13 July 2008


To be concise, automounting of removable media in Linux hurts.

SkinnyDebbie's first release has been held up by issues surrounding automounting. Getting automounting to sorta work is easy. Getting it to be reliable and usable is another story. I think I've finally gotten things figured out to the point where the system is sufficiently usable and reliable. But I would like to make sure that there are no gremlins hiding in the works. When mountpoints go bad, the results can be fairly ugly.

I also want to add a bit of UI sweetness to the automounting deal: I'd like the the appropriate folder to open in the file manager when the media is mounted to let the user know that the media has, in fact, been mounted. This shouldn't be too tough -- but then that's what I thought about automounting in general.

One annoying thing: Linux does not consider audio CDs and video DVDs mountable media. That means that you literally cannot mount either of these kinds of discs and browse their files on the command line or in your file manager. This doesn't mean you can't open discs in applications designed to read from them (e.g., VLC, Xine, Audacious); it just means that you can't ls, mv, cp, etc. the files on the discs. In theory, it's possible to set things up so that when you insert, say, an audio CD, an application that can read audio CDs will launch and open the CD in the application.

I'm dithering on whether this is a good idea or not. It's a good idea because it makes the life of the end user easier. But it's a bad idea because the application the system designer thinks is best for reading CDs or DVDs may not be the application the user prefers to use. In this case, the psuedo-automount is just a nuisance to the user. As near as I can tell, configuring what application is associated with CD/DVD media isn't that easy either.

Like I said, it hurts.

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