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Notes: This article is currently under heavy restructuring: for its latest stable revision see Dm-crypt with LUKS (Discuss in Talk:Dm-crypt#)

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Notes: Assess the possibility of merging the common content between the two articles in order to avoid duplication. (Discuss in Talk:Plain dm-crypt without LUKS#Merge)

This article focuses on how to set up full system encryption on Arch Linux, using dm-crypt with LUKS.

dm-crypt is the standard device-mapper encryption functionality provided by the Linux kernel. It can be used directly by those who like to have full control over all aspects of partition and key management.

LUKS is an additional convenience layer which stores all of the needed setup information for dm-crypt on the disk itself and abstracts partition and key management in an attempt to improve ease of use.

For more details on how dm-crypt+LUKS compares to other disk encryption solution, see Disk Encryption#Comparison table.


Warning: Encrypting a disk or partition will erase everything currently on that disk or partition:
  • Please make appropriate data backups prior to starting

Also be aware that encrypting a system might not only make the life of laptop thieves more miserable, but also yours if you don't plan ahead on

  • how to make secure backups of the encrypted system/-setup/data and
  • how to access the encrypted system manually for maintenance.
Keeping those points in mind while deciding on how to use encryption may help to decide on method and tools as well.

Initial Setup

Overview and Preparation

The installation of a LUKS-encrypted system is largely the same as installing an unencrypted system. Routine creation of an encrypted system follows these general steps:

  • Secure erasure of the hard disk drive(s)
  • Partitioning and setup of encryption (LVM optional)
  • Routine package selection and installation
  • System configuration to handle the encryption

This page covers the first two points in a general way for different configuration options available with LUKS.

The third and fourth point are covered in the later sections. Since the Arch installation media comes with all the tools required for system encryption, you can follow the Installation Guide or the Beginners' Guide after the encrypted partitions are set up. You will have to adjust the system configuration to be able to boot from your LUKS-volumes though, which is also covered in setup examples in the later sections.


  • cryptsetup FAQ - The main and foremost help resource, directly from the developers.
  • FreeOTFE - Supports unlocking LUKS encrypted volumes in Microsoft Windows.