too free to me. If they want to charge for it, do it, but don't make me buy something I don't need just to get something I DO need.

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Re:NeroLinux on SuSE 9.1

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 07, 2005 02:48 PM
I received NeroLinux gratis as a registered Nero 6 Ultra user. I have always found Nero to be the "go to" app for any task involving my CD burner in my alter ego as a Windows user. It's ease of use and familiar interface are a solid addition to my daily tasks of work and entertainment

I have found k3b to stable and reliable but have been frustrated by my inability to get it to burn at a rate higher than 12X. At that speed, I have found that it taxes my system enough that burning a disk in the background as I continue my routine to be laggy and the overall system degradation irritating. CPU utilization would max out and just opening a simple text file while burning a CD was significantly impacted.

I downloaded the Nero rpm and the application installed flawlessly on my Dell D600 Latitude. It installed an icon on my CD/DVD menu in both KDE and gnome. The first time I ran the application, it warned me that the applications SuSE Watcher and SuSe Plugger were running and could interfere with Nero's disk writing operations. I choose to ignore the warning to test it in my normal working environment. After loading and searching for my CDRW, it was unable to detect it. I suspected a permissions issue and confirmed it with a quick check of the well written help file. After editing the menu item to run as root, it found my CDRW and presented me with an interface that is very familar and all of the tools and options were just where I expected to find them. I choose the burn image menu option, navigated to SuSE 9.1 Personal Edition iso on my file server and clicked on the burn CD icon without adjusting any setting from the default. After approximately 15 secs to load the buffer, the burn began at 24X, the first time I have been able to use my drive at its rated speed on the Linux platform. CPU utilization never topped 60%, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was no system degradation at all. One 2-3 second skip in my streaming audio was the only indication that the burn session began. After confirming a successful write by booting up to the install routine I compiled a MP3 disk and burned it at 24X just as easily and with the same success I have come to expect from Nero.

I am impressed with the over-all polish and and obvious attention to what Nero's customers have come to expect from a top of the line product.

My only reservation to rating it as a perfect fit on my desktop is the run as root requirement. K3B is capable of writing finding and using my CDRW without this requirement and it perhaps future releases of NeroLinux will address this. As such, my son will continue to use k3b to write his musical choices to disk while I now have a choice of options. Would I have paid the asking price for the proprietary software over the open source k3b? Probably not. But since I own a license for Nero, NeroLinux is a no-brainer for me.

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Nero

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 09, 2005 10:19 AM
You know there is as huge thing left out of this article. The NERO is a BETA!!!!!!!! OUCH did not leave that out for a reason?

Next on a Windows box Nero Reconizes<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.FLAC,<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.APE and others once you install the CODECS!!! So then one would think you have to have the codec plugins installed for NERO Linux version as well!

Also did you check the "HCL" "Hardware Compatability List" these are handy as to which Burners were Supported? Something tells me no you did not.

Now I have installed this NERO on Xandros 2.0 installed and does everything you could not get it to do!

Next alot of distros have "K3b" working because most distrobutions have it compiled for that Distro.

Now I am not saying that there is not issues but Gees it's a BETA!!!! Which means it's a work in progress. Also if you have the Full Deluxe Windows version you can get the Linux one for FREE!!!! hmmmmm......

I can't believe "Robin" did not make you put in all the details to this before this article was posted.

ARGH!

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