I don’t know if this is true or not (in general), but it is for me. When I was a Mac user, and then for a short time a Windows user, I pretty much had my hard drive and that was it. I had no other operating systems installed, so my computer booted from the hard drive, which is where I kept my documents, music and videos. I didn’t need any partitions. Once I switched to Linux, however, that changed. Now I had both Linux and Windows installed (and occasionally Mac OS X as well). So I almost always had two operating systems installed, which meant two partitions. And since I wanted my documents available regardless of whether I booted into Windows or Linux, I added another partition, this one just for files. And then I added an external hard drive.
What I needed (without really knowing it), was a simple way to mount and access those partitions. Sure, Nautilus (the file browser for GNOME Linux), shows all your partitions, mounted or not, in the sidebar. But you have to have a browser window open all the time to access the sidebar. And there is a standard panel applet (called Disk Mounter), but while it did everything I wanted, it also gave me a little icon for every single partition or disk on the computer. That meant if I currently had both Windows and Mac OS X installed (besides Linux), along with an external hard drive and an internal files partition, I had five little hard drive icons, and even one more if I plugged in my camera’s SD card! It was a little out of control.
So I was thrilled to see a little Panel Applet called Media Applet which solved my problems.
Not only does Media Applet do everything Disk Mounter does, it does it all from a single Panel icon. Instead of showing (in the panel), one icon per partition or disk, Media Applet gives you a drop-down menu with every partition and disk shown, from which you can mount or unmount everything, as well as clicking on the name of the partition or disk to open it.
It’s really simple.
Better yet, there’s nothing to configure. The second you start it up, all your partitions and disks, whether internal or external (as long as they’re connected), show up. Clicking the name of the filesystem immediately launches your file manager (Nautilus in my case), to the root of that file system. If the file system isn’t mounted, you’ll see a little hard drive icon off to the right. Click that and the drive or partition is mounted, and then you can click the name to open it.
When you’re done, it’s also easy to unmount a drive. Each mounted file system shows the standard “eject” icon, and clicking that… well… it does what you’d expect.
In my mind, Media Applet is almost perfect just like it is (and it’s currently only at version 0.4.0). There are just two changes I’d like to see. When a file system isn’t mounted, I’d like to simply click on it in order to mount it and open it at the same time. As it is now, where you have to mount it and then open it, it seems like a waste. It seems like a little bit of efficiency to be able to mount and open the drive at the same time… but maybe there’s a reason for it I’m not thinking of.
Still, Media Applet is wonderful. I love having everything just a click or two away, without having my task bar filled with tiny little hard drive icons (especially for drives I’ll never mount in Linux, such as my Windows or Mac partition). And that is the second change I’d like to see. Media Applet is smart enough to know that there’s no point in mounting my swap partition, since there’s no data on it and it’s just used as swap space. So it isn’t shown. I’d love to be able to identify other partitions (the aforementioned boot drives for Windows in particular), because I have no need to open it from within Linux, and even though the space it takes up in the menu is minimal, it’s still wasted space.
So if you’re like me, with lots of partitions and in search of an easy way to access them, give Media Applet a try.