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I have a Raspberry Pi 3 running Raspbian. It's my first one, so please forgive a lot of ignorance. I used NOOBS to install the system, which seems to have left its micro SD card littered with various partitions.

I'm seeing a mounted directory at /media/<username>/SETTINGS that corresponds to a little 32M partition at /dev/mmcblk0p5. Its contents are:

cache
installed_os.json
lost+found
noobs.conf
wpa_supplicant.conf

I can unmount it, apparently without ill effect. But on reboot it comes right back. I'm sharing the external drives with AFP, so for purely aesthetic reasons I would like to not have the SETTINGS directory in /media.

What is the purpose of SETTINGS? Do I still need it? And most importantly, can I tell it to not mount to /media?

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    I do understand the reason for asking this question, because the SETTINGS folder seems so malplaced there. Thanks to Steve Robillard for pointing out the meaning of the different entries in this folder. – netfed Mar 11 at 20:19
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NOOBS has a number of partitions, which are relatively small, as well as the installed OS (2 partitions), which are in an extended partition.

SETTINGS is part of NOOBS, you can ignore it. It is only used if you get to NOOBS (by pressing Shift just after boot).

You can unmount it but next time it will be automatically mounted. The GUI is configured to automatically mount inserted devices.

You can prevent this (IMO undesirable) action by modifying the settings in the File Manager.

Alternatively you can selectively manage by editing /etc/fstab (but this needs care).

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The old aphorism form follows function applies here. You may not like the name and location, but those files are vital to your Pi. For example, wpa_supplicant.conf is used to pre-configure WiFi (as pointed out in the noobs documentation. The rest of the files seem similarly important to the proper functioning of your Pi. For example installed_os.json is used by the noobs menu.

If this is really that big of an issue you can forgo noobs and install each OS independently on separate SD cards. This particular partition is specific to noobs.

IIRC one of the reasons for the location of these files and partition is so that the contents can be edited from any computer, facilitating config changes and recovery. Not all partitions and file types can be viewed from a PC or Mac.

  • Thanks for your answer. I notice there's also a wpa_supplicant.conf at /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf, which appears to be the traditional location. Are you certain the one in SETTINGS is actually used? If you can recall where you saw the information in your last paragraph (or where I can look it up) I would be very interested. – Robert Jul 17 '17 at 21:46
  • Looks like it calls wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf. No reference to SETTINGS. – Robert Jul 17 '17 at 21:53
  • I can't find anything specifically about the SETTINGS directory/partition, but the docs you linked do say "all user settings ... will persist between reboots and will also be automatically passed to the installed OSes". Does this mean NOOBS will overwrite the local settings with whatever is in SETTINGS at every reboot? – Robert Jul 17 '17 at 22:00
  • I don't know I am not a NOOBS user, but I doubt it is quite that simplistic. It may only overwrite if the SETTINGS partiton file is newer. But this is now straying well beyond your initial aesthetics question. – Steve Robillard Jul 17 '17 at 22:19
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Milliways's answer is excellent, but I wanted to maintain auto-mounting of external media and just disable it for the SETTINGS partition. I ended up adding a line to /etc/fstab to stop it from auto-mounting SETTINGS on boot:

/dev/mmcblk0p5 /mnt/SETTINGS      auto      rw,user,noauto    0    0

Initially I tried leaving its mount point in place and just setting noauto, but it mounted anyway. I think that's because Jessie's file manager's automatic mounting of removable media happens separately from (and well after) the initial mounting directed by fstab.

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