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OS X Firewire Mount Point

Automount Firewire Drive on OS X Leopard at a Custom Mount Point

This is a tutorial on how to automatically mount your firewire drive to a custom mount point on OS X 10.5 Leopard. Variants will probably work with USB 2.0 drives, and internal SATA drives, and probably for IDE drives for G4 or G5 macs. For this, you will need a little familiarity with the UNIX side of OS X, and more specifically, with the /Applications/Utilities/Terminal application. You will also need to know how to use vi, I think. If that is beyond you, then you probably wouldn't be reading this.

  1. Connect your firewire drive and then log in to your favorite account to mount the firewire drive.
  2. Get the UUID of the drive in Terminal ("MyFWDrive" is the name of your firewire drive):
    diskutil info /Volumes/MyFWDrive

    This command is going to spew out a lot of info, but the stuff you want is on the line that starts: "Volume UUID:". You want the long identifier afterwords. E.g.: A740D396-D42D-3348-BD87-709342F87840

  3. In Terminal, make your mount point directory:
    sudo mkdir -p /my/mount/point
  4. Edit your /etc/fstab file the OS X approved way with vifs (in Terminal):

  5. sudo vifs

    And add the equivalent to this line ("/my/mount/point" is your mount point from Step 3 and the UUID is the same you got from Step 2):

    UUID=A740D396-D42D-3348-BD87-709342F87840 /my/mount/point hfs rw 1 0

    In vi the way to do this is

    • When vifs starts up, hit "G" (shifted-g) to go to the end of the file.
    • Hit the "o" key to go into insert mode on a new line.
    • Paste in the above line.
    • Hit the [ESCAPE] key to go out of insert mode.
    • Type in ":wq" to save and quit the vifs session (don't forget the ":" before the "wq").
    • Your /etc/fstab file will probably end up looking something like this:
      # Warning - this file should only be modified with vifs(8)
      # Failure to do so is unsupported and may be destructive.
      UUID=A740D396-D42D-3348-BD87-709342F87840 /my/mount/point hfs rw 1 0
  6. With your newly acquired vi skills, edit or create the autodiskmount.plist file from Terminal:
    sudo vi /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/autodiskmount.plist
    If you get a blank file, then paste in the following into the blank file (emulate the vifs instructions from Step 4):
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
    <plist version="1.0">

    If you get a file with some settings, make sure the value that follows the "AutomountDisksWithoutUserLogin" key is <true/>. Study the above file to get an idea of how the final product might appear.

    Instead of all of the above, you can do the easier and less recommended

    sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/autodiskmount AutomountDisksWithoutUserLogin -bool true

    But hardcore UNIX administrators may not like that because it converts the XML file into a binary file.

  7. Now, reboot your mac and enjoy.


This document is hereby placed in the public domain by its author, James Stroud, 2008.