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Cleanup and Clarification

Hello. This wiki page while very exhaustive in content is tangenital with a fractured flow. It seems the prefered method for straight forward system encryption in single drive systems is to use a combination of Luks and LVM2 - this solution provides for an encrypted swap that does not have any issues with hibernation or suspend. I propose making this section the first part of the wiki page to follow the justification for using Luks with the rather large volume of detailed information to follow in other sections. If there are no objections I'll go ahead and structure this in the wiki page itself. Vinhsynd 9:55, 30 September 2010 (CDT)

Hey all, I was trying to encrypt my hd using this page as a reference, but it was a bit difficult to read. As such, I'm going to try to clean things up a bit. It would be nice if there were a clean set of instructions with tips along the way for specialized setups.

On a related note... would anyone mind if some of the posts on this page were erased? There are a number of posts from 2007, 2008... --Arcanazar 13:22, 21 August 2010 (EDT)

I'm considering to do some editing and rewriting of this page, mainly in part "4 The Steps". The content would mostly stay the same, safe for some changes introduced with the newer versions of arch, where less console switching and module loading is needed. On the same subject should we drop, or move to a subsection, the parts related to versions 0.72 of arch?

Does anyone have objections to my plans, or should I just go ahead and we can revert back if it doesn't fit? WhiteMagic 12:56, 24 May 2007 (EDT)

Clean up is really needed. Please someone with enough knowledge start the job. -- Fengchao (talk) 02:55, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
This is new territory for me, but I want to implement this topic myself soon. I'll start with removing some duplicated content. T1nk3r3r (talk) 07:25, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Luks and suspend2

Would it be worth adding a section on opening encrypted drives from the kernel command line, or more specifically on combining luks and suspend2? As far as I can tell opening a swap partition from crypttab doesn't make it available in time to resume from, but adding the following to a lilo append option does:

resume2=swap:/dev/mapper/swap cryptdevice=/dev/sda2:swap

I'm not sure if this is the correct/best way of doing this, though, and didn't see other documentation.

Proposed update of the section 'Storing the key between MBR and 1st partition'


I tried to setup automatic mount of my LUKS encrypted /home using a keyfile stored between MBR and first partition header of my USB key following this wiki page and realized that it didn't work out because the howto is incomplete. I had to manually go through the encrypt hook to figure out what it does. To save other users this tiresome work that cost me hours until all finally worked out the way I wanted it I propose to update the mentioned section in the following way. Suggestions welcome. Maybe it should be noted in the parent section that /etc/crypttab conflicts with using the howto presented here.

Add the temporary keyfile we created before with cryptsetup:

cryptsetup luksAddKey /dev/hda3 secretkey

That should return you output like this:

Enter any LUKS passphrase:
key slot 0 unlocked.
Command successful.

Next you'll have to write the key directly between MBR and first partition.

WARNING: you should only follow this step if you know what you are doing - it can cause data loss and damage your partitions or MBR on the stick!

If you have a bootloader installed on your drive you have to adjust the values. E.g. GRUB needs the first 16 sectors, you would have to replace seek=4 with seek=16; otherwise you would overwrite parts of your GRUB installation. When in doubt, take a look at the first 64 sectors of your drive and decide on your own where to place your key.


dd if=/dev/usbstick of=64sectors bs=512 count=64   # gives you copy of your first 64 sectors
hexcurse 64sectors                                 # determine free space

Write your key to the disk:

dd if=secretkey of=/dev/usbstick bs=512 seek=4

If everything went fine you can now overwrite and delete your temporary secretkey:

shred --remove --zero secretkey

You should not simply use rm as the keyfile would only be unlinked from your filesystem and be left physically intact.

