When starting K3b in Debian10/KDE (at version 18.08 there) I get this error:

Unable to find dvd+rw-format executable
K3b uses dvd+rw-format to format DVD-RWs and DVD+RWs.
Solution: Install the dvd+rw-tools package.

The dvd+rw-tools is installed. I have found some very old reports of this from 2004 and 2008 so I thought it got fixed by now.

How to fix this problem?

I also had this error when trying to burn to a DVD: "Could not determine size of resulting image file." and:

/usr/bin/genisoimage: Missing pathspec.
Usage: genisoimage [options] -o file directory ...

in the debugging ouput. I solved this by making more space available for the /tmp directory. (It didn't say that there was too little disk space in the errors and I didn't get notified about disk space running out there.)

  • dvd+rw-tools are not maintined since ~12 years and since the code does dirty things, it does not work with all of the newer drives. cdrtools are stil maintained and for that reason, you should upgrade to recent original software.
    – schily
    May 5, 2020 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


Your problem is that you are running Debian and as a result, you get intentionally defective optical media software.

Debian started an anti-social campaign against cdrtools in May 2004 and created a defective variant of the cdrtools. Between May 2004 and May 2005, they added more than 50 Debian specific bugs and replaced the working DVD support code in cdrecord by a self-made non-working piece of code. In May 2007, they completely stopped working on that defective cdrtools variant.

As a result, your hope, that the well known problems must have been gone away after 2008 is in vain. We rather have 16 year anniversary of non-working optical media software on Debian.

If you like to get working software, I recommend you to fetch the original software from schilytools at:


compile and install it and tell k3b to use the original software. If you had an unmodified k3b, k3b would by its own look for the original software first, but you are on Debian....

BTW: There are other Linux distros, e.g. Suse, gentoo, ... that ship the working original software.

  • Thanks for the answer - I'd really like to know why it's getting downvoted (/the counterarguments) and to what extent your claims are wellfounded. Assuming that there was such a "campaign" or something similar: why did they replace the software? And why have the problems not been fixed by now? It looks like K3b is still working properly on Debian for DVD-R discs at least. I'm pretty sure there were and are good reasons for why it's not getting included / updated and I think the best way to resolve it would be finding out why and then fixing it (instead of using other distros).
    – mYnDstrEAm
    May 5, 2020 at 20:56
  • Looks like the problem was the license. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… One solution would be changing the license. Another might be developing something like new license-intercompatibility standards/mechanisms/license-extensions. But the latter might not solve this issue. Per gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#CDDL the main issue with CDDL is that it "has a weak per-file copyleft" so the best way to fix this would probably be creating a new version of it with sufficient per-file copyleft & omitting the concept of "intellectual property".
    – mYnDstrEAm
    May 5, 2020 at 21:11
  • The problem was definitely not the license. The license was changed one year after the anti-social attacks from Debian started and after denian claimed there was a problem with the GPL, so the current version is no longer the GPL. Please be careful with text from wikipedia that is dominated by debian people. This is definitely an attack against OSS from people who intended to get personal profit from that attack.
    – schily
    May 5, 2020 at 22:15
  • There are ~ two people who downvote all my answers, regardless on how helpful they are.The reason for the initial modifications on the software in May 2004 was that a Debian person was in hope to get a job at the company Nero. Please also note that in May 2004, there was an incompatible interface change for the SCSI driver in the linux kernel and the debian variant still does not support the current interface. As a result, the debian version only works (if at all) as root, while the original software supports to run as ordinary user, when the binary was set up currectly with setcap.
    – schily
    May 5, 2020 at 22:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.