What forces a file manager to show unmounted partitions in the left pane?

That is - what process is it that causes filemanagers to show drives - it's not fstab - I can show that here, I know that inserting a mountable volume makes it show.

I'm trying to understand what it is that actually gives the filemanager the signal to show the partition in the first place.

  • My impression is that it shows all partitions that have a filesystem and are not already mounted by the fstab. You can find this partitions in /dev and they are named in the pattern sdxn where x is a letter (describing the physical drive) and n is a number (describing the partition number on that drive). E.g. if you only have a sda drive and plug in an USB-Stick you can see an sdb drive showing up in /dev. Jul 10, 2012 at 9:55
  • I know that. I am trying to find WHAT causes them to show, not what they might get called ;) Jul 10, 2012 at 11:42
  • Like I said: I think it's if they have a filesystem and are not already mounted. Or are you looking for the events/system calls that lead nautilus to show new devices when they are plugged in? EDIT: I see you've edited your question. Now it's clear what you mean ;-) Jul 10, 2012 at 14:05
  • All that's been edited today is tags ;) Jul 10, 2012 at 16:02
  • Oh, must have read it wrong then. Sorry! Jul 10, 2012 at 16:13

2 Answers 2


The name of the program causing Nautilus to show partition in the left side bar is gvfs-gdu-volume. To kill this process, run this command to see the PID of the program

sudo ps -e | grep gvfs-gdu-volume

In my system, the output is

 6642 ?        00:00:00 gvfs-gdu-volume

So, I know the PID is 6642, it may vary by time to time.

Kill that process with

sudo kill -9 PID-of-gvfs-gdu-volume.

Or as a one liner, try this

sudo kill -9 `ps -e | grep gvfs-gdu-volume | cut -f 2 -d ' '`

Open nautilus to see the magic !

image of nautilus in Ubuntu 12.04

This image is from thunar in Xubuntu 12.04 LTS.

thunar file manager in Xubuntu 12.04

Note: The solution isn't permanent. Whenever you open a file in Gedit or something like that, The drive icon all appears again. To permanently disable this, follow the below work around.

Workaround to disable this permanently.

Open a terminal and do this command:

sudo mv /usr/lib/gvfs/gvfs-gdu-volume-monitor /usr/lib/gvfs/gvfs-gdu-volume-monitor.bak

This command renamed the culprit file to show the drive icon with adding a .bak extension. That's it.

If you want to revert the change, use this command

sudo mv /usr/lib/gvfs/gvfs-gdu-volume-monitor.bak /usr/lib/gvfs/gvfs-gdu-volume-monitor

Note: This is not a decent solution, but this works perfectly, and I am happy with this.

My drive icon has gone, How can I mount them now

Don't cry. Here is your trusted friend terminal. Open a terminal and do this command to mount /dev/sda1 partition. It will do what nautilus does.

udisks --mount /dev/sda1

To find the /dev/sdaX number of desired partition, do sudo blkid on the terminal.

Update for 12.10

It seems Ubuntu 12.10 is using udisks2 program and the responsible program for showing the drive icon is also changed. It is now gvfs-udisks2-volume. You should kill this process instead of older gvfs-gdu-volume program.

2: 1: http://i.stack.imgur.com/WIjuK.png

  • I use Xubuntu and thunar, grep for grep gvfs-gdu-volume gives nothing. Jul 10, 2012 at 13:21
  • Which Xubuntu version are you using? Edit the question to reflect this. I checked on Xubuntu 12.04 with thunar.
    – Anwar
    Jul 10, 2012 at 15:20
  • 12.10 atm - but the question was raised with 12.04 - I booted it to see and got a response with grep gvfs-gdu-volume, when I have a bit more time I will boot to see if that works. Jul 10, 2012 at 16:26
  • Thanks Anwar, looks like gvfs-gdu-volume is the answer to my question then :) Jul 11, 2012 at 6:32
  • 1
    @Elfy I just added information to handle 12.10 too.
    – Anwar
    Oct 4, 2012 at 13:58

The partition has to be mountable by the user. In practice that means either on a removable volume or listed in the /etc/fstab.

  • 1
    Yes I understand that. Perhaps I didn't frame my question very well - it is kind of vague. What I'm trying to find out it is that actually causes the system to show it in nautilus for instance. I have a partition that I mount in fstab - because I use /mnt it doesn't show automatically. What part of the system is it that causes a drive to show in the filemanager before it is mounted? Mar 30, 2012 at 16:01

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