The Fully Encrypted Laptop

Since a laptop is often used mobile and so there is the possibility that it may get into wrong hands, I want to at least protect my private data like email, office documents etc. from unauthorized access. So I decided it would be best to encrypt the whole harddrive. This page describes how i set my Laptop up fully encrypted.


The steps described here are given to you without any warranty. It worked like this for me, but thats all. If you follow this instructions you alone are responsible for anything that happens. I can't be held responsible for any damages that may be caused by using this instructions. If something goes wrong its possible to loose all your data or worse! So make sure you have a backup of anyting important!

This HowTo was written for people who have some understanding of Gentoo, Windows and computers in general. It's not meant to be a step by step guide for the totally inexperienced!


My goals for the setup:

  • Dual Boot gentoo and Windows XP
  • Both systems should be encrypted
  • an encrypted data partition shared between the two systems
  • one password on bootup should open system + data for access


I used the following tools for achieving this:

  • TrueCrypt for Windows and the data-partition
  • dm-crypt/cryptsetup + LVM2 for gentoo

Partition Setup

My Partitions are set up like this:

  1. Boot partition, 100MB, ext2
  2. Windows XP, 25GB, NTFS
  3. Gentoo encrypted lvm2, 25GB, not formated (will be done later)
  4. Data Partition, rest of the HDD, not formated (will be done later)

All partitions are primary partitions. Set this up with your favourite partitioning tool.

Installing & Encrypting Windows XP

Since Windows does overwrite the MBR we will install it first. I wont go into any detail, you should be able to figure out how to do this. After successfully installing Windows its now time for the encryption. For this purpose we use TrueCrypt. At first get it from their download page. Get the installer for Vista/XP/2000 (version 6.0a at the time of this writing) and install it on your system. The encryption procedure is described in the Truecrypt documentation. In the wizard select to only encrypt your windows partition. Also select that Windows is in your MBR. For the rest follow the instructions of the Wizard or take a look at Truecrypts documentation. During the process you will have to burn a rescue-cd, so its a good idea to have blank CD-R(W) aviable. After the process has completed during bootup there should be the TrueCrypt bootloader asking for the password. Thats it for Windows, so lets get Gentoo running.

Installing & Encrypting Gentoo

At first we need a LiveCD that has support for dm-crypt and LVM2. One that has the necessary support is GRML. Now its time to prepare gentoos partition. At first we will do the encryption: I assume your harddrive is found by the livecd as /dev/sda and partitions are setup like described above, if that is not the case adjust the following instructions according to your situation:

NOTE: all following commands have to be run as root!

Encrypting the Partition

encrypting the partition:

cryptsetup luksFormat /dev/sda3

This will ask you to type YES (all uppercase) and then lets you enter the password you want to use.

After encrypting the disc we have to unlock it for use:

cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda3 decrypted

this should ask for the password and give “key slot 0 unlocked” if successfull. The partition is now usable with the virtual device /dev/mapper/decrypted

Initializing LVM

Now we will initialize the LVM on top of the encrypted disk. First lets create the pysical volume and the Volume Group:

pvcreate /dev/mapper/decrypted
vgcreate gentoo /dev/mapper/decrypted

After this we have a working LVM Volume Group with the name “gentoo”.

Now lets create some Logical Volumes (these are like partitions, but on top of LVM):

lvcreate -n system -L 15G gentoo
lvcreate -n swap -L 2G gentoo
lvcreate -n home -L 8G gentoo

This will create one LV with 15GB for the system, one with 2GB for swapspace and one with 8GB for /home. Feel free to adjust this to your liking, but keep in mind that you will also have to adjust some of the following steps.

Formating the LVs

Now its time to create some Filesystems:

mkfs.ext2 -L "boot" /dev/sda1
mkfs.ext3 -O dir_index -L "system" /dev/gentoo/system
mkfs.ext3 -O dir_index -L "home" /dev/gentoo/home
mkswap -L swap /dev/gentoo/swap

As always you can use other filesystems if you like..

Mounting the LVs

Now lets mount the LVs for installing gentoo:

mkdir -p /mnt/gentoo
mount /dev/gentoo/system /mnt/gentoo
mkdir -p /mnt/gentoo/{home,boot}
mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/gentoo/boot
mount /dev/gentoo/home /mnt/gentoo/home
Install Gentoo

After this you can follow the official gentoo handbook starting from chapter 5. In the following I will show where the procedure differs from the official handbook.

