(I am running openSUSE 13.2)

My current setup

I have an external backup drive which I mount at boot with the following line in my /etc/fstab:

/dev/mapper/cr_backup    /backup    ext4     comment=systemd.automount,nofail 0 2

I have the nofail option because sometimes the backup drive is not present and I do not want the boot to hang in this case.

The problem

When the backup drive is not present, running ls on my root directory enters an infinite loop which I must cancel with ctrl+c. The error message is:

ls: cannot access /backup: Interrupted system call

It seems that ls is failing because it's trying to access the backup drive and cannot.

One solution would be to nest the backup drive at /backup/backup so that ls / does not trip up. However this feels like a dirty hack and I'm wondering if there is a more elegant solution (I'm keen to learn more about how the system works!).

In my (limited) experience with mount, if a device isn't mounted then the mount point is an empty directory. Can I achieve something similar here? I would need to be careful though since I have automatic hourly backups scheduled which currently do not run if the device isn't mounted. I definitely don't want the backup to just dump everything in the empty directory if it hasn't mounted the backup drive!

2 Answers 2


In my opinion its a bad practice to try to mount a backup filesystem at startup because if something going wrong (rm -rf / [enter] ops), the data on backup probably will be deleted together.

So if you are using a script to do this, mount inside the script, or inside cron, and umount when done.

With that your startup will not hangs anymore, and you will have the filesystem working.

But, another solution is to remove it from fstab, and put as a mount command in rc.local with "&" char to run it in background:

mount /dev/mapper/cr_backup /backup -t ext4&

For removable devices, you have the autofs solution too: https://linuxconfig.org/automatically-mount-usb-external-drive-with-autofs


I know you're runing SUSE, but this statement from the Ubuntu fstab wiki (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Fstab) may point you in the right direction :

Removable devices such as flash drives can be added to fstab, but are typically mounted by gnome-volume-manager and are beyond the scope of this document.

UPDATE: This might be of interest http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/tip/17785.html, an old-ish article about SUSE.

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