I am trying to find an application that makes iso or whatever usable type of images of a disc. I'd like something that is not command-based but has a nice graphical interface.
The GUI application to make ISO or other images of a disc in Ubuntu is Brasero.
Here's a short tutorial video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP6nyA-Pvk8
There are several graphical applications that will do this for you. Personally I prefer K3b. It is a KDE application and some people object to having to install KDE libs, but, it is both easy to use and very reliable.
What you will want to do is 'rip' the CD
You can mount or use the resulting files either directly (if you rip an audio CD to a media file such a an .ogg) or if you rip the CD as an .iso file you can mount it with gmount