Linux ISO Images
Have you burned an iso image before and tried an install of any other
If so, then you probably got lucky, or already know how to burn an iso
image and do not need this tutorial. However, 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
One of the most common issues that new users of Linux make is
improperly burning iso images. Just burning the file on a cdr media as
data file does not properly set up the disk or make the disk bootable
(which is what you want to do). Simply put, do not
burn the iso as a
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
images that you downloaded this way. For example, in Nero, you go to
the main file menu and just
choose the "burn image" option.
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.
just putting the iso files
on a hard drive does not make them bootable or usable.
Do not use the Windows XP utility to burn your images. The XP utility
only burns a
data disk, which is not what you want.
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
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
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
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 layout 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 (checksum) numbers. It is now
included in most
If you elect to use Windows (this is your first Linux iso burn), then
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!
you go slow, you
will be ready to go!
medium did you burn the images
on, cdrw disks or cdr disks?
While this may not seem to be an obvious issue to many, what media you
use to burn the iso image can affect the outcome of your attempt to
burn the image on a disk, as well as if your cdrom drive will be able
to read the image.
Always use quality cdrom media. Try to resist buying cheap media, just
because of 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.
Old is your CDROM/CDRW 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 incompatibility
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 burned 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
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
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. A sample of such a utility is SmartFTP.
Did you verify the iso's that you downloaded (that the checksums were
OK)? Mandriva and Fedora will also verify the burned disks
for you during
it's initial install procedure. It does take some time, but is worth
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
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
(and have not installed any of the drives) this is not relevant.
If you run into weird 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 and
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 (red stripe) 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
If you experience erratic behavior of the CDROM drive during a burn, or
the drive seems to have problems consistently reading disks, check the
lens on the CDROM drive. It can become dirty and may need to be
cleaned. Consult the manufacturer's web site FAQ on how to clean the
lens. If this does not work, you most likely have a failing CDROM
drive. Since such drives are quite inexpensive now, consider replacing
it, or buying a CDRW replacement drive.