Our task: copy 1.5 MB from a CD to his wife's MacBook.
Our challenge: his wife's MacBook does not currently read optical disks.
Tools available to solve the problem: a PC laptop with a failing hard drive, my work MacBook Pro that also has issues with optical disks, our family iBook that works but has no screen backlighting at present, and the destination MacBook, which, again, isn't reading optical disks.
Solution: I fortunately had SSH enabled on the iBook before its backlight went out. I logged into that, and inserted the CD into the iBook. Checking in /Volumes, I found that the CD wouldn't mount until I logged in to the GUI. I'm sure there are dozens of ways I could have done that from the command line, but it went along with the silly mood of the whole thing, so I went ahead and logged in blind.
Sure enough, during the GUI login process the CD appears in /Volumes. We make a tar file and my friend copies it down.
PS: Oh, and the eject key on the iBook didn't cause ejection. Turns out a quick
drutil ejectdoes fine.