The ND-3500A is a dual-layer multi-format DVD Writer. It can handle any of the following formats: DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD0+R, DVD+R9, DVD+RW, DVD-Video, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-Audio, CD Extra, CD Text, CD-I Ready, CD-Bridge, Photo-CD, Video-CD, Hybrid-CD. The only common format NOT suported is DVD-RAM.
The read speeds are 48x for CDs and 16x for DVDs. The write speeds are as follows: 16x DVD-R, 4x DVD-R Dual Layer, 4x DVD+R9, 4x DVD-RW, 16x DVD+R, 4x DVD+RW, 48x CD-R, 24x CD-RW.
The drive fits a standard 5.25in drive bay and connects via a parallel ATA connector (rated as UDMA/33). In includes a 2 MB cache.
Any CD burning software will do, but K3b is probably about the best. This allows for the creation of both CDs and DVDs. The DVD creation capability is only available in later versions of K3b, which requires a reasonably modern version KDE. It is possible to back-port K3B to earlier versions of KDE and Qt (with a few minor source code changes) if you are using an older distro, but if you are using an reasonably modern distro, you should find that it either comes with k3B, or that it is easily installed.
I have successfully created both CDs and DVDs under Linux using K3b and the NEC drive and find it to be both fast and reliable.