How to control gnome's auto mounting capabilities?
Whenever I have a Gnome session opened (doesn't apply when no X session is active) some actions are taken when a CD-ROM is inserted or a USB drive is attached.
Where's the configuration for that?
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GNOME automounting capabilities are managed by Nautilus, the default GNOME file manager.
Nautilus also manage the desktop icons and other aspects, as automounting, and runs at startup to do its job even if you don't know. To be convinved, run at startup:
enzotib@compaq:~$ pgrep -l nautilus 1678 nautilus 2362 nautilus enzotib@compaq:~$
To control what it happens when a CDROM is inserted, or an external HD, or a flash memory, start Nautilus and go to System -> Preferences menu item and select the last tab, Media. Here you can control many aspect of automounting.
It depends on what you want to do. Options that are spelled out in /etc/fstab will take precedence over FUSE (I don't know much about FUSE, and I'm assuming that it's the thing that does the automounting magic for GNOME). For example, I had a second hard disk that needed the "user" and "noauto" options (I didn't want it automounting) and adding its entry to /etc/fstab worked.
I don't know how long this will continue to work, since the trend now seems to be to allow the automatic tools "guessing" the user's intent to overwrite configurations explicitly set by the user (for example, nm-applet overwriting /etc/network/interfaces).
Go to System->Administration->User and Groups, choose the user, click on "Properties", then go to the "User Privileges" tab. You should have the "Access external storage devices automatically" option