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I use k3b as a frontend for CD burning, which uses cdrdao. When I wasn't using scsi-emulation it gave me an error message, that cdrdao doesn't support atapi devices, that i would have to get the cvs version for that. When i enabled scsi emulation (much simplier then I imagined), the errors went away.
For me, I was having trouble burning CD's until I included scsi emulation, which fixed the problem. I'd say that if your system already works fine without it, there's no reason to put it in (for the simple reason that, well, it's already working the way you want it to work) -- J.W.
I have also questioned this.
From the file README.atapi (xcdroast 0.98alpha-14 docs):
Please note that this is usally not required anymore [scsi emulation], as X-CD-Roast now
supports ATAPI devices directly. But using the direct ATAPI support
causes a lot of problems. Accessing devices takes a much longer time
and there is no DMA support, which will result in big CPU problems.
Well, this is from someone who I guess knows what he is saying.
I think scsi emulation will be obsolete in the 2.6 kernel when it is ready, but I reckon its stick with
append="hdx=ide-scsi" for now...