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29.4. Creating Encrypted Block Devices on the Installed System After Installation

Encrypted block devices can be created and configured after installation.

29.4.1. Create the block devices

Create the block devices you want to encrypt by using parted, pvcreate, lvcreate and mdadm.

29.4.2. Optional: Fill the device with random data

Filling <device> (eg: /dev/sda3) with random data before encrypting it greatly increases the strength of the encryption. The downside is that it can take a very long time.


The commands below will destroy any existing data on the device.
  • The best way, which provides high quality random data but takes a long time (several minutes per gigabyte on most systems):
    dd if=/dev/urandom of=<device>
  • Fastest way, which provides lower quality random data:
    badblocks -c 10240 -s -w -t random -v <device>

29.4.3. Format the device as a dm-crypt/LUKS encrypted device


The command below will destroy any existing data on the device.
cryptsetup luksFormat <device>


For more information, read the cryptsetup(8) man page.
After supplying the passphrase twice the device will be formatted for use. To verify, use the following command:
cryptsetup isLuks <device> && echo Success
To see a summary of the encryption information for the device, use the following command:
cryptsetup luksDump <device>

29.4.4. Create a mapping to allow access to the device's decrypted contents

To access the device's decrypted contents, a mapping must be established using the kernel device-mapper.
It is useful to choose a meaningful name for this mapping. LUKS provides a UUID (Universally Unique Identifier) for each device. This, unlike the device name (eg: /dev/sda3), is guaranteed to remain constant as long as the LUKS header remains intact. To find a LUKS device's UUID, run the following command:
cryptsetup luksUUID <device>
An example of a reliable, informative and unique mapping name would be luks-<uuid>, where <uuid> is replaced with the device's LUKS UUID (eg: luks-50ec957a-5b5a-47ee-85e6-f8085bbc97a8). This naming convention might seem unwieldy but is it not necessary to type it often.
cryptsetup luksOpen <device> <name>
There should now be a device node, /dev/mapper/<name>, which represents the decrypted device. This block device can be read from and written to like any other unencrypted block device.
To see some information about the mapped device, use the following command:
dmsetup info <name>


For more information, read the dmsetup(8) man page.

29.4.5. Create filesystems on the mapped device, or continue to build complex storage structures using the mapped device

Use the mapped device node (/dev/mapper/<name>) as any other block device. To create an ext2 filesystem on the mapped device, use the following command:
mke2fs /dev/mapper/<name>
To mount this filesystem on /mnt/test, use the following command:


The directory /mnt/test must exist before executing this command.
mount /dev/mapper/<name> /mnt/test

29.4.6. Add the mapping information to /etc/crypttab

In order for the system to set up a mapping for the device, an entry must be present in the /etc/crypttab file. If the file doesn't exist, create it and change the owner and group to root (root:root) and change the mode to 0744. Add a line to the file with the following format:
<name>  <device>  none
The <device> field should be given in the form "UUID=<luks_uuid>", where <luks_uuid> is the LUKS uuid as given by the command cryptsetup luksUUID <device>. This ensures the correct device will be identified and used even if the device node (eg: /dev/sda5) changes.


For details on the format of the /etc/crypttab file, read the crypttab(5) man page.

29.4.7. Add an entry to /etc/fstab

Add an entry to /etc/fstab. This is only necessary if you want to establish a persistent association between the device and a mountpoint. Use the decrypted device, /dev/mapper/<name> in the /etc/fstab file.
In many cases it is desirable to list devices in /etc/fstab by UUID or by a filesystem label. The main purpose of this is to provide a constant identifier in the event that the device name (eg: /dev/sda4) changes. LUKS device names in the form of /dev/mapper/luks-<luks_uuid> are based only on the device's LUKS UUID, and are therefore guaranteed to remain constant. This fact makes them suitable for use in /etc/fstab.


For details on the format of the /etc/fstab file, read the fstab(5) man page.