[sf-lug] external usb hard drive

Asheesh Laroia asheesh at asheesh.org
Thu Mar 13 20:12:21 PDT 2008

On Thu, 13 Mar 2008, Alex Kleider wrote:

> I bought myself a Maxtor OneTouch4 Plus 750GB external usb hard drive 
> and am having difficulty getting it mounted on my _Debian_ machine.

Let's see what we can do.

> When connected to my _Ubuntu_ (7.10) machine things work well but it
> all happens without involvement from me:


> Execution of the mount command without parameters tells me that the
> file type is fuseblk, which I gather is standard for external usb
> hard drives.

This probably means that Ubuntu has mounted it using the NTFS driver based 
on FUSE.  FUSE is a way of writing filesystems so that you don't have to 
write kernel code; it's fairly neat, but it's a story for another day.

> Trying to mount this device onto the Debian machine however does not go
> well.
> When plugged in to the usb port, it is recognized by the Debian system
> (I'm working at a virtual terminal here)
> as evidenced by 13 lines of output correctly identifying the make
> and model of the device and including the following which I've
> selected as probably being the most useful information:


> and it hangs there until I hit <enter> which gives me the prompt again.

Right - you will notice that if you press Ctrl-L the prompt will come back 
also.  That's because the kernel messages are overwriting your prompt.  In 
a graphical terminal this wouldn't happen, nor if you decreased the 
"loglevel" of the kernel.

> Having previously created a /maxtor directory
> I've tried
> # mount -t fuseblk /dev/sda1 /maxtor
> but get:
> unknown file type fuseblk


> # mount -t ntfs /dev/sda1 /maxtor
> initially made me very happy because I can now read the directory
> BUT I can not create a new directory
> or write to the device.
> .. even though I am working as root.

Right - the default NTFS driver in Debian (which is a different NTFS 
driver than in Ubuntu) does not know how to write to NTFS filesystems, 
only how to read from them.

> Not only that, but ls -l reveals that the ownerships are all root
> and the privileges are set for root only and
> no privileges are given to group or all. Not at all what was
> reported by the same command when connected to / executed on the
> Ubuntu machine.

Not at all!

> Is the problem that ntfs is the WRONG file type to use and that I need 
> to figure out how to get fuseblk implemented?

Yes! (-:

You can either:

(a) install NTFS-3g (which is in apt), or

(b) (preferred) if you're only using this drive with Linux systems, just 
replace the filesystem on it with something more "normal" to Linux 
systems, preferably ext3.

You pick which route we'll go down, and I'll say how to do which (or both 
- you can surely give both a shot).  I'd say more now, but I'm about to go 
have dinner!

-- Asheesh.

Victory or defeat!

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