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Hardware > USB

USB 2.0 Drive HOWTO for Debian Linux

This guide applies to USB / USB 2.0 storage devices including portable hard drives and external hard drives.

Step 1

Start your DesktopEnvironment.

Plug your drive into the USB port.

Step 2

An icon like this should pop up on your desktop (possibly with a different sd letter):


You need to right click on it, and select "mount". If successful, it should look like this:


You can then click on the icon to view your files, just like any other linux folder.

Step 3

That's it!. If is not working, install the gvfs package.

Before UNPLUGGING, make sure you right click and select 'unmount'.


troubleshooting simple/ordinary connections

I have tried to include everything you need as a beginner, but if you do not understand things like 'shell' or 'vi' or the concepts of fstab and /var/log/messages . Please read the relevant manuals/docs first!

When you plug your drive in, the following should happen automatically:

1) Output from /var/log/messages

You should get something like this:

Host: scsi2 Channel: 00 Id: 00 Lun: 00
Vendor: IC25N040 Model: ATCS04-0         Rev: 0811
Type:   Direct-Access                    ANSI SCSI revision: 02

with an accompanying SCSI drive letter e.g. 'sde'

If you don't get something like this, please follow the guide below.

2) Check your /etc/fstab (type editor /etc/fstab)

This bit isn't important for us:

dev/hdc6             /                  reiserfs  defaults              1 1
(more stuff here)
/dev/cdrecorder      /media/cdrecorder  auto      ro,noauto,user,exec   0 0

This is what is important:

/dev/sde1 /media/sde1 auto sync,noauto,user,exec 0 0 #HOTPLUG B3Fu.65vJnGtOb_E

/dev/sde2 /media/sde2 auto sync,noauto,user,exec 0 0 #HOTPLUG B3Fu.65vJnGtOb_E

/dev/sde3 /media/sde3 auto sync,noauto,user,exec 0 0 #HOTPLUG B3Fu.65vJnGtOb_E

In this example. I have three partitions on my USB drive (the three entries you see here).

They are written by the usb hotplug system, I didn't have to enter them manually. If you don't have anything like this (the drives could be sda, sdb, sdc etc etc) then you need to check the things below.

step by step

1) Make sure the drive is powered up- you should be able to hear it whirring and the light should be on.

If it isn't then check you are not trying to power it off a laptop USB port (doesn't always work) or a non-powered hub. (It probably wouldn't work in Windows if this is the problem)

2) If you have an entry in /etc/fstab but no icon on your desktop try:

.....and you should see your files. You can then create a ?DesktopIcon.

3) If you have no /etc/fstab entry and no icon but you do have a positive /var/log/messages output, try this:

Then add the following to /etc/fstab (as root; replacing the drive letter for yours; You NEED to add the 1)

Then try 2)

4) You can create a desktop shortcut yourself. Right click on desktop->create new->hard disk and under the device tag use the dev entry you created in /etc/fstab (in my example /dev/sde1).

troubleshooting SATA/PATA/IDE interfaces

Older computers which do not have a bios supporting S.M.A.R.T. (and maybe some that do) may have trouble with new USB external drives, or external drive interfaces (such as those made by Apricorn or Vantec).

Errors such as:

sd 12:0:0:0: [sdb] Sense Key : No Sense [current] 
sd 12:0:0:0: [sdb] Add. Sense: No additional sense information

may be resolvable by altering udev parameters redhat bugzilla bug # 473035

However, more serious errors like:

 sd 17:0:0:0: [sdc] Sense Key : Medium Error [current] 
 sd 17:0:0:0: [sdc] Add. Sense: Unrecovered read error

are more serious. Unfortunately, to deal with the "unrecovered" error you probably need to eliminate USB as a variable, and directly connect the drive to the motherboard. If it is older and only has the traditional IDE interface, you will need an IDE to SATA converter such as Addonic's interface. These are discussed on the SATA page.