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I experienced that constantly with Mandrake 10.1. Do you have an updated kernel (like 2.6.x)? It's my understanding that the 2.6 series uses dynamic devices, and to be honest, I was never able to get the stupid thing to work properly with USB devices.
I got the camera to mount with the command :
mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/camera
I got the thumbdrive to mount with:
mount -t vfat /dev/sda /mnt/flash
Does anyone know why the commands are different? I am not complaining, I am just glad it works, but I really wish that I could understand the difference, as opposed to me just getting lucky with some help from lq.org.