Edit and create your bootable iso image – the easy way

March 31, 2007

ISO Master by Andrew Smith

Reviewed by www.Softpedia.com

ISO Master is an open-source, easy to use, graphical CD image editor for Linux and BSD. Basically, you can use this program to extract files from an ISO, add files to an ISO, and create bootable ISOs – all in a graphical user interface. It can open both ISO and NRG files but can only save as ISO. ISO Master is based on bkisofs – a library for reading, modifying and writing ISO images. Some features:

· Display file/directory contents of the image and filesystem in two panels and be able to navigate them.

· Display file sizes for files on image/filesystem.

· Sort by name or by size

· Select any number of items in the file browsers.

· Extract selected from image to the filesystem

· Delete selected from image.


About ISO Master
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Have you ever wanted or needed to add or remove files from a CD image without breaking the boot record or the whole image? If you look hard enough on Google, you’re likely to find a way, by running a number of long, scary commands in a terminal and even then, you won’t be certain that your CD image is safe. Fortunately, an open source application for Linux has been developed, which enables you to create and modify ISO9660 files, without the risk of breaking anything – ISO Master.ISO Master enables you to extract or add files to an ISO, create ISOs rom scratch and even make the new ISOs bootable, all in a simple, easy to use graphical interface. The application can open both ISO and NRG files but unfortunately, it can only save as ISO. ISO Master is based on bkisofs, a library for reading, modifying and writing ISO images. The library shares the same package as ISO Master so you won’t have to install anything separately, except for the usual requirements that may
appear while compiling the source package.

Installing ISO Master is a rather easy process, thanks to the variety of pre-installed packages available. There are two .deb packages for Ubuntu Dapper and newer, as well as for Debian testing/unstable, for i386 and amd64 architectures. You can also find RPM packages for Fedora Core 5 and 6 and a TGZ package designed for Slackware. For Gentoo users, an ebuild file has been made available, while Archlinux and FreeBSD users can find a package on the websites dedicated to their operating system. Moreover, surprisingly or not, there are also packages available for smaller distributions, such as SLAX, NimbleX or Puppy Linux. Alternatively, you can download and compile the source packages, which requires your system to have installed a C compiler, make and some packages required for compiling GTK2 application, such as gtk2 developer libraries and pkg config. On an Ubuntu system, you can install these by running apt-get install libgtk2.0-dev pkg-config. Once installed, you can start ISO Master either from the newly createdshortcut on the Desktop (not available on all distributions/desktop environments), from the shortcut created under ‘Utilities’ in the KDE Menu or from a terminal, by typing ‘isomaster’.

Its interface is very simple and easy to use. Each button has its function explained through tooltips and also, there’s a small help document available under the Help menu, Overview (or by pressing F1 on the keyboard). Other menus are Image, which provides functions for creating a new image, opening an existing image or saving the currently modifying image as a custom name. From the Image menu, you can also view the image proprieties, which provide the creation time, volume
name, published and allows you to choose whether the filenames should save RockRidge and Joliet selected, and the Quit function. The View menu allows you to Refresh the current directory, view the hidden files and sort directories first. The BootRecord menu allows you to view the current bootrecords proprieties, save the bootrecord to drive, delete it or add a new one from the selected file, from a custom location on the drive or from a floppy disk. The Settings menu allows you to choose whether to scan for duplicate files or follow symlinks.

The interface is basically divided into two main parts, the drive browser at the top and the ISO browser at the bottom. Each browser has its own toolbar with various buttons. The upper browser (drive), provides two buttons: go back and create new directory, while the lower browser (ISO), provides five buttons: go back, create new directory, add the selected file in the drive browser to the ISO, extract the selected file in the ISO browser to the drive browser location and delete the selected file in the lower browser. Also on the lower browser, it’s displayed an estimated size of the ISO file.

Using ISO Master is quite simple. To open an ISO file, simply click on Image menu and Open. To create a new ISO file, click on Image and New. To add some files to the ISO, select them from the drive browser and click the ‘Add to ISO’ button on the lower browser’s toolbar. To extract files from the ISO, select them in the ISO browser and click ‘Extract from ISO’ button on the same toolbar. You can also create new directories or delete files on both the ISO and your local filesystem. Once you have created or made modifications to a CD image, you can save It as a custom name, but only followed by the .iso extension. You can’t Also overwrite the original ISO.

