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The computer being used is a Lemote Yeeloong, and the OS is currently Debian Wheezy (mipsel) with no X windows system. So the computer can only be operated with unix commands right now (until I configure an X system).
I plug in the USB, which is formatted with a FAT32 filesystem, and the syslog says to after a few nanoseconds:

[sdc] No caching page mode present
[sdc] Assuming drive cache: write through

Then I type mount /dev/sdc and press ENTER but the computer tells me that it cannot find such a /dev/sdc in /etc/fstab or /etc/mtab.
After which I type df to see if the drive shows up anywhere mounted already or represented in /dev somewhere. But I see nothing.

What should I do? Ultimately I am going to put a new filesystem on this thing so that I can use it to netboot. But I am stuck in this place where I am unable to even mount the device.

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It's mount [device] [mountpoint] unless mountpoint is mentioned in /etc/fstab. From your question I gather it's not mentioned in /etc/fstab, so try

mount /dev/sdc /mnt

(assuming there's only one partition (use sdc1 or something similar otherwise) and a /mnt directory (create one otherwise). Maybe you need to tell it what filesystem type to use, e.g. mount -t vfat /dev/sdc /mnt for a FAT-filesystem USB drive.)

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