Now you have to add a kernel parameter in your /boot/grub/menu.lst (GRUB), it should look something like this:

kernel /vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/hda3 ro vga=791 cryptkey=/dev/usbstick:2048:2048 cryptdevice=/dev/hda4:home

Format for the cryptkey option:


OFFSET and SIZE match in this example, but this is coincidence - they can differ (and often will). An other possible example could be (if you use skip=16 in the 'dd' command above to protect the bootloader)

kernel /vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/hda3 ro vga=791 cryptkey=/dev/usbstick:8192:2048 cryptdevice=/dev/hda4:home

Format for the cryptdevice option:


The encrypted block device BLOCKDEVICE will then be mapped to /dev/mapper/MAPPING_TARGET

Note: You will _not_ need to have /etc/crypttab setup for this device then (but maybe you want to use it for other encrypted devices where you want to enter the passphrase manually or e.g. use a keyfile stored on this afterwards decrypted partition)! But don't forget to activate the encrypt hook in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf (_before_ the filesystems hook)

That's all, reboot and have fun! And look if your partitions still work after that ;-).

Decryption of root during boot with the assistance of UDEV when key is stored on USB drive between MBR and 1st Partition

The instructions in the wiki were very helpful but a bit confusing/lacking when it comes to getting Decryption via USB keyfile stored between MBR and 1st Partition.

System_Encryption_with_LUKS#Storing_the_key_between_MBR_and_1st_partition makes references to /dev/usbkey but the previous instructions aren't entirely clear on how to ensure your usb drive can always be found at this location.

When modifying your bootloader you will be unable to use /dev/disk/by-uuid because you are not referencing a filesystem. You wouldn't want to use /dev/sd[x] because this can and will change depending on what other drives and media you have connected during boot. The best bet is to create a udev rule that will exist in early userspace to alias your usb drive to an arbitrary name, in this case "usbkey". The rule must be added to the initial ramdisk so it can be read and processed to alias your drive at /dev/usbkey before root decryption is attempted via the key hidden on the drive.

System_Encryption_with_LUKS#Using_udev runs you through the initial steps you need to create a basic rule based on the USB drive's serial number. That is the very same rule I used. I named the rules file "62-usbkey.rules" and placed it in /etc/udev/rules.d/.

Now modify /etc/mkinitcpio.conf, look for the "FILES" section and add the udev rule that you created above:

# This setting is similar to BINARIES above, however, files are added
# as-is and are not parsed in any way.  This is useful for config files.
# Some users may wish to include modprobe.conf for custom module options
# like so:
#    FILES="/etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf"

Run mkinitcpio ala Mkinitcpio#Image_creation_and_activation and rebuild your ramdisk with the new udev rule you've included. You can now continue to follow the instructions in System_Encryption_with_LUKS#Storing_the_key_between_MBR_and_1st_partition to modify your bootloader and substitute references to "usbkey" to whatever you named your drive alias above.

S0ma 13:48, 16 December 2011 (EST)

Feature of Grub2 to decrypt /boot

Original comment by Chehri on 8.6.13, moved from [Dm-crypt_with_LUKS#Creating_Disk_Partitions] to here: It is now possible to include /boot on a LUKS container thanks to grub 2.00. Zack Buhman (buhman) has proposed a patch which allows this. This allows kexec to be used to start a new kernel in remote situations. It also removes any possibility of the kernel being tampered with (though grub is still unencrypted; store on a removable drive for added safety).

Interesting patch/idea. I moved the out-of-date box here to discussion first for the following reason:
The patch you link to is proposed and not even commented on, i.e. it is not in the encrypt hook. Having it there as out-of-date in this general Luks section at the beginning will confuse new readers totally. Another reason is that the Luks page in that section is general, not grub specific. Everything there can be setup with standard Arch [core], i.e. also Syslinux.
I hope you agree to that, if not let's please discuss it. Thanks.
I think the best way forward for the contribution would be to draft a subsection under 3.2 (e.g. as 3.2.7), we have different hook modifications there for the swap. (later on there is a specific section on encrypted keyfiles too where it might fit well). Once the section is complete and accurate to modify a standard Arch, one could link to it from the general section above. Once something like that goes into the vanilla Arch-encrypt hook, it should definetely be described earlier. Another (different) point would be to discuss the pros/cons security-wise of such a modification a bit. That could be done in the subsection too. --Indigo (talk) 17:35, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Encrypting a LVM setup (ex section 8)

