Setting Up The Automounter Service on RHEL

Mounting filesystems in RHEL is pretty straightforward and easy. Occasionally, however, you will not want the filesystem to remain mounted all the time, but rather to automatically mount for a set period of time only when it is needed. Because of networking overhead, and the general unreliability of networks, NFS mounts are a good example of when this can be especially useful.

In order to manage the automatic mounting and unmounting of filesystems on RHEL, we use the Automounter service. Here is how.

First, The main configuration file is “/etc/auto.master”. It should look something like this:

#
# $Id: auto.master,v 1.3 2003/09/29 08:22:35 raven Exp $
#
# Sample auto.master file
# This is an automounter map and it has the following format
# key [ -mount-options-separated-by-comma ] location
# For details of the format look at autofs(5).
#/misc  /etc/auto.misc --timeout=60
#/misc  /etc/auto.misc
#/net   /etc/auto.net


Let’s assume that we want to set up an NFS mount on “/misc/backups”. We would first create an entry in this file that looks something like this:

/misc   /etc/auto.misc --timeout=120


This tells the autofs service that we want to use it to manage mounts from within “/misc”, that the configuration file is “/etc/auto.misc”, and that it should disconnect after 2 minuets of inactivity.

Now, let’s edit the “/etc/auto.misc” file. The file has three columns: the mount point from within the /misc directory, the options for mounting the filesystem, and the filesystem to be mounted. It also includes the remote server’s name since we are using NFS. It should look something like this when you are done:

#
# $Id: auto.misc,v 1.2 2003/09/29 08:22:35 raven Exp $
#
# This is an automounter map and it has the following format
# key [ -mount-options-separated-by-comma ] location
# Details may be found in the autofs(5) manpage

cd              -fstype=iso9660,ro,nosuid,nodev :/dev/cdrom
backups         -rw,soft,intr remoteservername:/path/to/nfs/export

# the following entries are samples to pique your imagination
#linux          -ro,soft,intr           ftp.example.org:/pub/linux
#boot           -fstype=ext2            :/dev/hda1
#floppy         -fstype=auto            :/dev/fd0
#floppy         -fstype=ext2            :/dev/fd0
#e2floppy       -fstype=ext2            :/dev/fd0
#jaz            -fstype=ext2            :/dev/sdc1
#removable      -fstype=ext2            :/dev/hdd


Next, we create the directory for the mount point in /misc:

# mkdir /misc/backups

And finally we restart the autofs service:

# service autofs restart

That should pretty much do it. If you don’t have autofs configured to start up, you can use chkconfig to enable it. “/misc/backups” will now be mounted whenever a user or process attempts to access data on it, and it will be automatically disconnected after 120 seconds of inactivity. Last, but not least, you can always confirm that it is running with the “service” command:

# service autofs status

As always, change the details to match your own requirements.

4 thoughts on “Setting Up The Automounter Service on RHEL

  1. About a year ago I was looking for just such a mechanism, but I never found out about autofs. What I did was put “0 * * * * /bin/mount -a -t nfs” in root’s crontab. It’s ugly, and I think I’ll replace it with autofs.

  2. I have tried to mount my pendrive on rhel4 using the abovementioned steps. But failed. The auto.master entry is “/media /etc/auto.removable
    and the auto.removable looks as under :
    cd -fstype=iso9660,ro,nosuid,nodev :/dev/cdrom
    removable -fstype=ext2 :/dev/sdc1
    After this restarted the autofs service but the pen drive is not mounted. Can anybody tell me how to mount pendrive automatically.

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