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

Posted January 29, 2008 by Rob Rogers in Linux

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.
View more articles by Rob Rogers

The Conversation

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  • Aman

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

  • Daniel

    Works great thanks 🙂

  • http://crashlane.com Chris Lane

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

  • Mihailo Joksimovic

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

    Thanks again !

  • http://pthree.org Aaron Toponce

    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.

    • John

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

      • Olivier

        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.

        • http://briga.ilcannocchiale.it Briga

          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)


          • Jii

            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.

          • Anonymous

            way to go!

          • tiny122

            Thats the Ubuntu way !!! I like..

            Worked a treat.

          • Praveen

            > umount command to unmount the device.

    • R

      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.

      • http://luke.faraone.cc// Luke Faraone

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

        • feckoff

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

          • Andrew DeFaria

            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.

    • Ron

      readom is great, but it chokes on encrypted DVDs.

  • T_man

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

    Worked like a charm! Thanks for the article.

  • Jii

    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.

    • g

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

      • Jii

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

  • Will

    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.

  • http://tir38.com/ jason

    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.

  • Anonymous

    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…..

    • 97oldParisianTagger

      Hey guys this forum is awesome !!!!!

  • EuGenE

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hadi-Donk/1560152959 Hadi Donk

    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

  • Jorgon Gorgon

    Um, what is so inhuman about CLI?

    • Jii

      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.

      • Vanguy1977

        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.

        • Bkmfs

          Vanguy, you are not human.

  • http://www.americanrecordablemedia.com/ Buy Blank CD

    Great tip!

  • Indie

    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.

  • Jgps32327

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

  • http://UnmeritedPhotogrephy.nl FORMERxZOMBIE

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

    Thanx in advance!
    -Michel Merx.

    • Stefan Ghelbere

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

  • Antonis Koursoumis

    Awesome, Fast! Creating it now! Thanks mate!

  • MBD

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

  • juji

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

  • Yahya

    tried it in RedHat and worked fine

  • Sn3aky

    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.

  • Alex

    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.

  • MBi

    Working great.


    i.Insert cd or DVD

    ii.Open terminal

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