Although unlike other standard archive formats such as .tar.gz, .rar, .zip, etc the data inside an ISO disk image is not compressed thus we can make an ISO image out of any CD/DVD or even Blu-Ray disk by using a disc authorizing software on-the-fly, without having to wait till the data get compressed.
It has many benefits such as, say that you have a disk that's filled with thousands of image files and you want to copy that disk to your HDD to be burned to another disk at later times. If you however follow the usual copy-paste method in this instance, it should take some considerable amount of time to copy the whole disk content because the OS has to carefully copy and paste hundreds or thousands of individual files into your HDD, one by one.
However, if you went with the "create an ISO image" using your burning software, then it'll only take extremely less amount of time which is somewhat closer to copying a single file that's equal to the size of the CD/DVD's data that you're trying to copy!.
Another benefit of an ISO disk image is its ability to mount itself as a "virtual disk drive". It's just like burning an ISO disk to a CD/DVD and then after the burning process is over, when you open the disk, you no longer see a single ISO file but the true content of ISO file itself.
Anyhow, if all you need is to mount the ISO file just so you could access its content with your file manager (without the use of any archive manager whatsoever) just like with accessing a partition, etc... in Ubuntu, then there's a small yet extremely useful tool called "Gmount-iso".
This is actually GTK written GUI aimed at the Gnome desktop but you can use it in the latest Unity desktop + many others without any problems whatsoever as well.
|After mounted, you can browse/open the ISO image just like a normal CD/DVD drive, using the file manager...|
*. Extremely simple GUI.
*. Mount/Unmount ISO images.
*. Manually assign the mount location.
*. Mount more than one image.
Yep... that's about it. You can install Gmount-iso in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 (perhaps in the latter version too) by entering the below command in your terminal window.
sudo apt-get install gmountisoI don't think anyone needs a guide on how to use it :). But if you're having troubles, just throw in some comments!.