A quick swing past autofs

If I were to cross off an imaginary list of things that most modern desktops “do,” automounting would be about the only thing left that I haven’t really conquered. Other things like international keyboards, switching languages and even mimicking a decade-old desktop layout are all old hat. But automounting I just don’t bother with.

Part of that is personal; I am not the kind of person who wants to stick a USB drive into a machine and see an icon pop up on the desktop. Just in principle that seems to cross over the line between my sense of control and allowing the computer to decide what is best for itself. Never send a machine to do a human’s work.

Out of rabid curiosity though I took a look at the Arch Wiki page on autofs the other day, and came away satisfied … for the most part.

Setting it up was very easy, with only a couple of configuration files to manage, and no real challenge when using something like Arch. (I left out kernel support for autofs when I built the kernels on my Crux systems, so I didn’t bother with those. :roll: ) In fact, I am afraid I don’t have anything to add to what you see on the Arch wiki, in terms of how to configure it. Start to finish, the information there worked perfectly for me.

For the most part. USB flash drives, SD cards and CDROMs all worked without a hitch, being accessible within seconds of insertion. On the other hand, hard drives in USB enclosures — which make up the majority of what I use for external storage — seemed to be ignored. I am not sure what the difference is that would make a 2Gb flash drive “detectable,” and a 4Gb hard drive in a USB casing “undetectable,” but for my own purposes that was a bit of a deal-breaker.

And I didn’t add my nfs servers to autofs, preferring to keep them as manual mount points. So in that direction, I don’t have any guidance. But if you want a method of automounting that doesn’t require an entire desktop environment to prop it up, it might serve as a solution.

As far as making an icon pop up on your desktop though … you’re on your own for that. :)

P.S.: Score one more point for the Arch Wiki, which is still simply the best place to go when you need information. …

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3 thoughts on “A quick swing past autofs

  1. igro

    I use autofs for one cool thing: automounting sshfs. It’s really useful, when you just want to read/write a few files from a remote server and you don’t want to ssh into it just for that. So you just cd (or use mc/whatever) into the mount point, autofs automagically connects and voila, the contents of the server are part of your filesystem now and you can use your favourite editor to edit them, etc. And the best thing is, after some idle time, autofs automatically disconnects. Really cool stuff :D

    Reply
  2. bryan

    I enjoyed this post, mostly because it made me aware of something I didn’t realize that autofs did (auto unmounting). I’m currently reinstalling & configuring arch on a netbook and, while I have most things installed and running currently (surf, tabbed, dwm, statnot, mpd, feh), I still haven’t installed thunar, my GUI file manager of choice. With either autofs or skvm, the suckless implementation of a volume manager, I’m considering not installing thunar at all since a large portion of thunar’s draw to me is thunar-volman.

    Thanks for the post!

    Reply

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