Downloading and burning an ISO of Ubuntu

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Windows Programs You Need
Downloading Ubuntu (Which version?)
Doing a Checksum
Burning the ISO
When you're done...


These instructions are for downloading and burning an ISO. The screenshots use Ubuntu 7.04 (also known as Feisty Fawn, which came out in April 2007 and is actually no longer supported) as an example, but the same principles apply to future releases of Ubuntu as well. The download page at the Ubuntu website constantly changes, so I've taken out screenshots of the website.

This page outlines a step-by-step process that minimizes and checks for data corruption, giving you the greatest chance of having a working CD. If you find this tutorial too long and want one that gets straight to the point, go to the Wiki's tutorial on burning an ISO

Also, this tutorial uses InfraRecorder as the CD burning program, but if you already have Nero or Roxio, you can use those instead to burn disk images. Here are quick-and-dirty HowTos on burning ISOs (disk images) in Nero and Roxio Easy CD Creator.

Remember: no matter what burning program you use, never burn ISOs as data, and never extract the ISO using a zip-file program or WinRar.

Windows Programs You Need

BitTorrent (download link): BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer download application with several advantages (for both you and the Ubuntu community at large) over a straight download through the web browser:
  • BitTorrent downloads pieces of a file from other users' computers, easing up the load on Ubuntu servers—this kind of download consideration is particularly important the first few days after a new release. Do unto others and all that.
  • BitTorrent downloads also can be stopped and resumed, unlike regular web browser downloads. This may come in handy to you, seeing as how the ISO files for Ubuntu are often around 700 MB in size.
  • BitTorrent is more likely to leave you with an uncorrupted download. You don't want to spend all that time downloading a 700 MB file only to find out, after two or three hours of waiting, that the file is no good to you.

WinMD5Sum (download link): Even though BitTorrent is very likely to leave you with an intact and uncorrupted ISO, it doesn't hurt to double-check the integrity of the file after download, and that's what WinMD5Sum does—it compares the the file on your computer to the original file and lets you know if they're an exact match or not.

InfraRecorder (download link): InfraRecorder is an open source CD burning application. As I said before, you can very well use Nero or Roxio if you have those installed already, but vanilla Windows does not come with the ability to burn ISO disk images properly, so I'm using as an example a cost-free and open source CD burning application that can help anyone burn the ISO image, not just those who have previously purchased special CD-burning software.

Downloading Ubuntu (Which version?)

Go to the Ubuntu releases website instead of the download page of the Ubuntu website. Yes, the download site appears more "user-friendly" (click the edition, click your download location, and then download the file), but we're going to go the BitTorrent and WinMD5Sum route instead (for the reasons outlined above). I've linked to the releases site for 8.10, but if you go to, you can get other release versions (8.04, 7.10, 6.06).

When you first arrive at the releases site, you'll see a couple of download links for the Desktop CD. Don't click those download links. Instead, scroll down the page until you get a list of links with dates, sizes, and descriptions.

Download the appropriate link with the .torrent extension. In this example, I want the Ubuntu Desktop CD, so I'm clicking on ubuntu-7.04-desktop-i386.iso.torrent

Leave your web browser open to the releases page (or bookmark the page for later). We'll be coming back to this page again later.

Once you download the .torrent file to your desktop, double-click it. Windows won't necessarily know what program to associate with the .torrent file, so you should select the program yourself.

When BitTorrent opens, select a location for the download of the ISO. Then click OK.

Wait for the file to download.

Eventually, the download will finish.

When your download finishes, you should have a file called ubuntu-7.04-desktop-i386.iso in your download folder. In this screenshot, the file is on the desktop, but it will be in whatever folder you chose earlier in the BitTorrent download options.

Reminder: If you have WinRar installed, WinRar will associate itself with the .iso file and give you the option to "extract" the .iso. Do not extract the .iso or use WinRar at all for this process!

Doing a Checksum

Open WinMD5Sum. If, for some reason, it doesn't show in your Start menu, you can launch it from C:\Program Files\winMd5Sum. After you launch it, click the ellipsis (circled in green in this screenshot) and then find the ubuntu-7.04-desktop-i386.iso file. Then, leave WinMD5Sum open while you go back to the web browser window you'd left open earlier.

Somewhere in the middle of the page, you'll see a file called MD5SUMS. Click on that link.

Your web browser should then display a text file with a bunch of hashes (or apparent gibberish) on the left side and the names of ISO files on the right side. Highlight the hash that corresponds to the version you've downloaded and copy the text.

Return to the WinMD5Sum window you'd left open earlier and paste the copied text into the Compare box.

Then click Compare to verify that the downloaded ISO didn't get corrupted during download.

Burning the ISO

Then, launch InfraRecorder. As with WinMD5Sum, InfraRecorder should show up in your menus, but you can also go straight to C:\Program Files\InfraRecorder if it doesn't.

After InfraRecorder starts up, go to Actions and select Burn Image and select the ubuntu-7.04-desktop-i386.iso file.

Most of the default options will suffice, but you should select a slow CD writing speed (4x or 8x, as opposed to 48x). A slower writing speed is less likely to result in a badly burned CD. Badly burned Ubuntu CDs can freeze up in the middle of booting up or installing.

When you're done...

If you've followed the above instructions, the Ubuntu CD should appear like this in Windows Explorer. If you don't get the Ubuntu icon but just get a regular CD icon, double-click on the CD icon. If all you see is one big file called ubuntu-7.04-desktop-i386.iso instead of a bunch of files and folders, then you didn't burn Ubuntu correctly. You burned the .iso as data instead of as a disk image. Go back and follow the above instructions more carefully.

Double-clicking on the Ubuntu icon should launch up the autorun-for-Windows application...

... which will ultimately give you this window.

Now your Ubuntu CD is ready for you. Just reboot (from the CD instead of your hard drive), and you should be ready to start using Ubuntu!

If you have suggestions or corrections for these tutorials, please post in this Ubuntu Forums thread or leave a comment on my blog.

I will not give help to people posting in the above places. If you require technical support, start a support thread on the Ubuntu Forums. That is the appropriate place to ask for help.