Over the years, we have all purchased a lot of music CDs, or, as some of us still call them, albums. Many of those albums, unfortunately, have only two or three songs we really liked, so playing the whole album wasn't what we wanted. As a result, we created collections of our favorite songs on tape and played the tapes instead.
These days, with the help of our Linux systems, we can create our own collections from those albums we have purchased and create CD collections of those songs we want to hear. Furthermore, if you have lots of disk space and you spend a lot of time at your computer, nothing beats a collection of songs ready to play without having to change CDs all the time. Pulling songs from a CD and saving them to your system as digital images is what is commonly referred to as ripping.
Intermezzo: Digital Audio Formats
Before I get into the mechanics of ripping and burning songs, I'd like to spend a little time discussing music formats. When you purchase a CD, the songs on it are in a format not generally used by your system. In fact, when we copy songs to disk from a CD, we always encode it into another, usually more compact format. The format we transfer to is identified by a three-letter extension on the filename. The most common formats are .wav, .mp3, and (more recently) .ogg.
The wav format is one originally created by Microsoft. It is extremely common but not the most efficient in terms of compression. The mp3 format (from the Motion Pictures Experts Group, aka MPEG), on the other hand, owes its popularity to the high compression ratio it uses about 12:1. The newcomer on the block is the ogg (or Ogg Vorbis) format. Like mp3, it boasts a high compression rate; but unlike mp3, it is completely unencumbered by patents.
To give you an idea of the compression values, I ripped a 3-minute, 46-second song to wav format. It came in at 39,866,444 bytes, while the same song in ogg format required only 3,438,407 bytes. If you do the math, that is a ratio of 11.6:1 a pretty impressive reason for not using wav format files.