The content in sections 8.1 to 8.4 has to be updated, particularly the AIF and /etc/rc.conf references must go. Since another user created a "Encrypted LVM" stub article, which (arguably) has style problems but is a good read otherwise, I see two alternatives for section 8:

A. (1) Remove all outdated install instructions from 8.1 to 8.4, (2) link to the "Encrypted LVM" stub article for users looking for verbose LVM/LUKS install instructions, but (3) keep the LVM short instructions in this article too as a quick reference section. Next, (4) the "Encrypted LVM" should then properly link back properly to the "LUKS" page (particularly to the explanations about the LUKS options)!

B. The second option would be to (5) move the stub article here into section 8, but this would require a major work to make it fit with the rest of the page (double content, a lot of linking up/down).

Both can be done, I prefer A, also because the LUKS page itself is rather huge already. In fact I added links over to that stub page a while back so that new users find it so noone stumbles over /arch/setup et al. Maybe you have another idea than A or B. Opinions? --Indigo (talk) 20:16, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

Yep, if you could take the time to implement A it would be a great improvement. -- Kynikos (talk) 07:42, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Glad you approve. I have done a re-work today of that; could not wait somehow. Would be good, if someone has a look over it in case I missed out on something. The editing was not that much, more trying not to loose great content which still applies. Still missing is A(4) from above (backlinking from the stub page) and removing the merge-tag in the section (ex sec 8). I also moved some sections to get connected content together (please check TOC). I hope it is not only better in my view. Anyone missing something can find the original section 8 (LUKS-LVM) pasted on my user-page for the time being. --Indigo (talk) 17:44, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
I've taken the time to check your edits (you made it a lot easier by properly commenting really everything), and I like what you've done, it's a very good job!! :)
Yes, A(4) still has to be done, while about removing the Merge template I don't know, maybe "Encrypting a LVM setup" can still be merged to Encrypted LVM, what do you think? (This would be kind of a C. alternative, opposed to B.).
-- Kynikos (talk) 13:51, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for taking the time to check it! Currently I would leave it at A as opposed to C, for two reasons: Firstly, the Encrypted LVM works/reads well with the two main setup options shown. Then it picks up different important subjects (gpt, multiple disks) but lacks some of the setup the LVM example this page has (e.g. nowhere on Encrypted LVM you find the word "swap"). So a merge would entail rework of the page in order not to loose content in the merge. Or even adding another example there (better not imho). Secondly, the other installation instructions on this page LUKS#Encrypting_a_system_partition are deliberately describing the simplest encrypted setup. So, the LVM install example here adds options which a reader might want to mix in (e.g. swap, separate /home; maybe those options are worth a mention revisiting it). I think about it again, but currently I would consider the current split easier comprehensible for both pages and outweighing the duplicity (of LVM commands). Any further LVM install tricks should of course be on the other pages, LUKS tricks here. Thoughts? --Indigo (talk) 21:06, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
All right, you convinced me, let's leave it there, thanks again ^^ (this discussion will stay open until all the remaining points are implemented) -- Kynikos (talk) 10:06, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
Okies, I added three (sublime:p) link-backs in the Encrypted LVM howto where I would consider LUKS pointers useful at the least. I will surely revisit the page, but at current A(4) is done from my view. Maybe the merge tag can go for now. Next bits of re-work here on the page may be further streamlining the starting section with better guidance through the page, but that's out-of-bounds this discussion (more the first point on this page). I also marked some old discussions here as closed. It would be nice if you or someone else could look at them sometime and rm as appropriate. Thanks. --Indigo (talk) 20:04, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Well done, you can remove the merge template and close this discussion then (don't worry, all closed discussions are removed sooner or later). If you will want to discuss more changes to this article, do not hesitate to open another thread. -- Kynikos (talk) 04:51, 27 July 2013 (UTC)