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I'm currently setting up a laptop for my grandparents to use. They have never used a computer before, so I'm trying to make this as fool-proof as possible. The system will be setup with Ubuntu 10.10.

In order to save them the hassle of having to unmount USB drives before disconnecting them, I would like to have all USB drives auto-mounted as read-only (possible use cases for now only include them getting data from people, not them copying anything to the drive).

I have so far found that gnome-volume-manager is responsible for the handy auto-mount, but I didn't find any way to set options, like always mounting drives read-only.

Is that possible? If so, how?

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At this point I'll assume your system uses Udev and not HAL. So you want to create a rule file in /etc/udev/rules.d/ named, as an example, 25-usb-read-only.rules

In that file put this:

KERNEL=="sd*", SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", MODE="0555"

Restart udev or reboot and you should be set.

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hal controls the options used when volumes are automounted.

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This lets me dig a little deeper, but I've still not found a way to specify that all usb devices should be mounted read-only. :-/ – BennyInc Oct 7 '10 at 10:39
    
Check linux.sysfs_path for presence of /usb*/ and /block/. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 7 '10 at 10:52

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