Poor Misunderstood fstab

One of the most misunderstood configuration files in Linux is the fstab.

The fstab configuration file allows you to customize and manipulate how your Linux system auto-mounts drive partitions and other devices. It’s not rocket science, folks, but its nomenclature and textual entry protocols can sometimes be a wee bit confusing, especially to novice Linux users.

Nowadays, modern kernels utilize applications such as udev and hal to perform a lot of these fstab tricks in the background right out of the box. For the Linux user with a custom hardware set up or the need to tweak, the fstab is the way to go. In my Slackware installation, there are some hardware configurations and customizations that I prefer to manually set up. I use my fstab for this purpose (see Fig 1).

Figure 1 – Eric’s Slackware /etc/fstab Configuration File

You’ll notice that I mount three different partitions (Archives, Common, and Backups) in my /home/vtel57 directory at boot up. I also have a Zip drive on this system. HA! Remember those? I still use mine… and a floppy drive, too. I told you I was an old fashioned geek. These mounts are the reason that I prefer to manually configure my auto-mounting, rather than depend on udev or hal.

Akkana Peck over at Linux Planet has created an outstanding tutorial for folks interested in manipulating and understanding fstab.

Here’s a snip:

/etc/fstab — it’s there on every Linux computer, controlling which filesystems get mounted where.

Its manual page, man fstab, begins with this snippet:

fstab is only read by programs, and not written; it is the duty of the system administrator to properly create and maintain this file.

Fortunately, they’re fibbing. These days fstab is usually created for you by an installer or other program. So don’t get too worried about your “duty”.

However, if you want to delve into fstab, it’s easy to understand and modify.

Check out the entire tutorial here –> Controlling Your Linux System With fstab by Akkana Peck.

Learn something, folks… and have FUN while you’re at it.

Until next time…


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  • ebrke  On April 23, 2010 at 15:16

    Eric, my fstab is so different to what it was 5 years ago, I’d probably no longer have the courage to mess with it! I’ll bookmark the link for the tutorial though!

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On April 23, 2010 at 15:31

      What’s cool about fstab is that I can copy mine (make a backup) and then use it on all my installations, not just Slack. It only requires minor adjustments for it to work. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth! 🙂

  • Securitybreach  On April 24, 2010 at 00:13

    Thanks Eric, another great post!!


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