Use an ISO as if it were a real CD

There are a few occasions when you may need or want to use an ISO image without actually burning it. You may want to grab a file off of a CD, or maybe you’re storing an image of a disk for use in Wine. Using mount points, this is an easy task.

The Quick Way

On a recent GNOME desktop, opening or mounting ISO images (and other archives) is very simple. Simply right-click the image, and select Open With > Archive Mounter. Done! The image will show as a drive in Places or on your desktop.

This is the easiest way to grab a file from an image or an archive without having to open an archive manager or extract everything. But, it has its limitations. Because it is mounted under GVFS, it is typically only available on a GNOME desktop. Wine may also have trouble understanding where the image was mounted to as well, and reconfiguring Wine every time you want to change discs is no fun.

The More Reliable Way

Almost as quickly as the previous solution, you can mount the image in a terminal:

sudo mount -o loop /path/to/image.iso /media/cdrom

We’re using the CD drive location here to keep things simple: GNOME and Wine will both think that it is just a normal CD or DVD. The location of your CD drive on your filesystem may differ; check your distribution documentation for details. The -o loop option is needed because image.iso is not a block device, as the mount command would expect, but a file.

To remove the mount point again, point the umount command at the location of the CD drive:

sudo umount /media/cdrom

Bonus: The Graphical More Reliable Way

If you find yourself swapping disk images out frequently, you may find Gmountiso useful. You can easily swap out multiple images and mount points, and it works in the same manner as the mount/umount commands do.

Avatar for jacob Jacob Peddicord - http://jacob.peddicord.net/

Jacob is a web developer, student, and programmer from Ohio. He is a staff member at the Ubuntu Forums and is most likely a fanboy of the distribution. He loves to write in code and words, play video games, and rant about topics most would have abandoned long ago. Jacob uses GNOME and is never seen running stable software, much to the demise of his laptop.

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Discussion: Use an ISO as if it were a real CD

  1. # Posted on 25 May 2009 at 11:20 PM

    This is great for my netbook... I get lazy a lot and don't want to break out the external disc drive just for a small ISO file that is giving me trouble. Thanks Jacob!



  2. Christophe (guest)

    # Posted on 02 June 2009 at 12:16 AM

    Nice article, I usually don't bother to look at the graphical tools for such things. I would suggest to add an argument to the mount command to make the mounted location read-only. To prevent unaware programs from modifying your ISO ;-)



  3. # Posted on 02 June 2009 at 12:19 AM

    Christophe said:

    Nice article, I usually don't bother to look at the graphical tools for such things. I would suggest to add an argument to the mount command to make the mounted location read-only. To prevent unaware programs from modifying your ISO ;-)

    From what I've tried, it mounts read-only by default. In fact, I'm not entirely sure how to get it to mount in rw mode; was never able to get that to work.



  4. Christophe (guest)

    # Posted on 02 June 2009 at 08:00 AM

    OK From under a dosbox, if you need to run a DOS environment, you can simulate a CD-ROM by the following: mount <i>letter</i> <directory that contains the CD data> -t cdrom -usecd

    For instance: mount E /home/myself/myCD -t cdrom -usecd



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