Mounting .iso and .mds/mdf Files in Linux

There are lots of times where you’d want to mount a CD/DVD image. Say your friend who uses his Windows box has given you a .iso file or a .mds/mdf file, created using Alcohol 120%. How would you mount them in Linux? Using the Terminal and making use of the loop device,there is no need for any external software tools and utlities.

Here’s the steps:

  1. Open the Terminal/Console.
  2. Switch to root user(mounting more often than not requires root privileges, we’ll have a look as to how make media user-mountable later) by typing su root *buntu users and others distros in which the root account is disabled, can skip this step.
  3. Type mount -o loop -t iso9660 /windows/movies/movies.mdf /movies/ For users of distros where root account is disabled(like Ubuntu) prefix sudo to the above. So the command is sudo mount -o loop -t iso9660 /windows/movies/movies.mdf /movies/

If the above command looks confusing,it’s pretty simple! Let’s dissect it.

mount command is pretty obvious, it’s the commnad used for mounting storage media and images of storage media.

-o loop(note that o is the letter o not the numeral zero, ie, 0) instructs the mount command to use the loopback device. -o stands for option, loop indicates loop back device. Intuitive, ain’t it?

-t iso9660 instructs the mount command that the image is of iso9660 format.

The next argument is the path to where the .mdf file is located.

The last argument is the path to which directory the media must be mounted.

The image below shows an example.


If all goes well, you shouldn’t be getting any messages, as in the image. For .iso files, the steps are the same, just replace the .mdf file by the .iso file. The above method should work for CloneCD’s .ccd and Nero’s .nrg files(I remember it worked long time ago, not so sure though, if anyone can confirm this it’d be great!)


  1. LOL There is a tool CDemu + KCDEmu as the front end to it– kinda like Daemon Tools for Linux, but I was unable to compile cdemu and KCDEmu rpm I couldnt find :( so I remembered the command prompt method
    Crap spam. Any way to prevent that??

  2. Well, You better search the phpBB MOD Forums, There are lots of Anti-Spam MODS (even there is one which uses Askimet API!)

    And Yeh, Better upgrade to phpBB3, The Final Stable was released a few days ago :)

  3. CDemu compilation has two brands, old and new..

    old is called “cdemu” and only it for kernels 2.4, 2.6.8 and 2.6.17 to 2.6.20

    new last is renamed to cdemu-userspace, and it for new recents kernels 2.6.22 and above..

    for more info see cd convertion tools and iso tools

  4. hello!!
    I’ve tried that way to mount a mdf file, but I’ve got this on the terminal:

    mount: you must specify the filesystem type

    could you help me please?

  5. I got an error while trying to mount the MDF file:

    mount: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/loop0,
    missing codepage or helper program, or other error
    In some cases useful info is found in syslog – try
    dmesg | tail or so

    $ dmesg | tail
    [ 6543.614013] ISOFS: Unable to identify CD-ROM format.

    I solved it by converting it to ISO first using mdf2iso:

    $ sudo aptitude install mdf2iso
    $ mdf2iso name_of_file.mdf

    My system mounted the ISO file without errors.
    Special thanks go to Salvatore Santagati for his program!

  6. The last 2 or 3 versions of Ubuntu (and probably other distros) have included a program called Archive Mounter which works with mdf’s and iso’s without any need to go all CLI. Right click on the archive=>open with (you may need to chose other application and then scroll down to Archive Mounter)=>Archive mounter=>hey presto, one mounted pseudo-disk!
    The purists will hate it, but, hey, works for me!

  7. The command in the blog post will not work for mdf files. The author probably had iso9660 files that were simply mislabeled as mdf.

    For actual mdf files, you either need to convert them to iso or use a special tool that can read mdf files. I second Ubuntu_users suggestion to use mdf2iso. You can also use ccd2iso and nrg2iso to convert those file types to the iso9660 format.

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