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So I have a good number of files (based on current node count in the filesystem, 2498329) and when I try to make an .iso out of it, mkisofs runs out of memory, pushes the machine into swap and then runs out of that too. Is there something to make mkisofs less memory hungry? The reason I am creating an ISO because I would like to distribute these files but I can't just drop 2.5M files on people via an archive they extract onto existing filesystems (there would be serious risk of inode exhaustion for ext3, at least) so I thought ISO files are easy to mount on Linux, Windows, Mac OS X.

EDIT: tried --no-cache-inodes - it may or may not have helped, but memory usage still spiked back up past 1G during the initial scan.

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How about a zip file or tar archive instead? Windows does not have native support for mounting ISOs, and 7z, which supports tar is a bit less intrusive than installing drivers for a virtual CDROM. –  jordanm Feb 16 '13 at 17:59
    
@jordanm Windows 8 does have native support for mounting ISOs. And its child's play to mount ISOs on previous Windows versions using third party software. –  Nicolás Carlo Feb 16 '13 at 18:43
    
What's the total size of all files? mkisofs has the option -split-output (together with -o filename), which could split it to several files. –  ott-- Feb 18 '13 at 17:06
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Try the -no-cache-inodes option. The default is to cache inodes for hard link detection, but if there are none, this will save some memory.

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