Technical Note - External Media


This tech note lists the methods with which one can burn CDs or DVDs, or use USB sticks with the ECS machines.


USB media


Our Linux workstations should mount USB sticks automatically when you plug them in. The drive should appear in a File Manager Window. If you are not running a GUI or want to mount from the command line use udisks --mount /dev/DEVICE

Our Mac workstations should mount USB sticks automatically when you plug them in. The drive should appear in the Finder and on the desktop.

On NetBSD, after plugging your USB stick in (if it has a DOS FAT filesystem on it) you have to either:

  1. Click (just once!) on the "Extern" icon on your desktop


  1. Open a Terminal session
  2. Type /sbin/mount /local/external

The drive should now be available at the UNIX path /local/external. If you mounted the drive using the first option above you should already have an open file manager window displaying the drive contents. If you used the second option you can browse to /local/external in the file manager or use UNIX command line tools to access that path.

If you wish to mount partitions from a USB drive that has more than one partition on it, or which may have filesystems that are not handled by the default mounting mechanism, you may be able to mount partitions on a NetBSD machine by doing the following:

  1. Open a Terminal session
  2. Type /sbin/mount -t FSTYPE -o "rw,nosuid,nodev" /dev/DEVICE /path/to/mount

where the nosuid,nodev options are required for complying with the security requirememts for mounting devices and

  1. FSTYPE is the type of your filesystem - as defined by NetBSD
  2. DEVICE is the actual device node that NetBSD sees your partiton as
  3. /path/to/mount is the place you want the USB partition mounted

So, to mount a Linux EXT2 filesystem that appears as /dev/sd0e onto a mountpoint in one's own home directory, the command would be:

/sbin/mount -t ext2fs -o "rw,nosuid,nodev" /dev/sd0e ~/usbmount


On Linux select "Unmount path" from a File manager window, or from the command line: udisks --unmount /dev/DEVICE

To properly unmount the drive on a Mac, drag the icon of the drive to the trash.

On NetBSD, issue the command /sbin/umount /local/external at the command-line or right mouse click on the "Extern" icon and select the "Unmount" option. The device must be not busy for this to succeed, i.e. there must be no processes accessing any file on the device; in particular, no shell may have any directory on the device as a current working directory. Ensuring that you properly unmount the drive is particularly important if you have written any data to it.

If you have mounted a USB partition using a custom command then unmounting should is best performed by unmounting the /path/to/mount, so for the above example, a simple

umount ~/usbmount

should suffice.

CDs and DVDs

The ECS Programmers recommend all CD/DVD burning is now performed using K3b under KDE.

HELP If you have a need to use the command-line, please refer to these unmaintained notes.

Almost all our NetBSD workstations are equipped with DVD burners, the easy way to tell whether you are sat at a machine with a DVD burner is to look on the DVD drive itself to find the "RW / DVD-Rewritable" logo.

How to use K3b

You can find K3b in the Multimedia menu of the K Menu. The program is quite user-friendly. There is a good quickstart guide in the Help_->_K3b Handbook help window, so we will not replicate that here. If you have any problems, please contact the programmers.

Mounting NTFS partition caveat

There are currently some issues that may prevent the mounting of NTFS partitons on external media, eg portable disk drives, onto the School's NetBSD workstations.

Information on these issues can be found at the end of the manual page for mount_ntfs