An ISO file is an image file of a CD/DVD or other disc. It contains all the files from the disc, neatly packed into a single .iso file. This allows users to burn new copies of the disc, or they can open the ISO file to browse and copy its contents to their system.

An ISO file can also be mounted, which is the virtual equivalent to inserting a disc into your PC. The operating system will treat the ISO as a physical CD rom. In this guide, we'll see how to open and mount an ISO file on Ubuntu Linux. This can be done from both command line and GUI, so we'll be covering the steps for both methods.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to open and mount an ISO file via GNOME GUI
  • How to open and mount an ISO file via command line
Mounting and accessing an ISO file in Ubuntu Linux
Mounting and accessing an ISO file in Ubuntu Linux
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Ubuntu Linux
Software N/A
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

How to open and mount an ISO file via GNOME GUI

GNOME comes with the "Disk Image Mounter" application installed by default. If you're using the default GNOME GUI on Ubuntu, you can follow along with the step by step instructions below to mount and open an ISO file.

  1. Right click the ISO file and then click on "Open With Disk Image Mounter."
  2. Open the ISO file with Disk Image Mounter
    Open the ISO file with Disk Image Mounter
  3. We can see that our ISO file has been mounted, and is accessible in GNOME's file browser.

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    Access the contents of the ISO file by opening the mount in file browser
    Access the contents of the ISO file by opening the mount in file browser
  5. Simply click on the mounted disc in order to access its contents.
  6. The contents of our ISO file can be seen here
    The contents of our ISO file can be seen here
  7. To unmount the ISO file, click the eject icon in the file browser.
  8. Unmount the ISO file by clicking on the eject button
    Unmount the ISO file by clicking on the eject button
  9. Note that you can also unmount or access the ISO from GNOME's quick launch toolbar.
  10. You can right click the mount in the GNOME quick launch toolbar to unmount it
    You can right click the mount in the GNOME quick launch toolbar to unmount it
  11. If you simply want to extract the contents of the ISO file, without actually mounting it, you can right click the file and select the "Extract Here" option.
  12. Extract the ISO file to have a copy of all the files on your system
    Extract the ISO file to have a copy of all the files on your system
  13. Your files will now be extracted into the same directory where the ISO file resides.
  14. The files are being extracted
    The files are being extracted


How to open and mount an ISO file via command line

Mounting ISO files via the command line will work independently of whatever GUI you're using. Follow the instructions below to mount and open an ISO file via command line.

  1. Start by creating the directory where you'd like to mount the ISO file.
    $ sudo mkdir /media/mydisc
    
  2. Next, use the mount command to mount the ISO file to the directory we created.
    $ sudo mount ~/Downloads/ubuntu-20.04.2-live-server-amd64.iso /media/mydisc -o loop
    
    Of course, replace our ISO file path with that of your own.
  3. Mounting and accessing an ISO file via command line
    Mounting and accessing an ISO file via command line
  4. You can now access the contents of the ISO file through the mounted directory.
    $ ls -l /media/mydisc
    total 74
    dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root  2048 Feb  1 12:57 boot
    dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root  2048 Feb  1 12:57 casper
    dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root  2048 Feb  1 12:57 dists
    dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root  2048 Feb  1 12:57 EFI
    dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root  2048 Feb  1 12:57 install
    dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 34816 Feb  1 12:57 isolinux
    -r--r--r-- 1 root root 26452 Feb  1 12:57 md5sum.txt
    dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root  2048 Feb  1 12:57 pool
    dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root  2048 Feb  1 12:57 preseed
    lr-xr-xr-x 1 root root     1 Feb  1 12:57 ubuntu -> .
    


  5. When you're ready to unmount the ISO file, use the umount command.
    $ sudo umount /media/mydisc
    

Closing Thoughts

In this guide, we saw how to mount and open an ISO file on Ubuntu Linux through GNOME GUI and command line. This allows us to access all the contents of a disc image file, and optionally copy them over to our system.

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