Mission Impossible: Burn Iso Image to USB Drive

My wife and I home school our son and we receive his lessons in the form of DVDs. Our newer laptops don't have DVD drives so I purchased a Dell DW514 external drive which never functioned correctly with either our Ubuntu or Windows laptops. After fussing with it for several hours I ended up prying it apart with a screwdriver to remove a DVD that wouldn't eject and threw it in the trash.

I figured I could copy one of the DVDs to an 8 GB USB drive but since the USB was formatted in FAT32 there wasn't enough room. I tried reformatting the USB drive using Gparted but it didn't give me the option to reformat it in VFAT or exFAT so that was a waste of time.

I called my cyber genius friend who got me started using Linux several years ago. He told me it would be easier to copy an ISO image of the DVD and save it on the USB stick. (yeah, right) I read a tutorial and tried using the dd command in Terminal to copy the DVD ISO but kept getting error messages. After several hours of searching I was unable to find any Linux tutorials on how to create an iso image from a dvd and burn it to a USB drive.

I tried using Brasero but the libdvdcss.so.2(library) was missing. I found how to install it using Terminal in a thread on this forum. Now Brasero works and I created an image file from one of the DVDs. Unfortunately Balena Etcher and Unetbootin no longer install without error messages on Ubuntu 22.04 so I'm unable to burn the iso to my USB drive.

Any suggestions?


I am confused. If you are just trying to copy a DVD to get to the lessons why are you using Etcher or Unetbootin? Both of those are to extract .iso images and burn them so you can install or run a live operating system.
Are you trying to run a live USB drive?
Are you trying to dual install Ubuntu and Windows?
Do you just want to access the lessons on the DVD?
Are the lessons on the DVD in a compressed form?

Hi lymm- I'm trying to copy the DVD to a USB drive so my son can view his lesson videos from the USB drive instead of trying to view them from the worn out DVD drive on the laptop he's been using. I don't have any laptops he can use with a DVD drive and I'm not going to buy another external DVD drive since I got screwed on the last one I bought.

I am also confused.
Sounds like you have a DVD drive on your computer, else if son's fails how would future DVD's be used?
Might you name the company / program that the lessons are from as this might help to determine method to make usable to son. For example if you have DVD drive and then you could copy to a removable hard drive, but further information is needed, program name would help. Pardon as not quite sure how to phrase this.

The DVD drive on my son's computer is failing. It takes him an hour sometimes to play a DVD from Abeka. I want to copy the DVDs on my laptop, which has an internal DVD drive, to a USB drive so he can play them on his laptop without having to fuss with the worn out internal DVD drive.

The Dell DW514 external drive I purchased new was defective. It never would play the Abeka DVDs or any other DVD. It would only play CDs. It didn't matter what laptop I plugged it into. I had to pry it open to remove a DVD that it wouldn't eject. Dell didsn't offer any support for their external DVD drives. I'm wary of buying another external DVD drive because I don't want to get cheated again.

I converted one of my son's DVDs to an ISO image file that I saved on the hard drive of my laptop. When I tried to copy it to an 18 GB USB drive I received an error message that the 7.7 GB file was too large so it must have been formatted in FAT32. It appears that a DVD can't be copied to a USB drive that's formatted in FAT32 unless the USB drive has three times the data storage space of the DVD. I haven't yet found a Linux based application to reformat a USB drive to exFat or VFAT.

I ended up copying the DVD ISO image to my one terrabyte external hard drive. I'll transfer the image file from the removable hard drive to the hard drive on my son's computer. With DVDs becoming obsolete there should be some Linux based applications to copy DVDs directly to USB drives. Perhaps the fear of copyright infringement lawsuits discourages their development.

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My offhand guess is looks like expensive curriculum which thus might have some sort of copy protection on the disks to prevent duplication.
Don't have use of DW514 but have two Dell DW316 drives which work for me. One option might be to replace drive on son's computer or ask around if a friend might have a portable drive you could try. Sorry.

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Ubuntu MATE comes with a utility called Disks aka gnome-disk-utility. It should be able to do what you want. You can create and restore disk images. I use it to take an ISO like an installation file and create a bootable USB drive. Give it a look see. It's really useful, powerful and easy to use. Plus it comes pre-installed.

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Sounds like it also use some kind of file compression on the DVD if he can't write the DVD to a USB drive. A DVD only has 4.7 gigs of storage space.

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Hello linuxis4me

I have bought, over time, two drives which seem to be very similar to this one:
Hitachi-LG DVD-Writer

They are still working well on my Linux computers.


  • Install the VLC media player
  • Open VLC
  • Attach the external DVD-writer
  • ...
  • In my experience most things work then. :slightly_smiling_face:
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alpinejohn- Thank you for sharing the tip regarding VLC when connecting an external DVD drive for the first time. I may risk buying another external DVD drive if I find a deal on one. For sure it won't be a Dell.

Some DVD discs are dual layer and can hold over 7 GB of data so that's probably why the file is so large.

Thank you for informing me about Disks! I used it to reformat a Geek Squad 8 GB USB drive to be compatible with all file systems. It doesn't tell me which format it created on the USB drive but it can't be FAT32 because it now allows me to transfer the 7.7GB ISO on my hard drive to the 8 GB USB drive. Problem solved! Disks is the solution!