when I plug in a sata drive, it auto mounts fine, but cannot access it unless I give root password. That's fine too. But I cannot write to it. FS at the current time is ext2 for the partitions on the mounted sata drive.
confirming the "slow to open file manager". Thunar takes longer to open than FF does. When it's finally open it runs fine, just don't close it, or you'll have to wait for it to open back up again. In 2.4 it was "starting" to do this, but not nearly as bad. In 2.1 I didn't see this art all, in fact in 2.1 the entire thing ran pretty fly. Not sure what changed there from those releases, but that may give an idea how far to track back.