I am doing a course on embedded systems, and I need to install Ubuntu for that. While searching the web for doing so I came across two forms in which the Ubuntu software is downloaded, namely the virtual disk image (VDI) and the ISO file formats. May I know the difference between these two file types?

  • A VDI file file.vdi is a file, that is made for virtual machines. It is typically used to provide a virtual file system by VirtualBox, where Ubuntu and other operating systems can be installed in a virtual machine.

    VirtualBox is an application program, that runs in a host operating system (for example Ubuntu or Windows). You create a virtual machine, and a VDI file to provide an 'internal disk' in the virtual machine, where you install a guest operating system. This link shows some useful details.

    Please notice that you can boot a virtual machine directly from an iso file.

  • An iso file file.iso is a file, that is made in order to create a bootable drive in a CD/DVD disk and/or a mass storage device (usually a USB pendrive or memory card but also an SSD or HDD). The partition structure and file system is iso 9660, which is read-only, and the idea is to copy/expand the stored file system into RAM, to run the operating system.

    Most main linux distros, including Ubuntu, provide hybrid iso files, which can be burned to a DVD disk and cloned to a mass storage device (usually a USB pendrive) and the result will be a bootable drive, that will run a live-only version of the operating system for testing and/or installing the operating system into an internal drive in the computer.

    This link helps with some more details.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.