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Burning Linux ISO Images

Burning iso Basics


Have you burned (created) an CD image (ISO) before and tried an install of any other Linux distro?

If so, then you will be OK with Puppy, or already know how to burn an iso image and do not need this tutorial. Successfully burning a Linux iso image before, tells you that your drive is probably functioning properly and the burning software that you are using is set up corectly.

After downloading the ISO, verify the integrity of the download by checking the Md5 sum. Do this before burning the ISO.

A slow burn speed is best. A slow speed of 4x or 8x will increase the probability of getting a working and quality ISO.

What is one of the most common mistakes new users of Linux make? It is improperly burning iso images. Just burning the file on a cdr media as a data file does not properly set up the disk or make the disk bootable (which is what you want to do). Do not simply burn the iso as a data cd. You must burn it as an iso image.

In order to properly burn an iso image, you must instruct your burning software to use the "burn image" function. Also, make sure to burn all the images that you downloaded this way. For example, in Nero, you go to the main file menu and just choose the "burn image" option (not "burn bootable image").

Do not use the Windows XP burner utility to burn your images. The XP utility only burns a data disk, which is not what you want. Do a Google search for a free XP or Windows compatible CD burning utility that will burn ISOs. One example is BurnCDCC. (Direct download link). Or look under the "What Burning Software are you using?" section of this page.
Another, less often seen mistake is to extract the iso files to a hard drive, or extract the image to a directory using a utility like isobuster, then attempt to burn the directories and files to a cdr disk. This will not work. Also, just putting the iso files on a hard drive does not make them bootable or usable.

Make sure that you have the bios set correctly to boot the cd drive before the hard drive. Many systems do not do this by default. The system may seem to check the CDROM drive, but not seek the drive for a boot image. The order can be floppy, cdrom, then hdd0, or in older systems (if you have two choices) cdrom, then hdd0. Make sure to save your changes and have the cd disk in the drive when the system re-boots.

What Burning Software are you using?

The software that you are using to burn the iso file drastically affects how the iso files are burned to a cdr disk. Equally as important, burn the images at a slow speed - such as 4X or 8x. The images do not burn correctly if they are burned at too high speed. You may need to change the burning speed of your software for the burn to assure that the speed is set low enough to properly burn the images.

Do not choose any options in the burning software to make the CD bootable, as the "burn image" function will automatically lay out the files properly and make the cd bootable for you.

If you are using a Linux distro to burn your images, try K3b. It automatically checks the md5sum of the image, so you can check it against the author's verification numbers. It is now included in most Linux distros. If you are using Puppy, then you should use Burniso2CD because then you can't go wrong.

If you elect to use Windows (this is your first Linux iso burn), then try Nero. If you are looking for a free burning utility, CDBurnerXP Pro should do the trick.

Another fine utility for Windows is BurnCDCC which is designed to burn iso images exclusively. Good for those newbies that don't want the hassle in figuring all this out! link to their homepage. link to direct download.

Remember...if you go slow, you will be ready to go!

What medium did you burn the images on, CD-RW disks or CD-R disks?

While this may seem obvious, the quality of the media you burn the iso image to can determine the resulting quality and usability of your burn image on a disk, as well as the ability of your cdrom drive to read the image.

Always use quality cdrom media. Try to resist buying cheap media, just because the price was right. Make sure that the media is compatible with your CDRW drive in terms of speed and type. If you have 4X rated cdr disks, you can only burn at that top speed. If you have faster rated media, burn the iso's at 4X or 8X.

How Old is your CD-ROM/CD-RW Drive?

Usually there are no problems burning CDRW disks for a distro and booting them from the same CDRW drive that they were burned on. However, older CDROM (not cdrw) drives often have incompatability issues with CDRW media burned on newer CDRW drives.

