In FHS, /mnt is provided so that the system administrator may temporarily mount a filesystem as needed.

And, /media contains subdirectories that are used as mount points for removable media such as floppy disks, CD-ROMs and, zip disks.

So, what are the differences between these two directories?

If I mount CD temporarily, then which directory should be used?
If /mnt is not for permanently mounted devices, then removable devices(which should be mounted in /media) are "Permanently Mounted" devices?

  • You can use whatever you want - there are no real differences. Only historically different usage.
    – Panki
    Jan 10 '20 at 8:20

The FHS explains /media thus:

Historically there have been a number of other different places used to mount removable media such as /cdrom, /mnt or /mnt/cdrom. Placing the mount points for all removable media directly in the root directory would potentially result in a large number of extra directories in /. Although the use of subdirectories in /mnt as a mount point has recently been common, it conflicts with a much older tradition of using /mnt directly as a temporary mount point.

The last sentence explains part of the problem: /mnt is traditionally not a directory containing mount points, it’s the mount point itself (e.g. mount /dev/sdc1 /mnt). Of course nowadays both /mnt and /media are typically directories containing mount points, which avoids the issue, but it doesn’t have to be the case.

Another issue is that /mnt is explicitly the system administrator’s domain, which means that programs which want to mount file systems themselves can’t expect to be able to use it. That’s how I tend to think of /media versus /mnt: /media is where removable devices are mounted by desktop environments etc., whereas /mnt is where I (as the system administrator) mount file systems when I need to. I never touch /media directly.

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