Linux Format logo

Announcing the LXF EcoDisc!

We try to do our bit for the environment at LXF HQ — we recycle as much as possible, and I program solely in assembly language to save electrons. But we want to do more, so as of Linux Format issue 121 we’re switching to a new type of DVD: EcoDisc. Now, worry not - the disc content is still the same: 4GB packed with distros, software, tutorials, podcasts and more. But physically the disc uses less energy and fewer materials to manufacture, and it’s also lighter and therefore requires less energy to transport. That doesn’t seem like much for a single DVD, but when you consider 30,000 discs moving around the planet, it all adds up!

So that’s good for Mama Earth, but there’s another bonus: EcoDiscs are really, really tough. Below you can see the ever-so-normal Jeremy Ford from PC Format magazine behind an experiment we set up. We applied a rubber band around the new disc (they’re very flexible) and held it in place for three hours.

Some Australian readers have had problems with the older DVD type, in which magazines are strapped tightly together and transported over long distances, thereby causing warping to the discs and read errors. But check this out — when we released the rubber band from the EcoDisc after three hours, it popped straight back to its natural flat shape immediately:

Linux Mint booted up and installed without a hitch. We then ran a wheelie-chair over the disc, and yep, it still worked. Linux Format 121 should be going out to subscribers as of today, so let us know what you think! (Of course, if you choose to stress-test the disc yourself with experiments involving hammers and JCBs, we can’t supply replacements.)

Your comments

Does not work on my computer

Does not work on my computer with a DVDRW. It works on my old one with a DVD ROM drive, so it is not the disc. lshw snippet follows:

description: RAID bus controller
product: SiI 3512 [SATALink/SATARaid] Serial ATA Controller
vendor: Silicon Image, Inc.
physical id: 7
bus info: pci@0000:00:07.0
logical name: scsi0
logical name: scsi1
version: 01
width: 32 bits
clock: 66MHz
capabilities: storage pm bus_master cap_list emulated
configuration: driver=sata_sil latency=32 module=sata_sil
description: DVD-RAM writer
product: DVD-RAM GSA-H60L
vendor: HL-DT-ST
physical id: 0
bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0
logical name: /dev/cdrom
logical name: /dev/cdrw
logical name: /dev/dvd
logical name: /dev/dvdrw
logical name: /dev/scd0
logical name: /dev/sr0
version: R90C
capabilities: removable audio cd-r cd-rw dvd dvd-r dvd-ram
configuration: ansiversion=5 status=nodisc



BLOODY CHEEK. As a Mac user I've just been defrauded in my view. Thank god I noticed the warning just as I was about to slot the disc in my Mini. I wouldn't of done so unless I was looking through the index to see what had been updated recently. Nothing on the cover to indicate I'm wasting my money.

To open a debate about this switch after you've done it and to only warn the disc is useless on my computer ONLY after I've paid for it suggests you lot have a fine career ahead in politics. I WILL NEVER BUY YOUR MAGAZINE AGAIN!

Yes it does work !

Received the latest version with the included floppy-ROM in the post today in sunny South Africa. I was a bit concerned because the disc showed marks on the surface - the first time I have had a disc damaged in the post. I tried the disc in a couple of drives, none of which would do anything with it and came to your website to complain. Seeing your write-up about how tough the discs are, I decided to give it a vigorous polishing, which removed the surface marks, and now it works fine in all the drives I have!

So consider me a convert for now (I'll check them out for a few months before I become a permanent convert).

Not so good about the slot drives though, especially when you have an article about Linux meets Mac in this issue! Impeccable editorial timing :-) I assume that this warning applies to all slot drives, not just Macs ? My wife has a Dell laptop with a slot drive but I'm not going to experiment, no, no, I'm not. I may be a geek, but I'm not survival challenged.


Calm it!

@Ratty Mac Steve:
If you'll read correctly - Mike has put an email address under that warning which you can contact if you have difficulties.

I don't know what they do with the complaints. Maybe they send you an old disc, or something.

