Burning ISO files as boot disks with OSX


So you’re interested in GNU/Linux as either an operating system to install or a ‘live CD’ to use for formatting and retrieving files from hard drives. Either way you will need to be able to download ‘.iso’ files and burn them to a cd in order to get anywhere. It doesn’t take many cd-coasters to realize that whatever method of disc burning you are using isn’t doing the trick.

I’ve yet to have a Linux-box that is recent enough to have a cd-burner and the PowerPC version of Ubuntu 5.1 that I have, although it works fine on the old iMac G3, doesn’t appear to work on the perhaps more sophisticated G5. So, the only experience I have at the moment is using OSX 10.3.9 to burn ISOs to disc. I sure couldn’t find a lot of information about doing this in OSX when I needed to know how.

  1. Download the .iso file that you are interested in. My first was actually a set of four or five Fedora Core 4 discs.
  2. Then in OSX go to ‘/Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility’ and open that application.
  3. In the menu go to ‘Images’ and click ‘Burn’.
  4. Browse to the .iso file that you wish to burn to disc and double-click.
  5. Insert blank CD-R disc and hit the ‘Burn’ button. I usually don’t bother with ‘Verify’ since you’ll know soon enough if it doesn’t work and generally there are few problems unless you have a janky internet connection that causes problems with your download. I take it that if you are downloading something like Fedora Core that you are on broadband and that you won’t have any problems.
  6. Insert the disk into the computer on which you’d like to install (You’ll have to set up your PC to boot from the CD drive via the BIOS settings. If your PC is too old to boot directly from a CD you will have a whole other beast on your hands.) and boot or reboot that machine to see the fruits of all of this labor.

That’s all there is to it. If you poke around a bit you will see that the Disk Utility application is a very powerful tool for creating iso files as well. However, I don’t have much use for all of those features. You are now on your way to the world of creating boot discs. No doubt you will have the envy of all of your friends.