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For example: I have an external HDD and wish to mount the "backup data" partition so that it appears as a separate device, just for coolness.

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So you have your external harddisk, let's say /dev/sdb, and you want that /dev/sdb2 (your backup data partition) is shown as /dev/sdc2? Or aren't you talking about device files? – jaume Nov 25 '12 at 21:30
What I'm aiming for as an MBR table setup is something like ... /dev/sda: external HDD I'm booting from. /dev/sda1: "/" partition - boot flag, /dev/sda2: swap partition, /dev/sda3: backup data partition. My question is, can I mount /dev/sda3 so that it appears as if I am loop mounting a file - e.g. can I do mkdir -p /mnt/disk and then mount -o loop /dev/sda3 /mnt/disk – willbuntu Nov 26 '12 at 11:29
You can definitely do mkdir -p /mnt/disk and then mount -o loop /dev/sda3 /mnt/disk (mount will show the line: /dev/sda3 on /tmp/mnt type ext3 (rw,loop=/dev/loop0), losetup -a will say: /dev/loop0: [XXXX]:YYYY (/dev/sda3))... But I'm still at a loss as to what you are trying to achieve with this (apart from the coolness you mention, that is...). – jaume Nov 26 '12 at 15:46
Yeah, coolness is pretty much it. I want it to look like the backup partition is a separate drive. Mostly for showing-off purposes... – willbuntu Nov 26 '12 at 19:55

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