OK, here's what I setup for a friend. A small itx based samba server running Mandriva 2005LE. The idea is that he's able to plug and unplug external USB2 hard drives containing tons of MP3s and serve them to the computers on his LAN. This is essentially a DIY NAS drive(s). Why externals like this? Well, he can easily pull a drive and take it with him. He can easily keep adding drives to this box which itself is not much bigger than a hard drive itself.
But, although this works, there's one drawback. Linux MUST be running a GUI like KDE or Gnome before hard drives like this can be hotswappable/automounted. Can you believe this? The automounting of external drives like this can only happen if gvm (GNOME Volume Manager) is running and gvm only runs with a GUI like KDE or Gnome. As soon as I try and boot the machine into init 3, goodbye automounting of these drives which defeats the purpose of ease of use.
I'm bringing this up with the hopes that the Linux development community will give some consideration to getting automounting like this to work without a GUI. Linux has been famous for it's server abilities, but somewhere in the mix, the development community has decided to allocate automounting of these drives to only desktop machines running resource hungry GUIs.
PS. More info on the subject of hald and automounting and udev can be found in this article: