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Make ISO images on Linux November 21, 2010

Posted by Tournas Dimitrios in Linux.

CDs and DVDs don’t have the eternal life, so you might want to back them up as ISO images. All the files and properties of the original disc, stored in a single file. You can also create ISO images and store them on your network for easy distribution of software installations. Here’s how to create and mount ISO images on Linux.

Of course you can always install and use graphical disc authoring software like GnomeBaker or K3b, but that’s outside the scope of this this article. I just want to show you how you can quickly create an ISO image without installing additional software.

Command line : 

We’re going to use the command line tool dd tool for this. Insert the disc that you want to copy and open a terminal.

Create a cdrom image

Now in the terminal type:

sudo dd if=/dev/cdrom of=cd.iso

A little explanation

  • sudo makes sure the command is executed as root. That’s needed only if the user you’re working under doesn’t have enough permissions to access the device. But it’s ignored if it’s not needed so you can just ignore it as well.
  • dd stands for Disk Dump
  • if stands for Input File
  • of stands for Output File

Create a dvd image

For a DVD image, your device is probably called /dev/dvd instead of /dev/cdrom so the command would look like this:

sudo dd if=/dev/dvd of=dvd.iso

Create a scsi cdrom image

For a SCSI CDROM image, your device is probably called /dev/scd0 instead of /dev/cdrom so the command would look like this:

sudo dd if=/dev/scd0 of=cd.iso
Mounting an image 

Once you’ve created an ISO image you can mount it as if it was a normal disc device (loopback) device. This will give you access to the files in the ISO without you having to burn it to a disc first. For example if you wanted to mount cd.iso to /mnt/isoimage you would run the following commands:

mkdir -p /mnt/isoimage
mount -o loop -t iso9660 cd.iso /mnt/isoimage


To unmount a currently mounted volume, type:

umount -lf /mnt/isoimage

/mnt/isoimage is the location of your mounted volume.

Tag: ISO image :

An ISO image (.iso) is a disk image of an ISO 9660 file system. ISO 9660 is an international standard originally devised for storing data on CD-ROM. More loosely, it refers to any optical disc image, even a UDF image.

As is typical for disc images, in addition to the data files that are contained in the ISO image, it also contains all the filesystem metadata, including boot code, structures, and attributes. All of this information is contained in a single file. These properties make it an attractive alternative to physical media for the distribution of software that requires this additional information as it is simple to retrieve over the Internet.

Some of the common uses include the distribution of operating systems, such as Linux or BSD systems, and LiveCDs.

Most CD/DVD authoring utilities can deal with ISO images: Producing them either by copying the data from existing media or generating new ones from existing files, or using them to create a copy on physical media. Most operating systems (including Mac OS, Mac OS X, BSD, Linux, and Windows with Microsoft Virtual CD-ROM panel) allow these images to be mounted as if they were physical discs, making them somewhat useful as a universal archive format.

Console emulators, such as ePSXe, and many other emulators that read from CD/DVD, are able to run ISO/BIN (and other similar formats) instead of running directly from the CD drive. Better performance is achieved by running an ISO since there is no waiting for the drive to be ready and the hard drive I/O speed is many times faster than the CD/DVD drive.


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