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CD Emulation without installation

Posted on 2005-05-17
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Last Modified: 2010-05-18
I am looking for a CD emulation software (like Deamon-tools, VirtualCD, Paragon CD-Rom Emulator) that does NOT require installation in order to mount an image.

I have to carry many CDs to remote locations and would like to build ISO images of my CDs in order to store them on DVDs or an external USB hard drive.  However, this requires installation of a software on the client computer to read images.  Is there a way to mount ISO images on a client computer without the need to previously install an emulation software?

I'm sure I'm not the only one facing this problem but couldn't find any solution! How great would it be to have a DVD with an autorun menu and simply click on the application to install.  The image would then be mounted and autorun itself.

Additional info:
- Simply copying all files to a DVD is not an option as some CDs have path-dependant installations
- The solution can be valid only for Windows XP.

If anyone has a brilliant idea, please feel free to give other suggestions to this problem.

Ryan
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Question by:DaVinci007
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by:Watzman
ID: 14020764
I think that you will have to install software to do what you want.

Just a comment, about your statement that "Simply copying all files to a DVD is not an option as some CDs have path-dependant installations"

While you are strictly speaking correct, in practive I have not found ANY software products that won't install from a copy of their CD that exists as a folder on a DVD.  I have a set of about 50 DVDs that have virutally every piece of software that I have (hundreds of packages), and this approach works in every case that I've tried, and it does not require installation.  I don't argue that a software vendor could make their product not work that way, but they have all moved from protecting the distribution CD (via some form of physical copy protection) to instead protecting the installation (via product activation).  I just have not found any CDs that couldn't be copied to a folder on a DVD and then still work.
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by:DaVinci007
ID: 14021093
Watzman,

unfortunately I did ;)  Some field-specific applications based on old installers do have this problem.

Also, copying files to a DVD folder is a problem in the case of multiple-CD installations when the installer asks for the next CD and it must be in the same drive letter (ex: MS Visual Studio .NET)
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by:fulscher
ID: 14022699
DaVinci007

I'm not sure whether this can be done, because you need some kind of driver which interfaces between the ISO file and the file system. In Windows, drivers usually need to be installed.

Would the following work?
- Copy CD contents to a directory on the DVD (not the ISO file, just the CD contents)
- use CMD/MS-DOS SUBST command to assign this subdirectory a drive letter; the SUBSTed drive is visible in explorer
- if CD change is required, delete the SUBST and assign the next directory

Another idea:
- Save the ISO files on the DVD
- use an ISO extraction utility to extract the CD you need to a memory stick
  (for example, with CDMage - http://www.geocities.com/cdmage/frames.html)
- address the memory stick as the CD drive
Unfortunately, this approach would require two steps - one, to extract the ISO file, two - the actual installation.

Advantage of this solution: You're basically free to format the memory stick to whatever you need and you can assign whatever drive letter you need. -- I wonder whether it would be possible to fomat it as a CD (Joliet) volume... Probably not.
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by:DaVinci007
ID: 14022876
fulscher,

thanks for the input.  We might be going somewhere with this.  SUBST opens a new approach I didn't realize.  Based on the fact that ISOBuster works without any driver or installation because it reads the image structure directly, how would it be "thinkable" to have ISOBuster link its content to a "virtual folder" and then simply SUBST this folder?
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by:DaVinci007
ID: 14022967
Just to make my previous post more clear:

ISOBuster or CDMage can read CD images without requiring to be installed (simply run their exe).

Would it be thinkable to have ISOBuster or CDMage to "link" their output to a folder instead of extracting to a folder?

Maybe something like a Linux symlink?

Once the contents linked to a folder, we could simply SUBST this folder.
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Accepted Solution

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fulscher earned 2000 total points
ID: 14023169
Well, you probably can extract the output to any place you like - as long as it's a directory on a disk or writable device. Problem with SUBST is that it sets the drive label to that of the parent disk:

C: [SYSDISK]
C:\Program Files
C:\Documents and Settings
C:\isofiles   <--- directory for our data

SUBST Q: C:\isofiles

DIR Q:\  <-- show all contents of C:\isofiles
Q: [SYSDISK]  <-- has the same label as C:

To avoid this labelling problem, you could extract the files to memory stick and set the volume label of the memory stick to what it needs to be.

If re-labelling is not required, you can as well extract the ISO files directly on your DVD, e.g.
D:\
D:\MSDN0501
    CD1\
    CD2\
    CD3\
D:\WINXPP
D:\W2003S
D:\OFFXPPRO
...

at the target PC, insert the DVD (disk D:) and then
   SUBST E: D:\MSDN0501\CD1
   E:Setup

later ("insert CD2 to continue...")
   SUBST E: /Q   ## rem Delete SUBST
   SUBST E: D:\MSDN0501\CD2 ## rem assign CD2 to E:

continue installation from E:

As I said, the problem with SUBST is that it's not a very good emulation. It's rather a link to a directory. But it may be worth trying. I've overcome a number of installation problems using SUBST.

