Debian, Hotplug and Gnome-volume-manager mini-HOWTO

James Ballantine, james at



Under Debian and Gnome 2.8+, to have media such as CDs and USB drives appear automatically on the desktop when inserted.

Required Debian packages


Begin by installing the above packages and any dependencies they have. Gnome-volume-manager is a part of the Gnome metapackage, I believe.


Udev is the new management system for /dev. It dynamically creates device nodes under /dev as they become available. Testing to see whether you have it working is quite simple: If you have an extra entry in your listing now, representing the new drive you plugged in, udev is behaving correctly.


The main difficulty here is that your user needs to be a part of the group 'plugdev' to use gnome-volume-manager, but it doesn't tell you. So first of all, add yourself to the plugdev group. Imagining your name is mary, edit /etc/group as root and find the line that begins with plugdev, something like plugdev:x:113:. Add yourself to it, like this: plugdev:x:113:mary, and then reboot.

Difficulties with Gnome-volume-manager

Supposing that doesn't work, in order to get gnome-volume-manager to print its errors, do something like the following, as your normal user inside a gnome session: This should induce the volume manager to print its errors to stdout for you to read (this was how I discovered that it doesn't have rights to mount things without being a member of plugdev).