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Background: I am installing ubuntu on an SSD. I have two other spinning hard drives in my box as well. One of these contain an older install of ubuntu. For some reason Nautilus doesn't auto mount the file systems on the other drives when I am browsing the file system. Maybe it's because I am already at the partitioning step of the installer.

Question: How can I easily check the contents of the file systems before deciding which partition to mount at which mount point. I would for example like to re-use my old /home partition. I would prefer something that requires less manual work than mounting my partitions manually. Earlier when I've run the installation CD it has somehow been able to mount all my partitions automatically. I figured maybe I could activate this script manually if I knew where it was.

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To get a quick information on an unmounted partition's content it may be a good idea to name them with labels. This will give you not only knowlegde on the content but you will also be able to easily mount them by their label name.

To do so either run Gparted, or open Disk Utility from the Das and choose Edit Filesystem Label for labeling of a hard drive or Edit Partition to change the label of a selected partition.

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For a command line option and more details on mounting by label see this answer.

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So you can view the content of partitions at the same time in Gparted? I also noticed that the reason the partitions were not mounted was indeed because I had already started the installer's partitioner. – Sam Jul 17 '11 at 19:03
I don't think there is any way to get the contents of a partition without mounting it; adding labels will help you in the future, but you'll still need to mount the partitions to find what they contain now. The Disk Utility might make the process less painful though by providing a nice button you can click rather than using a command line. – TooManyKooks Jul 17 '11 at 19:46
Mounting is a prerequisite to view the files of a partition. You could read-access a drive bit-wise when unmounted but this will not let you actually list your files the way you are used to. This is why labels may come in handy (in the future). – Takkat Jul 17 '11 at 19:54

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