One of the changes that seems to have occurred with recent releases of Ubuntu, and with Version 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) in particular, is that icons for mounted external USB drives are no longer displayed on the screen. Now this lends itself to a nice, clean desktop, but it is much harder to safely remove a USB drive than it used to be, i.e. one can’t right-click on an icon that isn’t there!
However, it turns out that, as with most things in Ubuntu, displaying drive icons – or not – is configurable. For those of us running the Gnome desktop, and having gconf-editor installed, it is simply a matter of running this application, navigating to apps – nautilus – desktop, and checking the box for the key labelled volumes_visible.
If you don’t have gconf-editor installed, and don’t wish to, then issue the Terminal command:
gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.desktop volumes-visible true
It should be evident that the process is reversible, if you really do want a clean desktop. Simply uncheck the above-noted box or use the command: gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.desktop volumes-visible false.
Hide Removable Drive Icons from Your Ubuntu Desktop
How to : Show/ Hide Mounted Volumes on the desktop in Ubuntu 11.10