There are three good programs for making flawless copies of CDs: Exact Audio Copy (Windows and Linux), Ruby Ripper (Linux and Mac), and X Lossless Decoder (Mac). You really shouldn’t be copying CDs without using one of these programs as you’re likely to get lots of skips. Ideally, I would prefer to use Ruby Ripper because it’s Free Software, but Exact Audio Copy runs well under Wine and is the program that most people on the Internet expect you to use, so it’s worth learning how to get it set up properly. There are several guides for setting up EAC properly (a lengthy process as the default settings are stupid beyond belief), but many of them are out-dated. The best up-to-date tutorial is here.
To set it up on GNU/Linux, install Wine from Synaptic, download the newest version of EAC, and install it with Wine:
EAC will show up on the Applications menu under Wine: Programs. Open it and then follow the above guide exactly, checking all of the boxes identified in the screenshots and taking special care to get your dvd drive’s offset configured properly.
Finally, to copy a CD in EAC:
1) Put the CD in the drive
2) Make sure that the album, artist, genre, date, and song titles are correct. (Don’t ignore this step!)
3) Press F4 (This will check your CD’s offsets.)
4) On the menu select Action: Create CUE Sheet: Multiple Wav Files with Gaps… (Noncompliant)
5) Press Ctrl-A then Shift-F6 (This selects all of the tracks and then runs the Action: Test & Copy Selected Tracks: Compressed command)
6) When the CD is done, check to make sure that all of the entires in the CRC column say OK. If any of them don’t, clean the disc and try again.
7) Make sure to include the .cue and .log sheet in the same folder as the resulting FLAC files.
The above steps will produce perfect FLAC copies of your CDs. If you want to make MP3’s, you can use a separate program to convert the resulting FLAC files to MP3s. I find that Gnormalize works well for converting audio files provided that you turn off the normalize option (Normalization Type: None). The preferred method of making MP3s is to use the LAME encoder, set the quality to 2, and the variable setting to 0. MP3s made at the V 0 setting should be indistinguishable from considerably larger MP3s made at the 320 setting (the highest constant bit rate setting). (And if you’re ripping to MP3, you really do care about file size.)