The configuration file /etc/fstab contains the necessary information to automate the process of mounting partitions. In a nutshell, mounting is the process where a raw (physical) partition is prepared for access and assigned a location on the file system tree (or mount point).

* In general fstab is used for internal devices, CD/DVD devices, and network shares (samba/nfs/sshfs). Removable devices such as flash drives *can* be added to fstab, but are typically mounted by gnome-volume-manager and are beyond the scope of this document.
* Options for mount and fstab are similar.
* Partitions listed in fstab can be configured to automatically mount during the boot process.
* If a device/partition is not listed in fstab ONLY ROOT may mount the device/partition.
* Users may mount a device/partition if the device is in fstab with the proper options.

ubuntuforums-how to fstab
filesystems and mounting