A couple of my opinions:
1) If this is for your machine with 4G of RAM, how about using tmpfs for /tmp? Add a line somewhat like this to fstab:
tmpfs /tmp tmpfs rw,suid,dev,exec,auto,nouser,async,noatime 0 0
All your temp files will go into memory, which will speed up things. I have been doing that for over a year on my machine with 2G + swap, never had a problem.
2) I'd just use HAL and let it do the auto-mounting as soon as you click on the drive icon in your file manager.
4-5) Much depends on your WM/DE setup. Specify if you use XFCE, KDE, IceWM or whatever.