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How do I add a label to a partition on a disk, and how do I then mount it by label (manually and via fstab)?

note: this is an external hard drive

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This would depend on your unix variant and partitioning method. Some partitioning methods (such as the usual PC one) don't support labels, but most filesystems do, which may be enough for you. – Gilles Oct 24 '10 at 22:33
up vote 12 down vote accepted

If your partition is ext2,ext3 or ext4, you can use the e2label command to set the label:

       e2label - Change the label on an ext2/ext3/ext4 filesystem

       e2label device [ new-label ]

after you have set the label to, say, "data" you can add a line in /etc/fstab like this one

LABEL=data /mnt/data ext4 noauto,users,rw 0 0

then you just need to say mount /mnt/data. If you don't want to modify fstab you can use mount's -L option to specify the label:

mount -L data /mnt/data
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relatime should be redundant on recent kernels it's the default now, iirc. – xenoterracide Oct 24 '10 at 20:54
Thanks, changed. – fschmitt Oct 24 '10 at 20:55

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