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In this question I asked what how to not make a media failure halt the system boot process. However, I got two suggestions for fstab options

  • nobootwait
  • nofail

What is the difference between the two?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

Firstly nofail does not permit the boot sequence to continue if the drive fails to mount.

This is what fstab(5) says about nobootwait

The mountall(8) program that mounts filesystem during boot also recog‐ nises additional options that the ordinary mount(8) tool does not. These are: bootwait which can be applied to remote filesystems mounted outside of /usr or /var, without which mountall(8) would not hold up the boot for these; nobootwait which can be applied to non-remote filesystems to explicitly instruct mountall(8) not to hold up the boot for them; optional which causes the entry to be ignored if the filesystem type is not known at boot time; and showthrough which permits a mountpoint to be mounted before its parent mountpoint (this latter should be used carefully, as it can cause boot hangs).

fstab(5) has this to say about nofail

nofail do not report errors for this device if it does not exist.

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Note that mountall and those options are ubuntu (and its derivatives) specific (and only relatively recent versions where upstart and that mountall was introduced. – Stéphane Chazelas Nov 30 '12 at 22:36
so nofail halts the boot process if a drive fails to mount? – endolith Apr 17 at 0:57
nobootwait is no longer a valid option in Ubuntu 16.04 (as of 2016-07-10 testing Mythbuntu install/live-DVD). – Kingsley Jul 12 at 2:42

As mentioned by Stéphane, nobootwait is limited to ubuntu+derivatives.

Nofail will keep trying to mount the drive as cjm pointed out, however, the boot process will continue after the mount reaches timeout. If you don't expect the drive to be there regularly as to warrant the extra 90 seconds or so bootup when it's absent, don't automount it in fstab.

(P.S. I put this as cjm's answer sounds as if the system will ultimately fail to boot).

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