Just please read and think before you go on a huge rant. The internet would be a much better place ;)

Ratty Mac Steve: email me

Ratty Mac Steve: email me (Mike DOT Saunders AT futurenet DOT com) with your address and I will send out a rigid replacement DVD.


Bummed Mac User

While I share the general bummed-ness of the Mac Users, I cannot relate to someone who's knee-jerk (emphasis on the jerk) response is to threaten and pout. My 7 year old responds to disappointment better than that.

I saw the warning just as I was about to excitedly toss the disc into my MBP. Yeah, I'm annoyed that I cannot leap right into virtualizing everything on the disc (my monthly ritual -- create, explore, toss 3-4 virtual systems), but I did what the LF guys expected: emailed a "what now?"

Grow up, little boy(s), they didn't do this to spite us.

(Although I think it was a bit short-sighted to make this switch w/o polling the users to see how many slot-loading users were going to be screwed by the switch).


You may be interested to know that the eco-disk does not work in Dell slot drives either! I didn't see the Apple warning.

Excellent advice

Arrived at the LXF site with steam coming out of my ears - damn EcoDisc, bloody useless!

Thankfully I read Mike's great advice. I ran my wheelie-chair over it, popped into the drive and it worked great.

Thanks Mike!

For Linux Format 122 we're

For Linux Format 122 we're going back to the normal DVD format until EcoDiscs are known to work with all slot drives. Sorry for the hassle -- if anyone wants a rigid replacement for the 121 DVD, email me (Mike DOT Saunders AT futurenet DOT com) and I'll send one out.


Works on all my drives

A for-the-record comment. The EcoDisc works on Philips, Samsung, and Toshiba least the ones on my desktops and laptops. Plus I enjoy the squeal from those around when I bend the disc.

EcoDisc Madness

What a load of ol' rubbish.

This is a perfect example of jumping on the "green bandwagon".
What possible benefit, except to those with a vested interest in EcoDisc, does this new media have?

Like saving a nanowatt per disc is gonna make any measurable diff.
in saving the planet.



permanent record

The whole purpose in subscribing to a magazine with a factory-pressed DVD is that this DVD is permanent. I have CDs and later DVDs that are 15 years old and still load a program perfectly.
A home-burned DVD starts to 'fade' after about 5 years. If the contents are audio-visual a few ones or zeros more or less matter not, but if the content is a program this can be fatal.
The EcoDisc type, if it survives postal assault, starts to loose it's content after about one year. Certainly nothing to keep a cherished program on. I still use the original SUSE 10.0 DVD to install on clients computers, mostly laptops.

Spell out the savings

Eco-disc works in my laptop (haven't tried it in my main machine yet, because my son has "borrowed" it to try in his - which means I'll never see it again), so I'm cool.

But what I want to know is exactly how much C02 I've actually saved. Can I go on a guilt-free trip to Havana, or do I have to buy some more copies of LXF first to earn enough carbon credits.

If so, how much carbon credits do I need to go from Co Armagh (it's in the UK) to Cuba? And how many copies of LXF do I have to buy?

(And can I use up the spare carbon credits of LXF buyers whose discs don't work?)

Sigh, I suppose we are all


I suppose we are all supposed to feel good about ourselves now. Is there no end to the green gimmickery that we have to put up with from every company gleefully exclaiming how we are all saving the planet? Readers have asked for the option of no DVD at all for years.

Eco Savings

I hope it sure is an eco saver and works in it's benefit.

Well, I love it.

I was impressed with the EcoDisc - being more rugged sounds like a good idea to me, and presumably they cost less to produce, right? More to the point, the flexibility is very cool. The one thing I noticed is it makes a lot more noise than a normal DVD - I suppose being light and flexible lets it resonate better as my drive gets up to speed. Here's a thought: How about a series of cover EcoDiscs with slightly different thicknesses, tuned so we can collect them and play a tune on our drives? We could have the rudiments of the Free Software Song by the end of next year! :o)

On a more serious note, if we're going back to rigid DVDs, can we have a double-sided version with, eg, the full DVD of the latest distro release on the flip side? That would probably be more universally compatible (at least, I've seen one (otherwise vastly inferior) magazine that gets away with it), and an even greater help to those of us living with low bandwidth.

