Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a server that has a number of CIFS shares that need to be accessed on a per-user basis. For example, I have a Music share which I have full access to, but my wife has read-only access.

When either myself or my wife log into our Ubuntu 11.04 laptop I would like these shares to be automatically mounted per user. Now I understand that if I mount as -t cifs without specifying a user then it will use the USER environment variable. However, I also need to specify a password, so how can I do that when each user has a different password?

I think my questions are:

  1. Is there a way for me to have a per-user /etc/fstab?
  2. If not, is there a way to specify that a mount is only applicable to a certain user?
  3. Also, the share password is always the same as the local password. Is there a way to specify that this password should just pass through from the client to server rather than having to specify it in a credentials file somewhere?

Or maybe I'm missing something and there's a completely different solution. Can anyone help?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are probably several solutions possible; here's is how I would do it. (Disclaimer: untested!)

The mount.cifs command can read the username and password from the USER and PASSWD environmental variables, but it can also read them from a "credentials" file, that you specify on the command line with the -o cred=/path/to/credentials/file option.

The credentials-file approach is IMHO simpler to implement.

  1. Create a text file $HOME/.Music.cred to store the credentials; the file should have this format:

  2. Protect the $HOME/.Music.cred file; run this command in a terminal:

    chmod go-rw $HOME/.Music.cred
  3. Now you should be able to mount the CIFS share //server/music on directory MyMusicFolder using this command:

    sudo mount -t cifs -o cred=$HOME/.Music.cred //server/music $HOME/MyMusicFolder

    You can enable each user to run this through passwordless sudo by adding a line to /etc/sudoers: (one line per user)

    # replace every occurence of `user` with the actual account name
    user ALL= NOPASSWD: /bin/mount -t cifs -o cred=/home/user/.Music.cred //server/music /home/user/MyMusicFolder
  4. If the command from step 3. worked correctly, you can make it automatic in several ways:

    • save it into a shell script into your home directory and make that script an auto-started application (you have to do this for every user that needs to mount CIFS shares);
    • save it into a shell script /etc/X11/Xsession.d/30mount-cifs-shares so that it will work for any user.

Alternatively, you can replace steps 3. and 4. above with the use of pam-mount:

  1. install package libpam-mount

  2. configure /etc/security/pam_mount.conf.xml with:

    <debug enable="1" />
    <volume server="server" path="music" mountpoint="~/MyMusicFolder" options="cred=/home/%(USER)/.Music.cred" />


share|improve this answer
Thanks, but step 3 only works for sudo. Therefore, if I script it then it will need to run as root, will it not? – Kent Boogaart Oct 16 '11 at 13:03
Also, for step 4 is there any reason I can't just put this in /etc/fstab? – Kent Boogaart Oct 16 '11 at 13:08
Ugh, I think that's because it runs as root so $HOME will refer to root's home. I seem to be in a bind here. If step 3 worked as non-root then I can see how this could work, but it doesn't. – Kent Boogaart Oct 16 '11 at 13:14
@KentBoogaart: You're right, you need passwordless sudo for that. I've edited the answer with some more suggestions. – Riccardo Murri Oct 16 '11 at 14:42
@KentBoogaart The reason it does not work in /etc/fstab is that variables like $HOME are not expanded there; variable content substitution is a feature of the shell. – Riccardo Murri Oct 16 '11 at 14:44

As a note to myself and to others, the reason libpam-mount was failing with:

CIFS VFS: Error connecting to socket. Aborting operation
CIFS VFS: cifs_mount failed w/return code = -101

was due to the fact that my wireless network had not yet started when libpam was attempting the mounts. To rectify this, I had to set the wireless connection as "Available to all users" in the wireless connection settings. This allows the connection to activate prior to a user logging in.

Once I had set that property, libpam-mount worked fine.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.