Problem: I created 3 DVD's filled with Windows system recovery disks in case I ever have a hardware problem and need to re-install Windows in order to run diagnostic tests. However, I don't want to worry about losing them, so I would like to make backups of the recovery disks as ISO images which I can store on an external hard drive.

A Google search revealed that I can do this using the dd (or "disk dump") unix command.

dd if=/dev/who-knows-where? of=/home/wdkrnls/x201-recovery-2011-09-30.iso

But the snag is that Ubuntu doesn't use the old convention of associating /dev/cdrom with the cd-rom drive. Instead Nautilus automagically creates /media/CD_ROM which is a directory, and not the drive itself. I tried to run dd anyways and got:

/bin/dd: reading '/media/CD_ROM/': is a directory 0+0 records in 0+0 records out 0 bytes (0 B) copied, 0.0158501 s, 0.0 kB/s

I tried running dmesg | tail and saw a reference to:

[215135.134164] sr 9:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg1 type 5

So I tried ls /dev/sg1, but there wasn't any file called that. Only my partitions show up with sudo fdisk -l, leaving me stumped as to what to try next.

Solution: I figured out I could solve my problem with brasero or k3b and so abandoned my exploration of Ubuntu's internals. Nevertheless, I still wouldn't mind knowing how I would use dd to accomplish the same task.

How would I solve my problem with dd?


Load a CD in the drive so it mounts. Open a command line interface and type 'df -h'

This will display all the mounted drives in your system.

Mine displays the following.

foo@MyBoX:~$ df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1             448G  308G  118G  73% /
none                  1.9G  768K  1.9G   1% /dev
none                  2.0G  2.2M  2.0G   1% /dev/shm
none                  2.0G  476K  2.0G   1% /var/run
none                  2.0G     0  2.0G   0% /var/lock
/dev/sdb1             459G   12G  424G   3% /mnt/work_files
                      4.0G  2.1G  2.0G  52% /media/thumbdrive
/dev/sr0              231M  231M     0 100% /media/cdrom0

It shows my device as /dev/sr0. So I would use:

dd if=/dev/sr0 of=/home/foo/somedir/recovery.iso

I have used this many times to create CD and DVD backups. You can also mount the iso on a loopback file and use it as if it was a CD/DVD. Handy for games that run under wine or Crossover that require a play CD.

  • I need to learn how to format my answers better. – peck Oct 1 '11 at 21:50
  1. Go to nautilus.
  2. Click the computer location in the top bar (computer icon).
  3. Right click on the CD. Select "Copy Disc ..."
  4. Select Image File as the destination.
  5. Click properties to specify where to put the file.
  6. Put in a file name and make sure you use ISO9660 as the type. Click (I think it's "Open" for open this folder, but it could be "Save")
  7. Click Copy Disc (or "Burn", again, I can't remember the exact wording).

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