Ubuntu: How To Create an ISO Image from a CD or DVD

I do a great deal of experimenting with virtual computer environments and utilize ISO images quite often instead of constantly going back to the same CD repeatedly. Ubuntu makes it easy to create an ISO image from your CD or DVD.

1. Insert the CD or DVD that you want to make an ISO image of.

2. Open a terminal window.

3. Execute the following command:cat /dev/scd0 > /home/shamanstears/test.iso

where /dev/scd0 is the device name for your drive (to find this, go to the Main Menu, click on System, mouseover Administration and select System Monitor. Click the File Systems tab. The device name will be listed in the Device column). Also make sure to change the path and iso filename to the desired path and filename.

The disc will begin to spin and the ISO image will start being constructed. Once it has completed, you have an ISO image of your CD. To verify that the image was properly created, mount the ISO file and check the contents.


About Rob Rogers

Once a prolific author here on Tech-Recipes, Rob has moved on to greener pastures.
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44 Responses to “Ubuntu: How To Create an ISO Image from a CD or DVD”

  1. October 20, 2008 at 2:05 pm, Aman said:

    use sudo with the command for permission, if the account you are using is a sudoer.
    eg: $ sudo cat /dev/scd0 > *.iso


  2. November 23, 2008 at 1:20 pm, Daniel said:

    Works great thanks :)


  3. January 19, 2009 at 5:55 pm, Chris Lane said:

    Creating the ISO right now as we speak! Thanks, this was a pretty simple command that works.


  4. January 31, 2009 at 9:53 am, Mihailo Joksimovic said:

    Thanks alot, I didn’t know that it’s so easy to create .iso on Ubuntu :-)

    Thanks again !


  5. February 13, 2009 at 7:59 pm, Aaron Toponce said:

    Gah! That’s horrid, for a number of reasons.

    First, you’re using the wrong tool for the job. This would be the equivalent of using a wrench to hammer a nail in the wall. They both get the job done, but gah!

    Second, this command doesn’t have any checking. What happens if you have some wild hard drive activity, and you don’t get all the bits copied? You have a bad ISO, and you won’t know it.

    Instead, you should be using the right tool for the right job. In this case, you need to check out the ‘readom’ command (read optical media). It does exactly what you’re looking for, and has built in error checking.

    readom dev=/dev/scd0 f=/home/shamanstears/test.iso

    If you want to record the ISO, then you should be using ‘wodim’, not ‘dd’, or any other horrible “solution”.

    wodim -v -eject /home/shamanstears/test.iso

    This will burn your ‘test.iso’ to your blank CD, assuming it’s already inserted, and eject when it’s finished. It’ll even be verbose about it’s output along the way. These sort of shoddy tips and tricks are what get a lot of users in trouble. Remember- use the right tools for the right job, and everyone will be happy.


    • March 05, 2009 at 10:49 pm, John said:

      Ubuntu Intrepid, simply right hand click CD or DVD desktop icons for context menu to copy, or write. Simple, no fuss and a result..


      • April 06, 2009 at 9:57 am, Olivier said:

        Ubuntu use readom when you right click on the icon.
        So the method of Aaron Toponse is the good one if you want to do it in command line.


        • May 08, 2009 at 7:46 am, Briga said:

          I have installed 9.04 Jaunty and now right click and copy brings up Brasero that I believe does create an image (.toc) but not an ISO file. So if you want to stay on the safe side go with Aaron (just make sure the cd is not mounted! Gnome automount and that prevents the command from working)



          • June 25, 2009 at 3:49 am, Jii said:

            Since Ubuntu is supposed to be “Linux for human beings”, here’s a method for human beings. Just right click on the disk icon, then click “Copy disk…”. I’m using Jaunty, and the default destination file is a .toc type. To change it, click Properties, and then at the bottom of the window change the file type to .iso, or .cue, or .raw, or whatever you want. Then run it, and there ya go.

          • August 18, 2009 at 7:56 pm, Anonymous said:

            way to go!

          • April 03, 2011 at 8:37 am, tiny122 said:

            Thats the Ubuntu way !!! I like..

            Worked a treat.

          • May 23, 2012 at 5:46 am, Praveen said:

            > umount command to unmount the device.

    • December 01, 2009 at 7:59 pm, R said:

      there is no need to be so offensive, we’re not all born programmers. You could have just pointed out the difference without attacking the person. Ok you method rocks and everything, but please try to have more self control.


      • February 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm, Luke Faraone said:

        Uh, nowhere in his message did Aaron attack the author, rather, he said (rather forcefully, admittedly) that the instructions given may cause problems.


        • August 24, 2010 at 11:30 am, feckoff said:

          You never forget the way people make you feel. No Excuses.


          • May 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm, Andrew DeFaria said:

            F the way strangers feel. If you don’t attack them directly and they get offended then in my mind that’s *their* problem! It sounds like a problem they suffer from often. Too f’n bad.

    • May 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm, Ron said:

      readom is great, but it chokes on encrypted DVDs.


  6. November 12, 2009 at 5:28 am, T_man said:

    cat /dev/scd0 > /home/myusername/Desktop/nameyourcdhere.iso

    Worked like a charm! Thanks for the article.


  7. November 12, 2009 at 11:28 pm, Jii said:

    Why do articles like this pop up, where they tell you to use the terminal when you don’t need to?

    You can create an ISO image with a couple clicks.
    No terminal window required!

    Ubuntu is Linux for Human Beings, so why write misleading articles making it seem so much harder to use than it is? You should explain “this is for people that prefer the shell prompt, normal users should simply right click the disk icon.” Otherwise people get the wrong idea about Ubuntu.