More EcoDiscs please

Could you please stay with the EcoDiscs for at least the next 5 issues
as I have 6 whiskey (read not whisky) glasses and only 1 EcoDisc.
I need another 5 coasters to complete my collection!!!!

Can an Ecodisc do this?

One more reason to go back to normal cd/dvd's....

Didn't know DVDs came with a 'health' warning...

Missed the tiny little notice on the back of the sleeve not to put this in an Apple MacBook, too eager to give Linux mint a try I guess.
Trip to the repair shop required now (at my expense), this piece of eco trash is well and truly lodged inside.

Linux Mint rocks though, and runs ever so sweet on the Mac.

Andy loves everying except penguins and dragons

Bravo dear editorial boffins for forging ahead in this eco friendly manner with your disc but personally I think its about time someone shot the penguin or chained up the dragons cos it's all abit old hat.
Linux think tanks everywhere typing programs and refining systems, taking on the mighty Windows and what's the art work, oOW it's a penguin or some defunkt looking dragon, please, why must Linux be no more creative in this aspect than a nerd with a dos prompt?

how about choice

why not make the dvd content online?
it would make for a more environmently safe choice for those of use
who choose to have online than mailed to us.

just a thought


No more discs

I subscribe to LXF and each month I add a new DVD to the old-DVD pile.

I never ever run them and prefer to download iso images direct from the distro website.

+1 vote to discontinue the DVD

more discs

Not everyone has the luxury of broadband and limitless cap.
One of the main reasons for buying the mag is for the iso's.

+1 vote to continue with the discs.(not the eco ones).

I love them personally

I love the discs, the main problem with apple machines is not the discs but the apple dvd drives, from what I understand they do not use a mechanism that is DVD forum approved.

One person here as said they only last one year, but I remember reading somewhere they are predicted to last 200 years... well guess time will tell..

Returning soon

A new version of the EcoDisc is due out any day which the makers say will be compatible with slot drives, so we'll give it another go then.

The disks use roughly half the amount of polycarbonate, which is derived from oil. Although the saving on each individual disk is small, we duplicate literally millions of them over a year between Linux Format and its sister PC titles. The inefficiencies of the magazine distribution system mean that as many as 40% of the ones we duplicate go into landfill unsold.

We also hope that fewer will be damaged in transit, as they are flexible, although I think we have some work to do on that score making sure they are not folded in half by overenthusiastic posties.


I've just tried the Issue 121 EcoDisk and it was not readable in four different
machines. In each case there were read errors near the outer edge (high sector

My vote is to go back to the "regular" DVD's until there is more field testing.

Disk not working

The magazine costs me an arm and a leg here in South Africa, but it is well worth it. However for the first time I could not read the new eco DVD. What a disappointment....

Snapped in half when i just picked it up

yes it snapped i half just now oh well the distro on it was not worth the money i paid for lxf it worked for 2 hours before refuseing to boot on all my machines

LXF121 DVD not working

Lots of read errors and it fails to boot. No problems with other discs.

No DVD works for me

In all honesty I would prefer a no disk subscription option

Revised version

I had some minor problems with the older ecodisc, too. However, I contacted them and asked if it's safe for use now. They said, that they revised the ecodisc so that it has the same playability as a common DVD now.
The whole thing was tested & certified by Testronic Labs (on over 250 players)
EcoDisc has the results on their homepage.

No - just as bad

New disc no better than the old one. lxf121 disc I managed to copy to a PROPER dvd using a usb drive that would read it. Same with lxf131 - but the latest lxf132 would not read beyond 76% when trying to make copy so unable to use it in any of my machines. So sort of works in 1 out of 4 drives - conclusion rubbish.

New disc is really the Old disc

Did anyone compare the old and new disc design? Bet you will find it the same!
By the way the famous Testronics test results are only half the story, if you check out the full test results on their site you will see almost half of all the tests were carried out "in-house" by Ecodisc themselves!, none of the tests show any comparison against the standard which is the DVD surely.

Web hosting by UKFast