4 Useful Way to Know Plugged USB Device Name in Linux

As a newbie, one of the many things you should master in Linux is identification of devices attached to your system. It may be your computer’s hard disk, an external hard drive or removable media such USB drive or SD Memory card.

Using USB drives for file transfer is so common today, and for those (new Linux users) who prefer to use the command line, learning the different ways to identify a USB device name is very important, when you need to format it.

Suggested Read: 3 Ways to Delete All Files in a Directory

Once you attach a device to your system such as a USB, especially on a desktop, it is automatically mounted to a given directory, normally under /media/username/device-label and you can then access the files in it from that directory. However, this is not the case with a server where you have to manually mount a device and specify its mount point.

Linux identifies devices using special device files stored in /dev directory. Some of the files you will find in this directory include /dev/sda or /dev/hda which represents your first master drive, each partition will be represented by a number such as /dev/sda1 or /dev/hda1 for the first partition and so on.

$ ls /dev/sda* 
List All Linux Device Names

List All Linux Device Names

Now let’s find out device names using some different command-line tools as shown:

Find Out Plugged USB Device Name Using df Command

To view each device attached to your system as well as its mount point, you can use the df command (checks Linux disk space utilization) as shown in the image below:

$ df -h
Find USB Device Name Using df Command

Find USB Device Name Using df Command

Use lsblk Command to Find USB Device Name

You can also use the lsblk command (list block devices) which lists all block devices attached to your system like so:

$ lsblk
List Linux Block Devices

List Linux Block Devices

Identify USB Device Name with fdisk Utility

fdisk is a powerful utility which prints out the partition table on all your block devices, a USB drive inclusive, you can run it will root privileges as follows:

$ sudo fdisk -l
List Partition Table of Block Devices

List Partition Table of Block Devices

Determine USB Device Name with dmesg Command

dmesg is an important command that prints or controls the kernel ring buffer, a data structure which stores information about the kernel’s operations.

Run the command below to view kernel operation messages which will as well print information about your USB device:

$ dmesg
dmesg - Prints USB Device Name

dmesg – Prints USB Device Name

That is all for now, in this article, we have covered different approaches of how to find out a USB device name from the command line. You can also share with us any other methods for the same purpose or perhaps offer us your thoughts about the article via the response section below.

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Aaron Kili

Aaron Kili is a Linux and F.O.S.S enthusiast, an upcoming Linux SysAdmin, web developer, and currently a content creator for TecMint who loves working with computers and strongly believes in sharing knowledge.

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17 Responses

  1. Swaraj says:

    When i plug in USB device in Linux, its not detecting anything. Can we have solution for this?

  2. Jim Mooney says:

    I still have no idea how to make sure by winchester external drive is the right one. I thought I had it and then formatted my main computer drive by mistake. That was a problem.

    • Aaron Kili says:

      @Jim

      You can always identify drives or partitions by their file system type, size as well mount points, however, taking some time to understand naming of storage media under /dev virtual file system will help you avoid such mistakes in the future.

  3. Daniel says:

    What I need is a name like /dev/somename for a device that is NOT a mass storage device. No luck yet.

    I did try lsusb, ls /dev/*, df -h, lsblk, sudo fdisk -l.

    These are all for mass storage devices like memory sticks, camera card readers or external HD

    Then I tried also usb-devices which lists other devices too, like mouse, printer etc, But it gives some bus number and some device number, no /dev name

    The reason is that I tried to install the “Samsung unified linux driver” which asks me for the device name of my printer. Unfortunately the names it proposes are crap since they do not exist on my machine !

    They propose /dev/mft4 up to /dev/mft11. None of these do exist…
    I let it do with /dev/mft4 with a bad presentiment.

    So finally the installation software affirmed that the driver has been successfully installed and when I click on “testprint” it says that the device can not be found. Of course…

    Still no solution in sight !

  4. Dan St-Andre says:

    Some of us use external USB-connected drives as system-wide storage. I, for one, would like to mount those file systems elsewhere than /media/{username}. Also, I’d like to use a standard name for some “media” drives instead of a changing label or UUID identifier.

    For example, the flash storage from my digital camera, I’d like to mount as “…/camera” regardless of the label/UUID.

    Consider an article that explains how to accomplish that.

  5. Joe Beach says:

    What about USB devices that are not for data storage? Cameras, humidity sensors, A-D converters, all kinds of tools for monitoring the physical world.

    • Aaron Kili says:

      @Joe

      Very good question, as of now, we can not tell how that can be done, since we have not dealt with the devices you are talking about. However, we will definitely look for more information concerning this question and find relevant ways or command line tools for listing or identifying such(Cameras, humidity sensors, A-D converters, all kinds of tools for monitoring the physical world) USB devices.

      Thanks for getting in touch.

  6. Ren Yuntao says:

    We can also use lsblk and parted.

  7. Bruce Lytle says:

    This commands listed will only deal with block devices.
    For simplicity and to find ALL USB devices try “lsusb -v”. This will tell you everything you need to know about any USB device.

    • Aaron Kili says:

      @Bruce

      lsusb -v is a good command, however, it can work well for advanced users. Newbies may not find its output easy to understand, but it offers more in-depth information about USB devices. Above all. thanks for informing us, we will add it to the list above.

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