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Q's on backup to CD-R

I'm trying to do a fairly comprehensive system backup to CD-R.  The
amount I have to backup is much larger than the free space on the
system, which in turn is larger than a CD-R.

This means I'm interested in compression and streaming solutions.

I just tried afio -o -Z piped to cdbackup, but this gave me an error
after a bit.  I assume this was because cdbackup ran out of things to
write while afio was busy compressing (see error below).

I see afio's examples sketch out using blocking and cdrecord directly,
but I have a feeling I may run into the same issue.

Is there a way around this, for example setting up some kind of
buffered pipe so I don't run out of input?

I was tarring up little chuncks and writing them to CD, but my chunks
got too big and this got tedious.

Also, though I've always used tar, I understand it's a very fragile
backup scheme and that afio (or maybe cpio--couldn't quite tell) is
safer for archiving.  Any comments?

By the way, here are two helpful sites I've culled from previous

The problem is a lot of the stuff doesn't address the peculiarities of

Final question, about what to back up.  Karsten Self's nice page
(first reference) says some parts of /var are good to backup.  Which
ones?  Also, I have a nagging feeling that some of /lib or /usr/lib
has some customizations (vague memories of editing or adding files
there, maybe for browser add-ons...).  

Thanks for any info or advice.

--- error while writing to cd ------------
cdrecord: Input/output error. write_g5: scsi sendcmd: no error
CDB:  AA 00 00 01 F4 28 00 00 00 1F 00 00
status: 0x2 (CHECK CONDITION)
Sense Bytes: 70 00 05 00 00 00 00 12 00 00 00 00 24 00 00 00
Sense Key: 0x5 Illegal Request, Segment 0
Sense Code: 0x24 Qual 0x00 (invalid field in cdb) Fru 0x0
Sense flags: Blk 0 (not valid) 

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