Kernel Configuration

In addition to the things written in the handbook and the correct drivers for your hardware make sure you select the following things in the Kernel-Configuration (build them into the kernel, not as modules):

Device Drivers -->
  [*] Multiple devices driver support (RAID and LVM) -->
    <*> Device Mapper Support
    <*>   Crypt Target Support
Cryptographic options  --->
  --- Cryptographic API
  <*>   SHA256 digest algorithm
  <*>   LRW support
  <*>   XTS support
  <*>   Blowfish cipher algorithm
  <*>   Twofish cipher algorithm
  <*>   Serpent cipher algorithm
  <*>   AES cipher algorithms
fstab configuration

In the fstab we will have to use our LVs for system, swap and home, it should look similar to this (if you used my LV Setup):

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.

# <fs>                  <mountpoint>    <type>          <opts>          <dump/pass>

/dev/sda1               /boot           ext2            noauto,noatime  1 2
/dev/gentoo/system      /               ext3            noatime         0 0
/dev/gentoo/home        /home           ext3            noatime         0 0

/dev/gentoo/swap        none            swap            sw              0 0

/dev/cdrom              /mnt/cdrom      auto            noauto,users    0 0

shm                     /dev/shm        tmpfs           nodev,nosuid,noexec     0 0
Installing Necessary System Tools

Since we will use genkernel to create our initrd, we will have to emerge it (This is independent from how you created your Kernel, I always do Kernel-Configuration manually):

emerge genkernel

Of course we will also need cryptsetup and lvm2 tools, so we will merge these too, along with truecrypt and ntfs-3g for the data-partition that we will add later:

emerge cryptsetup lvm2 truecrypt ntfs3g
Configuring the Bootloader

We will use grub as our bootloader, so lets see how to set it up:

At first we will have to save the truecrypt-MBR into a file so we can reuse it from Grub:

dd if=/dev/sda of=/boot/truecrypt.mbr count=1 bs=512

Now we will create the initrd necessary for gentoo:

genkernel --kernel-config=/usr/src/linux/.config --luks --lvm ramdisk

Next merge Grub and edit /boot/grub/menu.lst to look similar to this:

default 0
timeout 5

title Gentoo Linux
root (hd0,0)
kernel (hd0,0)/linux-2.6.25-tuxonice-r4 root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc ramdisk=8192 crypt_root=/dev/sda3 real_root=/dev/gentoo/system dolvm quiet
initrd (hd0,0)/initramfs-genkernel-x86_64-2.6.25-tuxonice-r4

title Windows  XP
rootnoverify (hd0,1)
chainloader (hd0,0)/truecrypt.mbr

NOTE: The names for kernel and initrd may be different depending on your kernel-version and system architecture. Of course you can add things like grub-splash or framebuffer setup, but I will keep it as simple as possible for the HowTo

Finally lets install grub into the MBR:

grub> root (hd0,0)
grub> setup (hd0)
grub> quit

After you have done this you may add a normal user like described in the gentoo handbook. Then its time to reboot the system:

umount /mnt/gentoo/dev
umount /mnt/gentoo/proc
umount /mnt/gentoo/home
umount /mnt/gentoo/boot
umount /mnt/gentoo/
vgchange -an
cryptsetup luksClose decrypted

Now you should have a grub menu at boot where you can choose between Gentoo and Windows XP. After selecting one it should ask for the systems password and then boot the system. As the last step lets see how to get a encrypted data-partition shared between the two systems

Setup an Encrypted Data Partition

For the data partition we will use truecrypt again. I did set it up under Windows, using a key-file without password (because we want the data-partition to be auto-mounted) to encrypt the 4th partition of the harddrive (remember the partition layout from earlier). Since the system-partition is encrypted for Windows and Linux it should be no problem to have a key-file without password. If you want extra security you can of course use passwords, but then auto-mount will not work. For the filesystem I use NTFS, since it is writeable form Windows and Linux (using ntfs-3g) and doesnt have the limitations FAT32 has (4GB filesize limit and so on).

For automount in Windows set the keyfile in the default keyfiles and enable auto-mounting of device-hostet volumes and of course to start truecrypt with windows.

For gentoo you need to transfer the keyfile, maybe using a USB-Stick or similar (but remember to delete the key in a secure way (like overwriting it several times with random data). If you haven't done so before we need to emerge truecrypt, and make sure to use the same version as on Windows. Then we will need to start the truecrypt-mounting at boot. A good way to do this is to add the following line to /etc/conf.d/local:

truecrypt -t -p "" --protect-hidden="no" -k /usr/share/data.key /dev/sda4 /mnt/data/

This assumes you have a mountpoint /mnt/data and used my partition layout. Also the keyfile needs to be in /usr/share/data.key

With this you should now have a data partition usable from windows and linux.



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linux/encryptedsystem.txt · Last modified: 28.09.2010 16:14 by Seiichiro
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