Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quickly mount an image

Today, I was having some issues installing Orchard for one of my schools remotely. the issue was that the software would not allow me to specify a remote network location for the install CDs, it insisted to look for a CD ROM Drive. Well, I then turned to my trustee CloneCD which works great, though payware, unfortunately, for my particular hardware, CloneCD failed every single time, and I wasn't sure why. 
So as usual, I turned to google to find some other solution, also, as usual, I did find a solution. 
it's actually open source, with a tiny foot print, in fact, the whole utility is about 200Kb. It's very easy to install. All it does is install a driver on the server that would allow virtual drives to be mounted.  You can find it here.
The only downside of this utility is that it is only CLI (Command Line Interface) with not Graphical User Interface (GUI), which may scare some people, but, don't worry, I will post the main command that most people will probably use anyway... also, the app itself has extensive command line help for any other functionality... 
so for instance, let's say I have a disk image on my D: drive called, for example, SKILL TREE INSTALLER.ISO in a directory called ORCHARD CDs, this would make the path to my image  D:\ORCHARD CDs\SKILL TREE INSTALLER.ISO 
now let's get down to business, from a command line.  (go to start /run .. and type cmd) 
type the following:
imdisk -a -t file -m e: -f "D:\ORCHARD CDs\SKILL TREE INSTALLER.iso"
and voila, now double click on "My Computer" , and you should see a new drive,  "E:" with the new mounted image. you can use this as a normal CD, just like one you would've otherwise inserted into your computer. Optionally, right after the -m you can specify #: instead of e: , which will basically choose the next available drive letter to mount your ISO on. 
in order to "Eject" the CD, in imdisk lingo, this is called "Detach"... just type the following:
imdisk -d -m e: (e: being the currently mounted Virtual CDROM Drive). 
Pretty easy, right? 
I can see this being useful for an admin who is trying to install software that is pretty strict about the installation location, (like Orchard), and only accepts an actual CD ROM drive to be the source of the installation. now, instead of going to the location of the server, just mount the ISOs on a Virtual CD ROM Drive, and off you go. 
note: If you happen to be installing a multi-cd software, and the software is designed to ask you for the next CD to be in the CD ROM Drive. do NOT try to detach the previous CD first before re-attaching the next one, or you will get a message saying that the CD is in use, and access has been denied. Instead, just mount the next CD on top of the currently mounted one, and continue on with your installation. Make sure that the -m flag does NOT have the #: this time, but rather the actual currently mounted drive letter, to ensure that you emulate removing one CD from one drive, and putting the next one IN THE SAME drive. 
p.s: this article does omit a bunch of pre-requisite information, which I'm assuming you know, or would have to look up. i.e: how to make an ISO image, or for that matter, what the heck is an ISO image. 
If you have any interest in this process, and would like to know more, please post in the comments, and I may make another article related to some of the other information pertaining to this article. 

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