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So I can do the following:

mount /dev/datavg/datalv /mnt


mount /dev/mapper/datavg-datalv /mnt

Are these the same? Is their an advantage to one over the other? Is one better practice?

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Check if they return the same device when listing with ls -la. If that's the case, they are equivalent. However, I've always preferred /dev/mapper because it is easier to read and mentally sort in /etc/fstab (at least for me). – jaume Mar 1 '13 at 14:51
Thanks for the info. I especially appreciate you showing me how to find the info for myself. Both symlinks appear to point to the same device. – HayekSplosives Mar 1 '13 at 15:41
You're welcome, I've expanded my comment as an answer and added a reason as to why you should use /dev/mapper devices in /etc/fstab. Take a look at it. – jaume Mar 1 '13 at 18:55
up vote 3 down vote accepted

To check whether they are the same see what ls -la lists for both files:

$ ls -l /dev/datavg/datalv 
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 25 2013-03-01 19:02 /dev/datavg/datalv -> /dev/mapper/datavg-datalv
$ ls -l /dev/mapper/datavg-datalv 
brw------- 1 root root 253, 0 2013-03-01 19:02 /dev/mapper/datavg-datalv

As you see, there's a small difference:

/dev/mapper/datavg-datalv is a device file while /dev/datavg/datalv is a symbolic link.

Although both paths they are interchangeable in commands like mount or fdisk:

# mount /dev/datavg/datalv /mnt
# mount /dev/mapper/datavg-datalv /mnt

my experience is that you should use the device file in /etc/fstab, for example:

/dev/mapper/datavg-datalv /mnt ext3 acl,user_xattr 1 2

How come I recommend this? A couple of years ago I had an issue with a server that didn't come up after a reboot and the cause was a missing device symlink for an LVM filesystem listed in /etc/fstab.

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I think the best method to mount partitions is using UUID instead of a fixed block device path in /etc/fstab. Because udev sets up these device files and if your udev is broken you have exactly the issue as you describe. Using UUID you didn't have these problems at all. – morlix Mar 2 '13 at 10:18
Yes, you can use UUIDs, but remember that mount looks for entries in /dev/disk/by-uuid/ (see man mount), which are symlinks to the device files. The symlinks are created by udev (find the specific rule grepping for "by-uuid" in /lib/udev/rules.d/ or /etc/udev/rules.d/), so when using UUIDs you depend on udev too. – jaume Mar 6 '13 at 12:39
This is probably the best and most comprehensive answer I've gotten. Thank you very much – HayekSplosives Mar 8 '13 at 17:58
Thank you very much, I'm glad I could help. – jaume Mar 8 '13 at 18:07

The answers above are spot-on about checking to see if they are identical. However, I have found a place where the syntax can make a difference for some flavors of Linux:

In Ubuntu 14.04, I've discovered that LVM isn't brought online automatically for mount points with a device path of /dev/VG/LV -- the device path must be in the form /dev/mapper/vg--lv before the system will bring up LVM (i.e. invoke vgscan/vgchange) at boot time.

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