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Linux in a Nutshell

This directory of Linux commands is from Linux in a Nutshell, 5th Edition.

Click on any of the 687 commands below to get a description and list of available options. All links in the command summaries point to the online version of the book on Safari Bookshelf.

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cdparanoia [options] span [outfile]

Like cdda2wav, cdparanoia records Compact Disc audio files as WAV, AIFF, AIFF-C, or raw format files. It uses additional data-verification and sound-improvement algorithms to make the process more reliable and is used by a number of graphical recording programs as a backend.


-a, --output-aifc

Output in AIFF-C format.

-B, --batch

Split output into multiple files, one per track. Each file will begin with the track number. This is the single most commonly used flag for this command.

-C, --force-cdrom-big-endian

Force cdparanoia to treat the drive as a big-endian device.

-c, --force-cdrom-little-endian

Force cdparanoia to treat the drive as a little-endian device.

-d, --force-cdrom-device devicename

Specify a device name to use instead of the first readable CD-ROM available.

-e, --stderr-progress

Send all progress messages to stderr instead of stdout; used by wrapper scripts.

-f, --output-aiff

Output in AIFF format. The default format is WAV.

-h, --help

Display options and syntax.

-p, --output-raw

Output headerless raw data.

-R, --output-raw-big-endian

Output raw data in big-endian byte order.

-r, --output-raw-little-endian

Output raw data in little-endian byte order.

-Q, --query

Display CD-ROM table of contents and quit.

-q, --quiet

Quiet mode.

-S, --force-read-speed n

Set the read speed to n on drives that support it. This is useful if you have a slow hard disk or not much RAM.

-s, --search-for-drive

Search for a drive, even if /dev/cdrom exists.

-V, --version

Print version information and quit.

-v, --verbose

Verbose mode.

-w, --output-wav

Output in WAV format. This is the default.

-X, --abort-on-skip

If a read fails and must be skipped, skip the entire track and delete any partially completed output file.

-Z, --disable-paranoia

Disable data verification and correction. Causes cdparanoia to behave exactly as cdda2wav would.

-z, --never-skip[=retries]

If a read fails (for example, due to a scratch in the disc), try again and again. If you specify a number, cdparanoia will try that number of times. If you do not, cdparanoia will retry until it succeeds. The default number of attempts is 20.

Progress symbols

The output during operation of cdparanoia includes both smiley faces and more standard progress symbols. They are:


Operation proceeding normally.


Operation proceeding normally, but with jitter during reads.


Read drift.


Repeated read problems in the same place.


SCSI/ATAPI transport error (hardware problem not related to the disc itself).


Scratch detected.


Unable to correct problem.


Unknown and uncorrectable error.




Blank space in the progress indicator means that no corrections were necessary.


Jitter correction was required.


Read errors.


Errors even after correction; repeated read errors.


Corrected transport errors.


An uncorrected error or a skipped read.

The span argument

The cdparanoia command takes exactly one argument, which describes how much of the CD to record. It uses numbers followed by bracketed times to designate track numbers and time within them. For example, the string 1[2:23] -2[5] indicates a recording from the two-minute and twenty-three-second mark of the first track up to the fifth second of the second track. The time format is demarcated by colons, hours:minutes:seconds:.sectors, with the last item, sectors, preceded by a decimal point (a sector is 1/75 of a second). It's best to put this argument within quotes.

If you use the -B option, the span argument is not required.

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