Compatible External CD/DVD Drive?

I do not know where to put this topic. Is there a Linux compatible CD/DVD drive or are those Plug-N-Play? In December this year, I am switching to the Librem 15" Laptop and will be transfering my iTunes Music (Via CD Burn) to the new laptop. I do not have a huge iTunes Library. I will be using Rhythmbox, already installed and fits my needs, including podcasts. Tips?

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usb dvd drives are pnp since they are emulating scsi via usb


Perfect! I don’t need to buy a new one then. The one I already own will do just fine, standard USB 2.0 connection. @ruff

Music bought from iTunes is DRM free. I just transferred it to my Linux box over the network. Easier than burning a CD. You could also use a USB key.

I think Apple made that change, to DRM free, about 10 years ago.


@leetaur Really? DRM Free? How did you transfer it over the network? Please share the steps if you can. I will be using Rhythmbox, since I can add podcasts from iTunes to it.

What is your current environment? Mac laptop? Windows laptop? Other Linux laptop?

Perhaps @leetaur means to enable file sharing (whatever is compatible between source computer and destination computer) and haul the files across that way.

It may help to mention what format music files you have on the source computer. AAC? FLAC? MP3?

Partly desirable because a USB key can hold so much more data than a CD.

@kieran; I am coming from a Mac Laptop. iTunes generally uses AAC format, but I can create MP3 Versions of my albums & songs.

I have seen USB keys hold ridiculous amounts of storage lately, especially in the last five years.
I checked my music database size; less than 100GB (~78 GB).

AAC should be able to be played on Linux ‘as is’. I tested a .M4A file (AAC audio data in MPEG-4 container) and Rhythmbox was happy to play it.

If you are going to convert, converting to FLAC may be preferable to MP3. Rhythmbox is happy to play a FLAC file. (Both AAC and MP3 are encumbered.)

If you are doing a bulk conversion then soundconverter is good e.g. happy to convert .M4A to .FLAC.

That’s not small. How many files is this? Expect it to take a fair amount of time just to copy the data, never mind about converting formats if you decide to convert.

You aren’t realistically going to do that via CD. That would be hundreds of CDs! (if done as standard audio CDs, and still a total pain if done as data CDs)

Unfortunately I won’t be able to provide any step-by-step instructions for a Mac.

How about that?
If a larger size is required, an external HDD/SSD + USB enclosure can be used instead of an external CD/DVD device. But the price will be higher.

@Jonathanta I used scp to copy them over the network. We have a MacBook Pro, and an old Dell laptop that runs Linux.

scp comes installed with ssh. I installed an ssh server on the Linux laptop, which allows me to log into it via the Terminal. It also allows me to copy files back and forth securely.

Syntax example: scp /some/directory/on/your/mac your_username@

Change the IP address (192 etc) to whatever the IP address is for your Linux box. On your local network, it will probably either start with 10 or 192, depending on your router.


And just so it’s clear, in that example it’s all one line and there’s a space between “mac” and “your_username”

All one line. And yes there is a space.

@kieran Then I will not use CDs. I can only convert files based on what iTunes allows for file type conversions. As for how many files, I checked the “Get info” feature of the iTunes music folder and it shows 10,452 items. So yeah, I will not be using CD’s for sure.

@rcu & @leetaur I do have a couple of external hard drives with more than enough space. So I won’t need to transfer anything over the network and I can just move them physically from one computer to another. Would either of you know how the disk should be formatted so it is compatible between Mac and Debian Linux?

Linux can read, but not safely write HFS+ (the standard macOS filesystem for hard drives).
If I need a partition that both Linux and macOS can write to, I use FAT32 even though FAT32 is nearly obsolete.
In your situation, I’d make an HFS+ backup of the Mac. You need backups of your data anyway! Drive failures and data corruption are a fact of life, and if you don’t have backups, you’re guaranteed to lose your files sooner or later.
Once you have a backup drive containing an HFS+ partition with your Mac files, you can use a USB3 connector to transfer your music files to your Linux computer.

@DHS Thank you for letting me know. I will make sure the external drive I use for transferring files is HFS+ then. As long as Linux is able to read the files I transfer over that is enough for me; document files and music files especially. For the document files, I will make sure they are compatible with the Linux applications.

Thank you everyone for your help.

I will definitely need to learn how to make and automate backups for my Purism computer hard drive.

In that case I would strongly recommend just doing a bunch of a dozen files and confirming that you are happy with the way things are working before committing to doing all 10,000.

If you end up converting the audio format then it will take a fair amount of time (many, many hours) to convert 10,000 audio files.

FAT is generally good for interchange. FAT is horrible and basically obsolete and even somewhat encumbered but it is widely supported and simple. It works on everything - cars, TVs, digital cameras, computers.

The downside of using FAT as compared with HFS+ is that you will almost certainly lose some file system metadata if you use FAT. However you may well lose that anyway once you copy off the external drive (with whatever file system) onto the native Linux file system on the laptop (presumably ext4). (File system metadata includes things like file ownership, file access, file permissions, creation / modification / access dates/times. Maybe it won’t matter to you.)

Hence, again, test your process out with a dozen audio files before committing to doing 10,000.

Get back to us in December … seems a long time to wait but there you go …


I may be able to attempt this far earlier than December. The only two factors affecting the speed of testing this are how quickly I can attempt to eliminate my last two debts and also save up for the high-spec 15" purism laptop. Once the last two debts are eliminated, it may take only two months to save up for the new laptop.

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I use Borg to back up. It is available for many operating systems, including macOS and Linux. Well documented, there are even scripts to back up your data automatically. I use this archiver and I am very pleased with it. Its main feature is that each new backup will only contain information that has changed against the previous backup. This saves time and space in backup storage. You can create and manage your own backups, or modify the documentation automation scripts for your needs, or write your own. I use two external USB drives and a modified automation script, and this solution suits me perfectly.

For a macOS and Linux compatible file system, see UDF:

  1. here
  2. and here
  3. however, there are caveats

As long as you do something appropriate with the external USB drives when not in use.

Those caveats are pretty old, do you know them to still be relevant?