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The fstab (for file systems table) file is commonly found on Unix systems as part of the system configuration. The fstab file typically lists all available disks and disk partitions, and indicates how they are to be initialized or otherwise integrated into the overall system's file system.

The fstab file is most commonly used by the mount command, which reads the fstab file to determine which options should be used when mounting the specified device.

Traditionally, the fstab was only read by programs, and not written. However, some administration tools can automatically build and edit fstab, or act as graphical editors for it, such as the Kfstab graphical configuration utility available for KDE. Modern systems use udev to handle hot swapping devices instead of rewriting fstab file on the fly. It is the duty of the system administrator to properly create and maintain this file.

The file may have other names on a given Unix variant; for example, it is /etc/vfstab on Solaris.



The following is an example of an fstab file on a Red Hat Linux system:

# device name mount point fs-type options dump-freq pass-num LABEL=/ / ext3 defaults 1 1 /dev/hda6 swap swap defaults 0 0 none /dev/pts devpts gid=5,mode=620 0 0 none /proc proc defaults 0 0 none /dev/shm tmpfs defaults 0 0 # Removable media /dev/cdrom /mount/cdrom udf,iso9660 noauto,owner,kudzu,ro 0 0 /dev/fd0 /mount/floppy auto noauto,owner,kudzu 0 0 # NTFS Windows XP partition /dev/hda1 /mnt/WinXP ntfs-3g quiet,defaults,locale=en_US.utf8,umask=0 0 0 # Partition shared by Windows and Linux /dev/hda7 /mnt/shared vfat umask=000 0 0

The columns are as follows:

  1. The device name or other means of locating the partition or data source.
  2. The mount point, where the data is to be attached to the filesystem.
  3. The filesystem type, or the algorithm used to interpret the filesystem.
  4. Options, including if the filesystem should be mounted at boot. (kudzu is an option specific to Red Hat and Fedora Core.)
  5. dump-freq adjusts the archiving schedule for the partition (used by dump).
  6. pass-num indicates the order in which the fsck utility will scan the partitions for errors when the computer powers on.

A value of zero in either of the last 2 columns disables the corresponding feature.[1]

Options common to all filesystems

As the filesystems in /etc/fstab will eventually be mounted using mount(8) it isn't surprising that the options field simply contains a comma-separated list of options which will be passed directly to mount when it tries to mount the filesystem.

The options common to all filesystems are:

auto / noauto
With the auto option, the device will be mounted automatically at bootup or when the mount -a command is issued. auto is the default option. If you don't want the device to be mounted automatically, use the noauto option in /etc/fstab. With noauto, the device can be mounted only explicitly..
dev / nodev
Interpret/do not interpret block special devices on the filesystem.
exec / noexec
exec lets you execute binaries that are on that partition, whereas noexec doesn't let you do that. noexec might be :useful for a partition that contains no binaries, like /var, or contains binaries you don't want to execute on your system, or that can't even be executed on your system. Last might be the case of a Windows partition.
Mount read-only.
Mount the filesystem read-write. Again, using this option might alleviate confusion on the part of new Linux users who are frustrated because they can't write to their floppies, Windows partitions, or other media.
sync / async
How the input and output to the filesystem should be done. sync means it's done synchronously. If you look at the example fstab, you'll notice that this is the option used with the floppy. In plain English, this means that when you, for example, copy a file to the floppy, the changes are physically written to the floppy at the same time you issue the copy command.
suid / nosuid
Permit/Block the operation of suid, and sgid bits.
user / nouser
Permit any user to mount the filesystem. This automatically implies noexec, nosuid, nodev unless overridden. If nouser is specified, only root can mount the filesystem.
owner (This is Linux specific)
Permit the owner of device to mount.
Use default settings. Equivalent to rw,suid,dev,exec,auto,nouser,async.

Filesystem specific options

There are many options for the specific filesystems supported by mount. Listed below are some of the more commonly used. For the full list check out the man page for mount.


check={none, normal, strict}
Sets the fsck checking level.
Print debugging info on each remount.
n is the block which should be used as the superblock for the fs.


check={r[elaxed], n[ormal], s[trict]}
Not the same as ext2, but rather deals with allowed filenames. See mount(8).
conv={b[inary], t[ext], a[uto]}
Performs DOS<->UNIX text file conversions automatically. See mount(8).
uid=n, gid=n
Sets the user identifier, uid, and group identifier, gid, for all files on the filesystem.
umask=nnn, dmask=nnn, fmask=nnn
Sets the user file creation mode mask, umask, the same for directories only, dmask and for files only, fmask.


Disables Rock Ridge extensions.

More detailed information about the fstab file can be found in the man page about it.[2]

Mounting all filesystems

mount -a

This command will mount all (not-yet-mounted) filesystems mentioned in fstab and is used in system script startup during booting.


There is some debate regarding the pronunciation of fstab. Variations include "Eff-ess-tab", "F-stab" or even just "stab" with a hint of "F". The predominant form appears to be "Eff-ess-tab".[citation needed]

See also

External links


Categories: Computer file systems | Configuration files | UnixHidden categories: Articles lacking sources from April 2008 | All articles lacking sources | All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since March 2008

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