Get software from DVDs with APTonCD

Q In Ubuntu, under Administration > Software Sources > Third-Party Software, it's possible to add packages stored on a CD-ROM - very useful as I can only connect my laptop to the internet occasionally, thus not install packages direct, but I can still browse on work or public library computers and copy packages. However, I have an older Dell Laptop Latitude C840 which has a read-only, but bootable, CD-ROM drive which I can no longer upgrade. I have added an external DVD writeable drive as a USB device, but the laptop's BIOS can't be modified to recognise this as bootable.

Although I can't boot from DVDs, I would still like to use the USB DVD to add diverse packages to Software Sources and by using APTonCD. The problem is that the "Add CD-ROM" button insists on looking at the default CD-ROM drive - the old limited-capacity read-only boot drive /dev/scd0 (media/cdrom0). My question is how do I get Software Sources and APTonCD to read from the the larger USB DVD /dev/scd1 (/media/cdrom1) drive? Is there a command line way around this? Is there a file in /etc that I need to add an entry to?

A As far as adding a disc as a third-party repository goes, we found it worked with an external, second drive with Ubuntu 8.10. You need to connect the drive and wait for the disc to be mounted, then try to add it. If the disc structure matches a standard Debian package disc, you don't even need to run Synaptic - a requester pops up asking if you want to use the packages on this disc. Alternatively, you can cheat with APTonCD.

When you run APTonCD on the connected computer, it creates an ISO that you would normally write to a CD or DVD. If it's small enough to write to a CD, you have no problems, as you can read that CD in the internal drive. If it's larger than 700MB, write the ISO image to a DVD as a file. In other words, create a filesystem on the DVD that contains just one file, the ISO image. You can do this with your favourite GUI CD/DVD authoring program, or do it directly with growisofs

growisofs -Z /dev/dvd -dvd-compat -R aptoncd-nnnnnnnn-CD1.iso

When you put this disc in the target computer and run APTonCD, select ISO image when asked for a source and pick the ISO image on your DVD. This is a standard file chooser, so it doesn't care where the ISO image comes from. It's simple to do and effectively bypasses the single-drive limitation of the CD loading in APTonCD. Make sure the ISO image is below 4GB in size. mkisofs, the program used to generate the filesystem for growisofs, may create corrupted images of files larger than that.

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