Sometimes I really wish they hadn't messed around with Linux so much! I know there's an /etc/fstab in there somewhere, but where?

I'd like to mount some partitions with alternative filesystems (because I don't like FAT32).

5 Answers 5


Don't think about Android as a heavily modified Linux distribution. Because it's not. The nearly only thing that Android shares with a Linux distribution is the kernel. And even this component is modified. Also other core components, like the libc, differ.

Android has no /etc/fstab

You don't need /etc/fstab to mount an partition. But there is IIRC no mount command either.dev_mount should work (root required). To answer your questions title: All startup system mounting is done with the/etc/vold.fstab helper script.

  • Guess I'm a wishful maemo user then really. Yeah it's pretty far away from linux I guess. Thanks for the pointer to vold.fstab !
    – barrymac
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 0:51
  • 4
    Vold.fstab only has sd card stuff on my nexus one
    – gcb
    Commented May 20, 2012 at 21:11

I realize that this is an old topic, but some of the answers here actually hindered my efforts to learn about fstab and Android because they so strongly imply that the fstab situation in Android is extremely different from other Linux distributions. From what I can tell, it isn't.

However, reading different responses here made me wonder: what fstab-equivalent file or files are on my device?

Stepping back for a moment, noting that "Android has no /etc/fstab" is probably not helpful to the OP since they must have already known this. If this were untrue, their question (asking what the Android equivalent of /etc/fstab is) would not make any sense. On the other hand, we know @Flow was not trying to imply that there was no equivalent on Android, since they mentioned one of them, a "helper script" named /etc/vold.fstab.

All in all, I think the takeaway from @Flow's post is that on some systems, there is a file (possibly a "helper script" - I can't verify that on my phone) called /etc/vold.fstab, and on those systems, this file is the nearest equivalent to /etc/fstab.

Getting back to wondering about my own device, I am going to post my findings here for several reasons, in spite of the age of the OP:

  • First, I want to document all of the fstab-style files I can find on my phone, a Pixel 2XL.
  • Second, I want to show people, especially Linux/Android newbies, that it is fairly easy to find these files on your own device ("teach them to fish").
  • Third, it's helpful for me to write up my findings (bonus: I'll always be able to find it again here on StackExchange!).
  • Finally, Google is still serving this page up so there's a chance this will help someone other than me.

So let me try to sum up everything I have learned from all of this:

Android, or at least its variants that I have access to, does make use of fstab-style files. However, the exact name, location, and function of these files vary by distribution - meaning by Android version and device, and also by ROM if you use a custom ROM.

To find these files on your system, open up a terminal emulator like termux or adb shell and run something like this: find / -type f -iname '*fstab*' 2>/dev/null. The redirection of file 2 (stderr) to /dev/null will make your output much cleaner as you will be able to ignore the onslaught of error messages you will get from find, even if you are root.

On my system (a Pixel 2XL, code name "taimen"), I found three candidate files:

taimen:/ # find / -type f -iname '*fstab*' 2>/dev/null


The first two are separate files in that neither is a hard or symbolic link to the other, but if you diff them you will find that they are identical. Looking a little deeper, if you run stat on the files you will see that they have the same Device and Inode values:

taimen:/ # stat /sbin/.core/mirror/vendor/etc/fstab.taimen /vendor/etc/fstab.taimen

  File: `/sbin/.core/mirror/vendor/etc/fstab.taimen'
  Size: 1326     Blocks: 16      IO Blocks: 512 regular file
Device: fc00h/64512d     Inode: 925      Links: 1
Access: (644/-rw-r--r--)        Uid: (    0/    root)   Gid: (    0/    root)
Access: 2009-01-01 02:00:00.000000000
Modify: 2009-01-01 02:00:00.000000000
Change: 2009-01-01 02:00:00.000000000