    • December 09, 2009 at 12:35 pm, g said:

      So Jii can you please share your knowledge on how to do this ?


      • December 09, 2009 at 11:32 pm, Jii said:

        Sure, I already did. Just scroll up a little and you’ll see it. It’s a reply underneath Aaron’s comment.


  8. December 18, 2009 at 2:56 pm, Will said:

    To find the device name you can just type in the terminal: mount . I know that’s not a big revelation for some, but it should list the mounted devices with there /dev/ names.


  9. January 24, 2010 at 2:35 am, jason said:

    Woow. Some serious panty twisters here. Don’t assume that using the mouse + windows environment is somehow more “human” than typing. You only think its better because thats what Windows and Apple have taught you. John and Briga’s comments shows that things do change in Ubuntu from version to version. Using the command line might actually be a more consistent format. Besides, each person does things differently; providing the same cookie cutter solution for everyone is rather un-human.


  10. March 26, 2010 at 10:48 am, Anonymous said:

    would you be kind enough to explain also how to write back teh iso image from DVD to a blank DVD as a back up copy. thanks…..


    • March 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm, 97oldParisianTagger said:

      Hey guys this forum is awesome !!!!!


  11. April 23, 2010 at 8:26 am, EuGenE said:

    a better way would be :
    ( for example for dvd )
    dd if=/dev/dvd of=disk.iso


  12. November 01, 2010 at 3:24 pm, Hadi Donk said:

    A simple to use CD/DVD burning application for GNOME use Brasero :
    1. Insert Your disk to CD/DVD
    2. Select Disc Copy Menu
    3. Change select a disc to write to -> Image File
    4. Properties buton : Save Location for image file and
    5. Change : Disc Image Type select ISO9660 image
    6. The last Create Image


  13. December 12, 2010 at 11:03 pm, Jorgon Gorgon said:

    Um, what is so inhuman about CLI?


    • December 12, 2010 at 11:07 pm, Jii said:

      Ask 10 random humans what CLI is. Then ask 10 random humans what “point and click” is. You’ll see which one is more human real quick.


      • January 13, 2011 at 4:22 am, Vanguy1977 said:

        Jli, if you did that, you’d be determining which option is more popular, not necessarily which is more “human”.

        A lot of websites for Windows provide command-line solutions for things that could also be accomplished via a GUI. Sometimes it’s quicker and sometimes it’s a matter of how much things change from one OS version to another.


        • March 08, 2011 at 6:26 am, Bkmfs said:

          Vanguy, you are not human.


  14. January 05, 2011 at 6:54 am, Buy Blank CD said:

    Great tip!


  15. January 09, 2011 at 7:58 pm, Indie said:

    I tried using dd to create an ISO of a SLES11 DVD but instead of creating a 3GB image it created a 4.4GB iso – a full DVD’s worth with all unneeded rubbish. I found a way around this by using isoinfo to get the actual DVD iso size and only copy the required data.

    isoinfo -d -i /dev/dvd

    from the output you want the ‘Volume size’ and ‘Logical block size’ which is generally 2048. Then use dd to copy it, i.e.

    dd if=/dev/dvd of=/local/dvd.iso bs=${logical_block_size} count=${volume_size} &

    note the ‘&’ at the end to background the process. You can then use

    pkill -USR1 dd

    to see how much has been copied.


  16. January 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm, Jgps32327 said:

    i’ve tried these commands but it’ll only copy 1/4 of the software.. how do i get the full software to copy?


  17. February 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm, FORMERxZOMBIE said:

    If I only type: cat /dev/scd0
    Where will the file reside?

    Thanx in advance!
    -Michel Merx.


    • March 07, 2011 at 3:08 pm, Stefan Ghelbere said:

      Will just “fly over” your screen (stdout). No file will be created on HDD.


  18. April 05, 2011 at 6:08 pm, Antonis Koursoumis said:

    Awesome, Fast! Creating it now! Thanks mate!


  19. February 03, 2012 at 1:11 am, MBD said:

    You may also use K3b, which is the easiest option in Kubuntu 11.10


  20. March 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm, juji said:

    i wonder why people fight in blog comments. they should make their own blog.


  21. May 08, 2012 at 9:15 am, Yahya said:

    tried it in RedHat and worked fine


  22. May 15, 2012 at 4:33 am, Sn3aky said:

    Cripes! Its a room full of stupid people feeding each other stupid cookies. Aaron tried to stop the bad practice, but since stupid is a disease that is taught and easier to be a disciple of the clan carried the torch strongly.


  23. July 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm, Alex said:

    I love Rob, he shared his practice (worked) with everyone although it could be not so right. But you should have your own judgement under which circumstance it could be used safely.

    I love Aaron as well, he pointed out the better solution than that dirty, but direct way to solve the problem.

    Like saying “All roads to Rome”, there are always many different ways to achieve the same goal. That’s the beauty of Linux, it gives you millions of choice.

    I love everyone here to contribute his idea and comment here to rich this community. But I don’t like the idea talking about human and inhuman.

    True, Ubuntu is for human, but keep in mind that human has huge varieties. So debate on CLI and GUI does never make any sense, just like you debate on apple and banana.

    Again, I love Rob and Aaron.


  24. June 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm, MBi said:

    Working great.


  25. April 07, 2014 at 10:31 pm, ARIVAZHAGAN.P said:

    i.Insert cd or DVD

    ii.Open terminal

    iii.Type”dd if=/dev/cdrom of=~/filename.iso


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