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It seems to me that having both /mnt and /media is a little redundant. Is there any tangible difference between the two that I'm not aware of?

Is there a standard that most people follow for where to mount things, e.g. use one for certain types of devices, or is this completely subjective?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 38 down vote accepted

The new standard is that /media is where the system mounts removable media, and /mnt is for you to mount things manually.

See the filesystem hierarchy standard (FHS) for details.

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By the way, that website link is unclear about the purpose of /mnt in this context. –  djangofan Dec 1 '11 at 16:01
It says /mnt is for the system administrator. This implies that /mnt should not be used by the system itself. So if your computer automatically mounts a CD or DVD, it should mount it in /media, not /mnt. –  Mikel Jan 26 '12 at 1:23
I certainly agree with that (with you), but the article didn't explicitly say that. –  djangofan Jan 30 '12 at 17:32
if /mnt is for temporary and /media is for removable where should permanent non-removable devices/partitions be mounted. i.e. an internal HDD which is formatted as NTFS but needs to be automounted at startup? –  Caltor Oct 17 '12 at 13:48
Without re-reading the spec, I'm pretty sure that since nothing else should use that drive unless explicitly pointed there, you can mount that drive's partitions anywhere you like, e.g. /data or /a. –  Mikel Oct 18 '12 at 13:05

As I understand it, /media is for mounting things like optical drives and other temporary media, where /mnt is usually for permanently attached storage (generally internal disks).

Of course, you can also mount a device anywhere you want... the /mnt and /media directories are more conventional though.

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/mnt was already accepted as a place to manually and temporarily mount external media. The /media directory was created as a place under which multiple media, external or otherwise, could be automatically mounted.

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I can't help but notice that your answer and kiswa's answer are exact opposite. So, who is right?? The website Mikel provided isn't clear enough. –  djangofan Dec 1 '11 at 16:02
@djangofan, mine ;) –  psusi Dec 2 '11 at 2:29

Another important difference not mentioned yet is that devices mounted under /mnt will not appear in Nautilus' left pane, whilst those mounted under /media (as well as auto-detected devices that are not mounted yet) will.

So for example, if you don't want a certain partition to appear in the "Devices" subsection of Nautilus' left pane, you should create a subdirectory for it under /mnt, write an entry for said partition in your /etc/fstab (or do it through the Disks utility) and assign the newly created directory as its mount point:

/dev/{block_device_name)   /mnt/{descriptive_name}   {fs_type}   {mount,options}  0 2

Even better, add the noauto mount option in fstab/Disks and then your partition won't appear in Nautilus nor will it be mounted (preventing accidental mess with its files)! So for example, in the case of a dual-boot with Windows you could have:

/dev/sda1   /mnt/win7   ntfs-3g   rw,user,noauto,gid=100,uid=1000,nls=utf8,umask=002   0 0

in your /etc/fstab, and hence have your Windows partition not showing up in Nautilus (but still accessible through the mount command if you ever need it).

Here is a screenshot I made with a liveUSB, showing all three cases: Nautilus displaying unmounted/mounted devices that go to /media but not to /mnt

  • auto-detected devices not mounted ("16 GB Volume" /dev/sdb1)
  • devices mounted on a /media subdirectory and showing up in Nautilus ("iso" /dev/sdb2)
  • my Windows partition /dev/sda3 mounted on /mnt but not showing up in Nautilus left pane (it would be the same if it wasn't mounted since I have an entry for it in my fstab).

On the contrary, I want my share data partition to show up in nautilus, so I assigned a /media mount point to it and set the "auto" mount option, so I can just click on "Data" and access it from the GUI.

To me this is THE big difference between those two directories, that I learned about when trying to do just what I explained ;-)

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