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Russell H.
Russell H., Computer Support Specialist
Category: Software
Satisfied Customers: 9274
Experience:  Proud to have been getting computer technicalities into working order since 1988.
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I am having a consistently intermittent - if that makes

Customer Question

Hello ... My name is***** and I am having a consistently intermittent - if that makes sense :) meaning that it happens fairly often but not predictably - problem with USB flash drives automounting in Ubuntu 14.04.
I have automounting configured using dconf-editor, but inserting a hub with USB flash drives does not automount them. They show up in the Nautilus launcher but mount only when clicked with the mouse.
I tried installing a utility called usbmount per this post:
What happens with usbmount is that:
(1) it changes the mount point from /media/USERNAME/DEVICE-LABEL to /media/DEVICE-LABEL
(2) /media/DEVICE-LABEL is owned by root, unlike normal where /media/USERNAME/DEVICE-LABEL is owned by USERNAME
(3) USERNAME can then read but not write without changing permissions via sudo
This was unacceptable in terms of the applications that I am developing, so I uninstalled it. Strangely enough, uninstalling usbmount restored things back to their normal state and resolved the issue, though I don't know why.
The problem has recurred and I want to determine the root cause this time around [as opposed to installing usbmount and uninstalling it]. I have not investigated looking at the source for Nautilus and/or Gnome; I never thought I would need to but not opposed to it.
Again, this is an urgent situation so please do respond back as soon as possible. Any and all assistance is greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Fred ***@******.***
m:(###) ###-####
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Software
Expert:  Russell H. replied 3 months ago.

Hi, thank you for contacting My name is Russell. I will do my best to provide the right answer to your question.

It is possible that your hub is the problem, simply. Some USB devices do not work through USB hubs, a fact that I have observed in the field. The theory of USB ports is that they are all interchangeable, but in practice that has some exceptions. The USB hub may not perfectly duplicate the performance of the native or on-board USB port, and thus cause problems.

If this (speculated) problem is what is wrong, then your flash drives ought to work fine automounting *if* they are inserted into on-board USB ports on the computer, without a USB hub being involved.

Let me know please. And/or, try this to see if what happens fits with my speculation. Thanks.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hi Russell ... Thanks for the prompt reply, much appreciated. I certainly considered that the hub could be an issue. However, I have tried a couple, all purchased from retail chains like BestBuy and Staples, and the issue is happening with all of them.I just took one of the USB flash drives [a USB 2.0 16GB Lexar just purchased about a week ago from Staples] from the hub and connected it directly to one of the USB ports and it is still exhibiting the problem. I have to click it for it to mount. This same flash drive h ad been automounting properly both from the hub and directly connected. I inserted another recently purchased flash drive that has not been used in the hub and it works fine.So there are 2 problems here: how to get the original Ubuntu 14.04 behavior restored and going forward how to handle this.I also have an Apple MacBook Pro and connected the same hub with the same 8 USB drives and all mounted without a problem: they appear in the Mac task bar, in the Finder, and when I run df -k from the shell terminal all show as mounted. OS X is also Unix/Linux.Again, when I do the exact same on Ubuntu 14.04 I see the icons in the Nautilus/Gnome launcher but are not mounted, meaning df -k shows nothing and there are no entries in /etc/mtab.So given these facts then this problem appears to be more Ubuntu- and OS-related and not simply a hardware issue. Ubuntu is clearly detecting the connection of the USB drives but the automount step is now failing, and it is failing for some drives whether they are connected through a hub or directly into the USB port, and had been working fine up until yesterday.Note: One of the hubs I have has 13 ports and an on/off rocker panel. If I connect with the rocker panel set to the off position the OS does not see it. I typically connect it with drives inserted, then click the rocker switch to on, and the drives then show in the Nautilus launcher and running df -k will show them as mounted. There are times, however, when some mount and some do not. Looking in /dev/disk you can see entries for them in the by-id, by-uuid, by-path subdirectories and then issue a mount command from the shell to do mount them manually. If mounting can work manually then there must be some internal kernel issue that is preventing them from automounting.I really do appreciate your response and feedback. However I think there is more to it than just the hardware based on my empirical observations. To that end I have to continue looking for a solution, and I believe that solution will involve some internal Ubuntu configuration settings. To that end, I would need assistance from someone who is well-versed in Ubuntu internals, specifically as it relates to USB and file system mounting.From my understanding there is a payment involved pending a valid solution. I don't quite have a solution but as an fellow engineer value your time and the feedback. Please let me know how I should handle this.Thanks again and Best,
m:(###) ###-####
Expert:  Russell H. replied 3 months ago.

I am sorry to hear that the problem is not so simple and easily determined/solved.

I admit I'm not a Linux 'internals' expert. (Unfortunately you may not find one here, but I will cede the case to anyone who things they can help with it.)

One last observation: A long time ago (in the late 1980s) I formed a principle when working with PCs. It runs something like this:

- if the problem is regular, repeats itself *exactly*, and without fail... i.e. "if same problem in same circumstances 100 % of the time"... then it is a problem in the software.

- if the problem is irregular, not always repeating in the same circumstances... then it is probably hardware at fault.

This is based on the notion that incorrectly configured software is always operant a certain way (even if defectively), but hardware... can be flakey.

(Of course, if the variation in circumstances is invisible to one's examination, then variation in problems will occur... so I present this with a strong caveat. As a principle, it can be wrong.)

But please consider this advice. It might help you see what is wrong with the circumstances...? it's the last help I can offer on this, I'm sorry to say.

I have Opted Out, opening the case to other Experts in this category.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hi Russell ... The rating system is 1-5 and only applies payment credit for 3 or more. I would like to do a 3 but that would mean that I would have to pay but still be without a solution.The 2 ranking is labelled as "Poor" which I believe is blatantly unfair. Your point was valid but does not completely solve the problem; I believe there is more to it.Given that I have to continue to research and ultimately will have to pay for a complete solution, I must respectfully ***** ***** a 2 only for that reason. Again I gladly will pay once I have a complete answer, but at this point I don't have that as yet.Please do understand, and I wish there was a better rating scale.If you know of or can recommend a Ubuntu kernel expert please do pass them on or pass that information on to JustAnswer.Thanks again and Best,
m:(###) ###-####
Expert:  Russell H. replied 3 months ago.

Thank you for your understanding and detailed explanation of your assessment of the case, which I believe is substantially correct so far.

I'm sorry if no Ubuntu Expert has picked up the case so far. Thank you for your continued patience.