The Good

ISO Master is an open source graphical (GUI) application for Linux which enables users to create and modify ISO9660 files; ISO images and NRG (Nero) images. It allows you to create an ISO from scratch, add or remove files and directories from or to a CD image and also create bootable CDs using various record types: no-emulation (isolinux, microsoft Windows), 1.2, 1.44 and 2.88 floppy disk emulation. It also supports RockRidge and Joliet file names.

The Bad

Nothing much, except for the documentation which skips the BootRecord section. A beginner user wouldn’t know what those floppy disks are or where to get a bootrecord from.

The Truth

ISO Master allows you to modify the content of an ISO file without damaging the bootrecord and ruining the image’s bootable capabilities. If you ever need to add or remove content from a CD Image, then ISO Master is the application you should use!

Check out some screenshots below:


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Install Ubuntu on external USB Hard Disk

March 5, 2007

I have a company notebook with encrypted HDD. I cannot change anything and, as usual,is a windows xp2 system. The only way I can boot linux easily is running a USB pen installation. I use SLAX, it works pretty well, configurable, fast. The issue with USB pen is that is not a complete installation, it runs in memory and not all the distribution can be run from there. Plus all the limit of running an OS from a small memory.

While is possible to install a minimal version of ubuntu on a USB Pen, this is not recommended. First of all the Flash drive are not build to work with continuous read and write access, as required for a full installation of Ubuntu or any other distribution.

The best way is to install your Linux distribution on a 2.5″ USB HDD, it is cheap, fast, reliable and it is like to run your distribution from your PC HDD. How to do that is a less than 1 hour job, easy even for novice. I suggest to prepare the partition before to start any installation, though Ubuntu installer gives the opportunity to do it during the installation. I recommend to create at least 3 partition: one for the root, one for the swap and the third for some free space to share with windows.

Let’s start.

Prerequisite: In this guide I suppose that you have at least the knowledge on how to partition a hard disk, run a live linux distribution and in general how to use a Linux at basic. It is better to use a desktop where you can disconnect all the IDE or SATA drive.

1) Prepare your HDD. You can use the live CD of Ubuntu Edgy. Boot, connect the USB HDD, run gparted. Don’t forget to un-mount the HDD before doing change to the partition table.

2) On a 80GB HDD, I suggest 15GB ext3 for the Ubuntu system, 1GB for the swap file and the rest for a FAT32 partition.

3) Disconnect all your fixed HDD and boot the CD with the installation. Just leave connected the USB HDD.

4) During the Ubuntu installation, the system will ask for automatic or manual partitioning. Choose manual and put the mount point of the 15GB to the “/” (root). I suggest to use the alternate CD of Ubuntu that enable a text installation. Graphic installation is slower and a bit tricky during the partitioning phase.

5 ) Move on with the installation to the end.

6) Reboot from the Live CD and connect the USB HDD

7) You have to modify the menu.lst of Grub to reflect your notebook configuration. So, go on /boot/grub directory on the mounted external HDD (for instance /media/usbdisk/boot/grub/menu.lst) and, in case of my X41 change sda1 with sdb1.

8 ) Usually you have to modify also fstab in the external HDD installation to reflect the name of the mout point in your notebook. For Ubuntu edgy is not required any change because the drive in fstab are listed in a different way (I don’t know the details) and it works right as it is.

9) Now you are ready to boot your new OS from the external HDD. After booting, usually you will get a login prompt. This is because the Xorg configuration won’t match the new hardware in case, for instance, you have prepared the external HDD on a different computer. Dont’t panic!

10) Reconfigure the Xorg. On Ubuntu is pretty easy just execute:

user@host:~$sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

reply to all the questions, just use default if you don’t know. This is the most complicated step for some distribution. Be prepared, maybe read the xorg.conf generated when you run the live CD version before doing any change.

That’s it. Not really for newbie but reasonable simple for “less experienced” like me.

Just drop a comment if you need help. I will be happy to help you.