Debian CD-ROM woes


I feel like pulling my hair out!! Last night Himanshu had come over for dinner, I was making pao bhaji, we were sitting and listening to music and life was good. Himanshu wanted to listen to an audio CD, so I popped it into my laptop and fired up kscd (the kde audio cd player). And it didn’t work. It just didn’t work.

I was shocked, embarassed and disgraced!! Ragesh had his hearty laugh, and my roomies mocked at me. I was absolutely stupefied since the CD was the last thing I had expected to stop working on my Debian system. Everything rocked like hell with Fedora.

So began the battle. I started off by trying to mount the CD, and got a whole bunch of errors. It really scared me. Then I started looking at the boot messages — the CD seemed to be recognized alright by the kernel, but somehow it wasn’t reading from it. I thought perhaps I had messed up something in my kernel. Naturally, the first thing to do was to try out the other kernels — some of which are prepackaged by Debian.

After a plethora of reboots, things were still looking bleak, and I was absolutely shocked that even the prepackaged kernel’s didn’t work. Things couldn’t get worse, and I lost hope and went to bed. This morning, I got back into the fight with new vigour. I started playing with the kernel options, taking guesses at what might be causing the problem — I tried disabling DMA, compiling the floppy as a module and not inside the kernel, and a whole bunch of other things. Nothing worked, and I was really dejected.

Just then, I was reading something on debianHELP.org, that I realized that all this while I had been trying to mount audio CDs. Fact is, you CAN NOT mount audio CDs, since they don’t have a file system!!!! That revelation was releiving, but frustrating as hell and I already began to feel like a jack ass. So then I tried mounting a regular CD, and no problems.

So then I tried kscd again with the audio CD, and it still failed. Then it struck me that perhaps the problem was simply due to read/write permissions on the /dev/cdrom device. And lo behold!, when I ran the audio player as root, things worked just as expected! I felt really relieved, coz for a moment I panicked because I wasn’t able to figure out what the problem was. And I also felt really foolish for having wasted so much time over such a small thing. But well, lessons learnt the hard way are not easily forgotten :)

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