Howto: access removable media from andLinux

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Accessing removable media from andLinux

Abstract

Having instant access to hot pluggable or removable media (such as USB sticks) on andLinux can be tricky. There is no direct way to do so from the UI and users typically have to edit fstab or other configuration files, with mixed success. In addition, automatic mounting is not fully supported and the mounted volume may no longer be accessible to Windows.

Workaround

Fortunately, there is a solution to that, using Windows itself and the power of NTFS. Like Unix file systems, NTFS supports mount points, which allows a physical drive to be mounted inside an empty directory and its contents seamlessly displayed. This works for USB drive and CD/DVDs as long as the host drive is formatted with NTFS.

Here's how to mount a drive as a directory in Windows XP:

  • Insert the external drive or media
  • Open Control Panel/Administrative tools
  • Open Computer Management
  • Select Disk Management in the storage section
  • Right-click the desired drive or partition
  • Select "Change drive letter and path"
  • Add a mount point to an empty NTFS folder
  • If you want, you can now remove the drive letter in the previous dialog

andLinux/coLinux having mounted a NTFS partition as cofs will see these subdirectories as genuine NTFS folders. Any automatic volume mounting will be handled by Windows and will be transparent to Linux.

Other low level NTFS features that will show up in mounted cofs partitions are junction points and hard links, which are equivalent to directory symlinks and file hard links in Linux. These features are hidden from the standard UI but can be accessed with free third party tools like Alax.Info NTFS Links.

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