13.5. USB Flash Drives

A recent development in removable media is the USB Flash Drive. This is a small, solid-state memory device, normally no larger than a pen.They can be carried conveniently on a key ring, and are sometimes referred to as 'USB Keys' as a result. These small drives can contain files, directories, and even software. Red Hat Enterprise Linux has the ability to use these drives through the auto-mount features of Nautilus.

Like diskettes, USB drives are useful for carrying files between machines not on the same network, or between computers that use different operating sytems. Linux can read files from a USB drive formatted to work in Windows. However, if you encrypt the files or filesystem on your USB drive, Linux may not be able to read those files.

13.5.1. Mounting your USB drive

When you plug the drive into a USB port o your Red Hat Enterprise Linux system, several things happen. Nautilus recognizes the drive and auto-mounts it to the directory /media/<manufacturer>/, where <manufacturer> is the name of the maker of your drive. Nautilus also creates an incon of the same name on your desktop. Finally, Nautilus adds a similar icon to the Computer window.

To mount your USB drive manually:

  1. Open a terminal window.

  2. Enter the command mount /media/<manufacturer>/.

To mount your USB drive with Nautilus

  1. Open the Computer window from the desktop.

  2. Double-click the USB key icon, or right-click on the icon and select Mount Volume.

13.5.2. Accessing the USB drive

You can access your USB drive from the desktop or from a shell prompt. From the desktop, you can either double-click the icon or you can first open the Computer window, then double-click the USB drive icon. From a shell prompt, enter the command cd /media/<manufacturer>, making sure to replace <manufacturer> with the drive's manufacturer.

13.5.3. Unmounting the USB drive

You must unmount your USB drive before removing it from your system, or problems similar to those that can affect diskettes may aflict your USB drive.

To unmount your USB drive manually:

  1. Open a terminal window.

  2. Enter the command umount /media/<manufacturer> at the shell prompt.

To unmount your USB drive with Nautilus

  1. Locate the USB drive icon on your desktop or inside the Computer window.

  2. Right-click on the icon and select Unmount Volume.

Once the USB drive has been unmounted, you may safely remove it from your USB port.


The icon for the USB drive will remain visible from the Computer window as long as the drive is plugged in to the port. It will remain visible even if the drive is not mounted. If you think your drive should have files on it but cannot see them, verify that the drive is mounted.