The most frequently seen problem is burning the cdr media on a newer CDRW drive, then attempting to boot or use the burnt CDRW disk on an old CDROM drive. Always attempt to boot the burned image with the same cdrw drive that you burned the images on. If you burned the images on a cdrw drive, then attempt to boot the image on another system with a CDROM drive that is older, this can be a reason for a variety of boot errors that you will see when trying to install the distro.

Laptops are another issue. Depending on the make/model and age of the laptop cdrom drive, burned iso images can be troublesome. On my Thinkpad, I had a stock 24X cdrom drive. It would not handle bootable iso images burned on CDRW disks. interestingly, I switched it out for another 20X slimline cdrom that I had and it had no problem with the burned disks that I tried.

Older CD drives are more likely to be able to read/boot CD-R disks than CD-RW disks.

Some computers/drives cannot boot multi-session disks, but will boot ordinary single-session disks.

Where and how did you get the ISO's and download them?

The least obvious issue.

Occasionally you can get a bad download of the iso image. Not common, but it happens. The system will boot the cdr, but fail at some point during the install. Modem connections tend to be interrupted when downloading large files (such as iso images). So, don't be surprised if the image download is not intact. Try to use a download manager when fetching images, if you can, so if the download gets interrupted, you can resume the download where it left off.
Opera is probably the most reliable browser for downloads.

Did you verify the iso's that you downloaded (that the checksums were OK)? Mandrake will also verify the burned disks for you during it's initial install procedure.

Hardware Issues

How the CDROM or CDRW drive is configured in your system can make a difference. Some drives like to be set up as slave, while others like master or cable select. This is especially pertinent if you have built a system yourself and installed two drives, say one burner and one CDROM drive.

If you have set up such a system, double check the manufacturers instructions for the drives to get their suggestions on how to set the jumpers. Make sure that the jumpers are set as per the manufacturer's suggestion. Consult the diagram on the CDROM device itself, or the instruction manual. Of course, if you have a prebuilt system (and have not installed any of the drives) this is not relevent.

If you run into wierd behavior with a drive, especially with using the drive in general, consult the motherboard's web site to see if they have any faq's on CDRW or CDROM issues. This may reveal some possibilities.

If you still have problems with the drive, a remote possibility is a bad ide cable or improperly matched cable(s). Consider this as well. Remember, the outermost cable connection on an IDE cable is primary, the innermost is slave. Most ide cables are marked to guide you.

Finally, make sure that the pin assignment is correct. Pin 1 on the ide cable to pin 1 on the CDROM drive. Consult the CDROM's users manual if you are confused about this. This is less of an issue with modern cables, as they have a notch on the cable connection that will allow the cable to be inserted only one way. Ditto for newer CDROM and CDRW drives.

Using X-CD-Roast (Pupget)

I switched to using Xcdroast and have since had no problems with burning disks. Available via Pupget. It's a little less than intuitive to use unfortunately.

If this is the first time you've tried to burn anything you'll have to run the CD/DVD drive wizard from the main menu.
Make sure it points to the correct drives for all three categories,
then click on "Save SCI Emulation".
It will save the settings and reboot the computer, after which you "should" be good to go.

To burn an ISO with it go into setup and look under HD settings, take note of the "Temporary Image Storage Directories" as you need to put your ISO image in this directory(or change it to point to where the ISO is already located).
Then leave setup and go straight to "Create CD" and then "Write Tracks".
You can skip "Master Tracks" because the ISO image is already mastered.
There will be two small windows with your image on the right.
Click on your image and then click "add".
Click the tab that says "Write Tracks"
finally click the button at the bottom that says "Write Tracks"

You can use md5sum to check that the iso file you are using is correct.
It is even possible to make an iso file from a CD, and then use md5sum to make sure it is right. But this can get complicated - technical details to learn about.
If you have a choice, it is best to burn an ordinary simple CD from iso in DAO (Disk-At-Once) mode.

see also:
BootingFromCD - to boot from your new CD
CreatingMultiSessionFromPuppy - to burn a multi session Puppy CD/DVD from Puppy or Windows

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