Learn how to Extract ISO Information With Linux

You've probably downloaded an image file before, and there's a good chance the popular ISO file extension was in use. These (usually rather large) files are essentially digital versions of optical media. All files on this CD are located in the ISO archive.

Linux CD-DVD ISO extraction feature

Like Apple MacOS and newer versions of Microsoft Windows, Linux has built-in support for mounting image files. This means you don't necessarily need third-party software to access ISO archives and the files they contain.

In fact, there are several ways of doing this so you can choose a method that suits you.

What is an ISO file?

A pile of CDsPhoto credit: Dewang Gupta / Unsplash

The image file format is a popular way of distributing software online because broadband speeds made it possible. If you've already installed a Linux distribution, you probably used an ISO file. If you don't have a version of Linux installed, finding an ISO file to download is likely your first step.

The ISO file format is a digital archive of the contents of an optical media disc. You can create an ISO image from any optical media format such as CD, DVD, and Blu-ray.

There is one notable exception. You cannot use the ISO file format to create an image of an audio CD because they do not use a computer file system. In these cases, consider the BIN / CUE image combinations instead.

ISO files use the ISO 9660 file system. In some cases, these images can also use the Universal Disc Format (UDF) file system. The data in the archive are uncompressed.

Why create an ISO?

ISO images allow you to burn your own Linux installation CD for use on your own computer or to give to someone else. Since Linux is free and open source software, no one threatens to sue you for distributing the software.

Today, many ISO images are too big to fit on a CD. While you can opt for a DVD, instructions often recommend a USB flash drive instead. Aside from installing Linux, there are numerous uses for a Live CD or USB stick.

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ISO files are not used exclusively for Linux. The format is a great way to make accurate backups of optical media or distribute other types of large programs.

Open an ISO file

Extract an ISO via the context menu

In all fairness, this job can be a lot easier than you think. Many distributions offer the option of extracting ISO images using the context menu. Find your ISO image in the file manager, right click and look for the Unpack here Possibility. You might just be pleasantly surprised!

If not, ISO reading apps are either pre-installed or available in the app store selected by your distribution.

Extracting an ISO with GNOME Archive Manager

If you don't want to extract all of the files at once, you don't have to. Instead, open the program your Linux distribution uses to manage compressed archives, e.g. B. in ZIP and TAR format. GNOME Archive Manager (also known as File Roller) is the default setting in many distributions, including Ubuntu and Fedora. So we'll use this as an example.

Choose first Menu> Open and navigate to the ISO you want to open (the button with three horizontal lines is the Menu Button). The files and folders it contains should now be displayed, just like opening a ZIP archive. You can now choose which bits you want to extract and where on your computer these files should be placed.

Not using GNOME?

No problem. Opening ISO files is a standard part of many Linux archive management apps. For example, in KDE Plasma, you can open ISO files using the Ark archive tool instead. Engrampa is an archive manager for the MATE desktop environment that can also open ISO files.

If you want an approach that works regardless of your preferred distribution or desktop environment, and on computers without a graphical interface, you should use the command line method instead.

Extract an ISO from the command line

First you need to create a folder where you can deploy the image. To do this, open your command line editor and type:

sudo mkdir / mnt / iso

Enter your password when prompted. Now we can mount the file by typing:

sudo mount -o loop .iso / mnt / iso

Replace with the location of your ISO file. For example:

sudo mount -o loop /home/user/Downloads/image1.iso / mnt / iso

You can now navigate to the folder you created and access the files within the ISO. At this point you are welcome to close the terminal. You can use your file manager to browse the ISO and select the files you want.

However, if you want to extract the entire ISO from the command line, you can copy the contents of the folder by typing:

sudo cp -r / mnt / iso / home / user / documents

This command copies the entire lot to a separate "ISO" folder in your documents folder. The -r option instructs the operation to copy recursively. This means that you also want to copy the contents of the folder, not just the folder itself.

Note: If the previous command fails to mount your ISO, you may also want to try:

mount -o loop -t iso9660 .iso / mnt / iso

Yes, the process really is that simple. In most cases, there is no need to download any additional software.

However, if you want a full app for that one job, check out AcetoneISO. It's a free, open source alternative to DAEMON Tools, an ISO management app available for Windows and macOS. It may be familiar if you're already used to doing the job in this way or want additional functionality.

If you really want to get your hands dirty, you can try combining multiple ISO files together using a script.

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About the author

Bertel King
(324 articles published)

Bertel is a digital minimalist who writes from a laptop with physical privacy switches and an operating system recommended by the Free Software Foundation. He values ​​ethics over functions and helps others take control of their digital lives.

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