Monday, September 30, 2013

Hybrid ISO disc images - CD/DVD or USB boot compatible!

Optical drives going out of style

Due to the lack of optical drives on modern netbooks and ultrabooks, it's often necessary to convert optical disc media into bootable USB keys. Normally this process is fairly difficult.Tools like unetbootin claim to do this easily. Personally I've never had good luck with this software; it's cumbersome to use and trying to address a problem that should be solved by the vendor distributing discs and ISO images.

A technology I'm rather fond of is the Hybrid ISO, which is an ISO format that can be directly burned to DVD or written directly to a USB disk in a straigtforward way in Windows, Linux, or Mac OS.

It's as easy as
dd if=yourISO.iso of=/dev/sdb

Where /dev/sdb is your USB key.

Here is a small list of distributions that currently offer hybrid ISO images that can be written to DVDs or USB sticks:
  • SuSE Live KDE
  • SuSE Live
  • SolusOS
  • ArchBang
  • CrunchBang
  • Arch
  • Linux Mint
  • Ubuntu
I'd love if they did this with Windows install images as well!

What are the pitfalls of hybrid ISO images? Why doesn't everyone distribute bootable images this way?

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