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There is an update to this post available: UUIDs and Linux: Everything you ever need to know.

The Universally Unique Identifier can be used to identify a device independent form its mount point or device name. This is more and more important as many devices today support hot-plugging or are external anyway. Therefore it makes sometimes sense to access a device (for example in fstab) not by device name but by the UUID.

There are several ways to get the UUID. The first one uses the /dev/ directory. While you are on is you might want to check other by-* directories, I never knew of them.

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$ ls -l /dev/disk/by-uuid
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 11. Okt 18:02 53cdad3b-4b01-4a6c-a099-be1cdf1acf6d -> ../../sda2

Another way to get the uuid by usage of the tool blkid:

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$ blkid /dev/sda1
/dev/sda1: LABEL="/" UUID="ee7cf0a0-1922-401b-a1ae-6ec9261484c0" SEC_TYPE="ext2" TYPE="ext3"

There you also get the label and other information. Quite usefule.

Btw., if you wonder how “unique” this unique is, here a quote from Wikipedia:

1 trillion UUIDs would have to be created every nanosecond for 10 billion years to exhaust the number of UUIDs.

Pretty unique.

Thanks to Linux By Examples for the initial howto.

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