Mount Configuration: /etc/fstab
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Although you can mount a file system directly with only a mount command, you can simplify the process by placing mount information in the /etc/fstab configuration file. Using entries in this file, you can have certain file systems automatically mounted whenever your system boots. For others, you can specify configuration information, such as mountpoints and access permissions, which can be automatically used whenever you mount a file system. You needn't enter this information as arguments to a mount command as you otherwise must. This feature is what allows mount utilities on Gnome, KDE, and Linuxconf to enable you to mount a file system simply by clicking a button. All the mount information is already in the /etc/fstab file. For example, when adding a new hard disk partition to your Linux system, you most likely want to have it automatically mounted on startup, and then unmounted when you shut down. Otherwise, you must mount and unmount the partition explicitly each time you boot up and shut down your system. To have Linux automatically mount the file system on your new hard disk partition, you only need to add its name to the fstab file. You can do this by directly and carefully editing the /etc/fstab file to type in a new entry, or you can use Linuxconf as described in the next section. An entry in an fstab file contains several fields, each separated by a space or tab. These are described in Red Hat as the device, mountpoint, file system type, options, dump, and fsck fields, arranged in the sequence shown here:
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<device> <mountpoint> <filesystemtype> <options> <dump> <fsck>
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The first field is the name of the file system to be mounted. This usually begins with /dev, such as /dev/hda3 for the third hard disk partition. The next field is the directory in your file structure where you want the file system on this device to be attached. The third field is the type of file system being mounted. Table 32-7 provides a list of all the different types you can mount. The type for a standard Linux hard disk partition is ext2. The next example shows an entry for the main Linux hard disk partition. This entry is mounted at the root directory, /, and has a file type of ext2. Table 32-7: File System Types Description Attempt to automatically detect the file system type Minux file systems (filenames are limited to 30 characters) Earlier version of Linux file system, no longer in use Standard Linux file system supporting large filenames and file sizes; does not include journaling Standard Linux file system supporting large filenames and file sizes; includes journaling Xiaf file system File system for MS-DOS partitions (16-bit) File system for Windows 95, 98, and Millennium partitions (32-bit) NT and Windows 2000 file systems File system for OS/2 high-performance partitions Used by operating system for processes NFS file system for mounting partitions from remote systems UMS-DOS file system Linux swap partition or swap file UNIX System V file systems File system for mounting CD-ROM
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Type auto minux ext ext2 ext3 xiaf msdos vfat ntfs hpfs proc nfs umsdos swap sysv iso9660
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/dev/hda3 / ext2 defaults 0 1
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The type of file system on a floppy drive could vary, often depending on the type floppy you are trying to mount. For example, you may want to read a Windows formatted floppy disk at one time and a Linux formatted floppy disk at another time. For this reason, the file system type specified for the floppy device is auto. With this option, the type of file system formatted on the floppy disk will be automatically detected and the appropriate file system type used.
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/dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy auto defaults,noauto 0 0
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The field after the file system type lists the different options for mounting the file system. You can specify a default set of options by simply entering defaults. You can list specific options next to each other separated by a comma (no spaces). The defaults option specifies that a device is read/write (rw), asynchronous (async), a block device (dev), cannot be mounted by ordinary users (user) , and that programs can be executed on it (exec). By contrast, a CDROM only has a few options listed for it: ro and noauto. ro specifies this is read-only; and noauto specifies this is not automatically mounted. The noauto option is used with both CD-
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ROMs and floppy drives, so they won't automatically mount because you do not know if you have anything in them when you start up. At the same time, the entries for both the CD-ROM and the floppy drive specify where they are to be mounted when you decide to mount them. Table 32-8 lists the options for mounting a file system. The floppy drive entry also has all the default options of the hard disk partitions, with the exception that it is not automatically mounted (not mountable with the -a option). An example of CD-ROM and floppy drive entries follows. Notice the type for a CD-ROM file system is different from a hard disk partition, iso9660.
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