  File: `/vendor/etc/fstab.taimen'
  Size: 1326     Blocks: 16      IO Blocks: 512 regular file
Device: fc00h/64512d     Inode: 925      Links: 1
Access: (644/-rw-r--r--)        Uid: (    0/    root)   Gid: (    0/    root)
Access: 2009-01-01 02:00:00.000000000
Modify: 2009-01-01 02:00:00.000000000
Change: 2009-01-01 02:00:00.000000000

stat reports both of these filenames as regular files with only one link each (so no hard or symbolic links are involved). I'm not a filesystem expert but what has happened here is that the same device has been mounted twice. You can see this in the output of the following command, where the only differences between the two lines of output in are the mount points (the part immediately after "on"):

taimen:/ $ mount | grep vendor

/dev/block/dm-0 on /vendor type ext4 (ro,seclabel,relatime,block_validity,delalloc,barrier,user_xattr)
/dev/block/dm-0 on /sbin/.core/mirror/vendor type ext4 (ro,seclabel,relatime,block_validity,delalloc,barrier,user_xattr)

The third file is only visible to me if I login as root, so if you have a device identical to mine, you still will not find, or have access to, this file unless your phone is rooted. That file has to do with a service called Open Mobile Alliance Device Management, but that is a service I know very little about, so I will just mention it here, and you can Google for details about that if you'd like.

  • 1
    Old topic indeed, and since then things have changed quite a bit, to the extent that most devices I've built ROMs for would have a standalone fstab file in either /system/etc or /vendor/etc. Thanks for bringing in fresh info.
    – Andy Yan
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 8:42
  • This is useful, however it appears to be useless because dm-0 cannot be remounted R/W in order to edit the fstab, and the only solution I found requires that you have a debug build, which is another rabiit hole I'm not going down.
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 17:57
  • 1
    Thanks for the comment, @Michael. I was just trying to give some background on how to find such files and scripts, which, while only part of the OP's problem, was the only question the OP asked.
    – chris
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 18:52
  • 1
    @chris fair enough
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 16:18

The fstab file is in /.

It's called /fstab.$systemname.rc where $systemname is based on the handset's fingerprint property, either identified as category of chipset or handset itself.

  • 3
    That is dependant and varies from ROM to ROM. In AOSP its /etc/vold.fstab. :)
    – t0mm13b
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 22:04
  • and while it's true for CM10 -- I have /fstab.p1c -- it gets overwritten on reboot by something I haven't yet figured out. Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 12:56
  • 3
    According to source.android.com/devices/storage/config.html, in Android 4.2.2 and earlier it's vold.fstab, and in 4.3 and later it's /fstab.<device>.
    – LarsH
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 16:36
  • 1
    on my Moto E, this file is on read only mounted file system :( Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 11:24

You can remount your external storage to be executable by running

mount -o remount, rw /mnt/sdcard

this will remove the noexec, nosuid and nodev flags, but it will still be vfat fs. You can make links to this fs but not from within. The remount does not survive a reboot, because the vold.fstab file will be read and they will be remounted at reboot with the noexec flags.

If you reformat any of your external storage to anything other than vfat, then they will not be remounted at reboot, and any apps that you have moved to any external storage will not be usable. If you don't intend to use external storage for apps then you can unmount your external storage and use busybox mke2fs DEVICE to make it ext2. Use busybox newfs_msdos DEVICE to return it to vfat and make it usable again.

Note busybox mkfs.vfat is broken, you will get something like

lseek: Value too large for defined data type

so don't waste your time. All of this assumes you are rooted, and have a working busybox binary.


I'm seeing conflicting information. One resource says it's hardcoded, so not something you can change user-side:

Android-specific init programs are found in device/system/init. Add LOG messages to help you debug potential problems with the LOG macro defined in device/system/init/init.c.

The init program directly mounts all filesystems and devices using either hard-coded file names or device names generated by probing the sysfs filesystem (thereby eliminating the need for a /etc/fstab file in Android).

Elsewhere /etc/vold.fstab and /etc/vold.conf are mentioned. I have them on my device under CM 7.1 but I'm not sure of how they are used.

  • 3
    It kind of is hardcoded, but it kind of isn't. There's an init.rc file that lives in your ramdisk, so you can pull your boot.img, extract your ramdisk, and then modify the init.rc and repack it again (briefly discussed here, and Tiamat's source is a good example of setting mountpoints in init.rc) Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 18:18

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