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Burning CD's at 1X is Still Useful

The Red Hat 8 running on my old Sony VAIO SuperSlim notebook just didn't have enough whiz and bang to get me through the day. I wanted to access my memory card readers, digital cameras, and scanners. So it's time for me to find a newer operating system to install. Going back to the Windows 98 operating system that came with the notebook feels like a step backward to the blue screen of death era. Plus, I wanted to see what the hype is about with Ubuntu, a free Linux operating system based on Debian. Ubuntu has been taunted as the operating system for Google, though how much truth in that rumor is up in the air.

I downloaded the Ubuntu 5.1 "The Breezy Badger" through the torrent system with Azureus. With hundreds of users seeding the CD image, it took less an hour to download. It was a lot faster than trying to download directly from Ubuntu's web site. After downloading the image, I burned it to CD using Sonic RecordNow! on my newer HP Pavilion Entertainment Notebook PC dv1227us.

Next, I plugged the old, but trusty, Sony PCGA-CD51/A PCMCIA External CD-ROM drive into the Sony VAIO PCG-505TS SuperSlim Notebook. Turned on the computer, and inserted the Ubuntu 5.1 install CD into the drive. I had to use the three-finger salute (Ctrl-Alt-Del) to reboot the system once, because the Red Hat 8 GRUB boot loader had already started by that time.

The reboot went well. The notebook immediately recognized the Ubuntu 5.1 install CD and booted from the CD-ROM drive. I kept pressing returns and selecting the right selections to get the default installation started. It was getting late, so I let it run over night. In the morning, I came back to find that the process had stop one a base installation error. The "initrd-tools" module could not be installed. I tried again, and the same error occurred.

I know I have more than enough hard disk space. I had upgraded the standard 4 GB hard drive in the PCG-505TS to a 12 GB hard drive. The Ubuntu 5.1 install CD is only 617 MB and can't possibly use up the entire 12 GB even if the files are compressed four to one! It must be the old PCGA-CD51/A CD-ROM drive can't keep up with the 24x burnt CD. The only solution . . . burn the CD at 1x or some other slower speed.

I loaded up Sonic RecordNow! again, but I couldn't find a way to slow down the burn speed. It seems that Sonic RecordNow! simply assumes that you will want to burn at the fastest rate and never want to use your CD's with older computer equipment; seems a bit shortsighted to me. Luckily for me, I found a copy of BurnAtOnce 0.99.5 that is able to read ISO images. BurnAtOnce is free for non-commercial use. The slowest it could burn at is at 8x. I wish it could burn CD's at even slower rate, but it's worth a try.

After burning the Ubuntu install CD at 8x, I booted it up on the SuperSlim notebook again. This time it was able to go through the base installation just fine. However, the installation reported an error upon coping files to the freshly prepared hard disk. I tried again, and the copy process worked just fine. It seems that the 8x burnt CD was just on the verge of being too fast for the PCGA-CD51/A CD-ROM drive. In the end, Ubuntu was installed successfully on the notebook computer. I just wish I have a CD burning software that can do 1x.

Chieh Cheng
Sat, 4 Mar 2006 17:04:14 -0800

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