Preferences for the Drive Mount Applet

In my previous article, I outlined the thought process behind the redesign of the drive mount applet. Although it ended up without any preferences, I don’t necessarily think that it doesn’t need any preferences.

A number of people commented on the last entry requesting a particular preference: the ability to hide certain drives in the drive list. Some of the options include:

  1. Let the user select which individual drives to display
  2. Let the user select which classes of drive to display (floppy, cdrom, camera, music player, etc).
  3. Select whether to display drives only when they are mounted, or only when they are mountable (this applies to drives which contain removable media).

Of these choices, the first is probably the simplest to understand, so might be the best choice. It could be represented in the UI as a list of the available drives with a checkbox next to each. In order to not hide new drives by default, it would probably be best to maintain a list of drives to hide rather than drives to show.

It does bring up the question of how to identify what a “drive” is. On my Ubuntu system, the first USB mass storage device I plug in usually gets the same mount point. If we identify drives by their mount point, hiding that mount point will effectively hide all of those drives. Perhaps the HAL UDI would be appropriate here.

The third choice is also interesting: why display an icon for a removable media drive if there is no media in the drive? This sort of feature could probably be implemented independently of the previously discussed choice. It is also the sort of change that probably needs to be addressed in gnome-vfs and HAL though. Fixing it at that level would also provide the same benefit to other GnomeVFSVolumeMonitor using apps, such as Nautilus.

5 Comments

  1. Stephane Chauveau
    Posted 16 December, 2005 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    My feeling is that the applet could change the way it displays the drives.
    The alternative way could be a single button/icon that opens a popup window displaying all drives (a bit like the calendar window obtained by clicking on the clock applet).

    The old and the new methods could cohabitate for example, by providing an option to limit the number of drives that can be displayed in the panel before switching to the button mode. A side effect is that the maximal size of the applet is known so it would make sense to use a fixed size for the applet (applets with dynamix sizes are always a pain).

    The button could provide some information (e.g. number of drives) and it could also ‘flash’ when a drive is added or removed.

  2. Anders Olsson
    Posted 17 December, 2005 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    I think that a common reason that people try the drive mount applet is because there’s no fast and easy way to unmount/eject removable media in gnome. One either needs to find the drive icon which exists somewhere on the desktop which in turn is buried under all the application windows or one needs to find an open nautilus window or open a new one where one can right click the drive and choose eject. I’m sure there are many other ways as well but no really quick and easy one.

    I’m thinking this is a use case that the drive mount applet is not well suited for and shouldn’t need to be. Removable media is normally automounted so I never need to mount it manually. And if I want to open a removable drive in nautilus I can do it equally easy from the Places menu. Maybe right-clicking the drive in the Places menu should bring up a menu where I can unmount it as I can in nautilus?

    Anyway, my point is that the only functionality that is normally needed in regards to removable media is the ability to unmount it, which should be provided by the desktop and not by a special applet because it is a very common and universally needed feature. I think the drive mount applet is more useful for drives that I need to manually mount and unmount, such as harddrive partitions that I don’t want permanently mounted or network drives that are not always available.

  3. Stephane Chauveau
    Posted 17 December, 2005 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    > the only functionality that is normally needed in
    > regards to removable media is the ability to unmount it

    Well… unplugging a memory card without unmounting it first is unsafe so I tend to unmount my cards without unpluging them. Later I may have to re-mount it.

    Also, do not forget that automount is not always the right thing to do. Within a few years, wireless drives will be very common (in key chains, mobile phones, …) . Do you want to automount your neigbours Wifi key drive each time he turns it on? I do not think so.

    Automount is also a security risk. First because they could carry viruses but also because it takes only a few seconds for an outsider to upload or download large amount of data using a simple usb key. By the way, Gnome should have a (non-user controled) option to enforce some kinds of authentification (password, GPG key, device ID, …) before any removable volume can be mounted.

  4. Rob J. Caskey
    Posted 17 December, 2005 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    I would suggest that if you could right click on the entry in the places side bar in Nautilus and select Eject most people could do without this applet.

    Sincerely,
    –Rob

  5. anon
    Posted 17 December, 2005 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, I am glad to hear that work is put into this. I currently have 9 icons visible (4 x USB + 4 x NFS + 1 x DVD). I only wanted a way to unmount my iPod.