a. If you mean TAO (track at once), the 4163B does indeed support it. Multisession does work properly. See the Nero infotool screen below of my drive. I've used it in windows on DVD+RW discs but not on DVD-R ones though. So it is probably your software.
b. Not sure in linux but in BSD a "dmesg" command will show you a list of hardware detected at boot time. Examine the end of the string describing the 4163. It should be something like this :
"acd0: DVDR (DL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-4163B/A104) at at0-master PIO4"
Linux names it's drives different of course. The bold bit is the firmware version. It's been a while since I used linux but I think the dmesg command should exist in it as well.
Alternatively, you can reboot the system and watch the part where the BIOS detects what drives you have. A similar string will show up and the firmware version is in around the same place.
c. No. TAO is already there. Your software doesn't seem to recognise it.
d. A104. Unfortunately, the fact is you will need windows to flash the firmware. It's distributed as an .EXE file that you must run. :sad: Any version from 98-XP will do I believe.