---

Hardlink: There is such a utility, the FSUTIL HARDLINK command (check out http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windows/xp/all/proddocs/en-us/fsutil_hardlink.mspx for more info). The effect is probably the same as with SUBST. HOWEVER, the hardlink command cannot create a new device, it just maps one file or directory to a new name on the same device. So, this doesn't really help.

J.
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Expert Comment

by:bobsanders653
ID: 14023957
Have you looked at Bart's PE?  Included you have QSoft RamDisk - which can be set up to 384megs (about half a CD with a drive letter of B:), and other neat things you can do - look at this link:

http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/

poke around on the site for links to how to customize it for yourself
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Expert Comment

by:star57tech
ID: 14026604
UBCD for windows has that Feature, I use it also for the same reason



http://www.ubcd4win.com/

Keith
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Author Comment

by:DaVinci007
ID: 14027707
fulsher, thanks a lot this is great info.  Using SUBST E: D:\APPFOLDER\CDx would definetly be a good way to do multiple-CD installations.  Also, i didn't know about Microsoft's FSUTIL command; it seems a very handy tool.

bobsanders653 and Keith, can you give me more information on how you would use a Ramdisk to mount a CD image?
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Expert Comment

by:star57tech
ID: 14027966
The Cd has 3 Cd Buring programs that will let you either create a cd or open a Iso and burn it to CD.

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Author Comment

by:DaVinci007
ID: 14027979
Could you please give me some more information on how this helps me?  Please see topic.
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by:DaVinci007
ID: 14071236
Hi everyone, thank you very much for your input.  I will give points to fulsher as he inspired me a little batch script using SUBST.  I'm posting this script for future references to the solution.  To use, simply use this batch this file in a folder containing subfolders representing installations CDs.  Once executed, it will:
1- Detect the first available drive letter
2- Mount subsequently each direct subfolder as a drive

@ECHO OFF
'Script by Ryan Belanger, tested on Win2k/XP/2003
echo Installation script for:
rem echo **************************
dir /b "%CD%*"
rem echo **************************
echo.

for %%A in (C: D: E: F: G: H: I: J: K: L: M: N: O: P: Q: R: S: T: U: V: W: X: Y: Z:) DO CALL CD %%A >NUL 2>NUL || Set FREEDRIVE=%%A && GOTO FOUND
:FOUND

for /F %%A IN ('DIR /AD /B') DO (
      SUBST %FREEDRIVE% "%CD%\%%A"
      ECHO Mounted %%A
      Pause
      SUBST %FREEDRIVE% /D
)
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by:fulscher
ID: 14072655
hank you for the points. Nice script!
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Expert Comment

by:fulscher
ID: 14080833
A comment - I just found a freeware tool which can be used to mount ISO images. It needs minimal installation (copying 1 file to System32) but doesn't need a reboot. I guess installation / removal could be automized.

http://download.microsoft.com/download/7/b/6/7b6abd84-7841-4978-96f5-bd58df02efa2/winxpvirtualcdcontrolpanel_21.exe

J.
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Author Comment

by:DaVinci007
ID: 14081093
Thanks Fulsher ;)

I also can accross this one and it works very well.  Unfortunately, Microsoft decided it would work only with ISO image files (I know my topic asks only about ISO but I do need to mount other formats).  Anyway, thank you very much for the info! ;)

And since I'm posting, here is the latest version of the script including automatic volume labeling with the name of the folder.

@ECHO OFF
REM *** Script by Ryan Belanger (May 25, 2005), tested on Win2k/XP/2003
ECHO Installation script for:
dir /b "%CD%*"
ECHO.

REM *** Get the initial label of the drive (to revert it)
FOR /F "tokens=*" %%A IN ('VOL ^| FIND "%CD:~0,1%"') DO CALL :PARSE %%A
GOTO :ENDPARSE
:PARSE
IF "%1"=="" GOTO :EOF
SET OLDLABEL=%1
SHIFT
GOTO :PARSE
:ENDPARSE

REM *** Get the first available drive letter
FOR %%A IN (C: D: E: F: G: H: I: J: K: L: M: N: O: P: Q: R: S: T: U: V: W: X: Y: Z:) DO CALL CD %%A >NUL 2>NUL || SET FREEDRIVE=%%A && GOTO FOUND
:FOUND

REM *** Mount the subfolders
FOR /F %%A IN ('DIR /AD /B') DO (
      LABEL %~d0 %%A
      SUBST %FREEDRIVE% "%CD%\%%A"
      ECHO Mounted folder %%A as %FREEDRIVE%
      PAUSE
      SUBST %FREEDRIVE% /D
)

LABEL %~d0 %OLDLABEL%
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