Rootfs over encrypted lvm

Revision as of 21:45, 9 December 2013 by Duncan.Britton (Talk)

This howto describes how to setup LVM and rootfs with cryptoLUKS-encrypted drive

Prepare the hard drive and partitions

This is an example partition scheme, you may want to choose differently. /dev/sda1 used as /boot. /dev/sda2 will be encrypted drive with LVM.

  • /dev/sda1 -- /boot partition.
  • /dev/sda2 -- BIOS boot partition (not needed for MBR - only needed if you are using GPT) This step required for GRUB2. For more info, see: [1] for more information on GPT and MBR.
  • /dev/sda3 -- / partition, will be the drive with LUKS and LVM.
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda3 bs=100M 
# dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda3 bs=100M

The dd part is optional, and the command only needs to be run for security reasons (i.e only if you had top secret files on your drive). The command overwrites the lingering data on the device with random data. It takes around 6 hours to complete for a 200GB drive.

Note that you will get a message about reaching the end of the device when the dd command has finished. This behavior is intended.

Encrypting the drive

# cryptsetup --cipher aes-xts-plain64 luksFormat /dev/sda3
# cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda3 dmcrypt_root

There you'll be prompted to enter your password phrase for encrypted drive, type your paranoid password there.

Create logical volumes

# pvcreate /dev/mapper/dmcrypt_root
# vgcreate vg /dev/mapper/dmcrypt_root
# lvcreate -L10G --name root vg           
# lvcreate -L2G --name swap vg
# lvcreate -L5G --name portage vg
# lvcreate -l 100%FREE -nhome vg

Feel free to specify your desired size by altering the numbers after the -L flag. For example, to make your portage dataset 20GB's, use the flag -L20G instead of -L5G.

Create a filesystem on volumes

# mkfs.ext2 /dev/sda1
# mkswap /dev/mapper/vg-swap
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/vg-root
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/vg-portage
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/vg-home

Basic system setup

# swapon /dev/mapper/vg-swap
# mkdir /mnt/funtoo
# mount /dev/mapper/vg-root /mnt/funtoo
# mkdir -p /mnt/funtoo/{boot,usr/portage,home}
# mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/funtoo/boot
# mount /dev/mapper/vg-portage /mnt/funtoo/usr/portage
# mount /dev/mapper/vg-home /mnt/funtoo/home

Now perform all the steps required for basic system install, please follow [2] don't forget to emerge the following:

  • cryptsetup
  • lvm2
  • grub
  • kernel sources (gentoo-sources recommended)

Editing the fstab

Fire up your favorite text editor to edit /etc/fstab. You want to put the following in the file:

# <fs>                  <mountpoint>  <type>    <opts>                          <dump/pass>
/dev/sda1               /boot         ext2      noauto,noatime                  1 2
/dev/mapper/vg-swap     none          swap      sw                              0 0
/dev/mapper/vg-root     /             ext4      noatime,nodiratime,defaults     0 1
/dev/sr0                /mnt/cdrom    auto      noauto,ro                       0 0
/dev/mapper/vg-portage  /usr/portage  ext4      noatime,nodiratime              0 0
/dev/mapper/vg-home     /home         ext4      noatime,nodiratime              0 0

Kernel options



Important, do not miss this part.

Initramfs setup and configuration

Build your initramfs with better-initramfs project.



better-initramfs supports neither dynamic modules nor udev, so you should compile your kernel with built-in support for your block devices.
# git clone git://
# cd better-initramfs
# less README.rst
# bootstrap/bootstrap-all
# make prepare
# make image

Copy resulting initramfs.cpio.gz to /boot:

# cp output/initramfs.cpio.gz /boot

Alternatively pre-compiled binary initramfs available at

# wget
# tar xf release-x86_64-v0.5.tar.bz2
# cd release*
# gzip initramfs.cpio
# cp initramfs.cpio.gz /boot

Remember, better-initramfs project is a work in progress, so you need to update from time to time. It can be done easily with git. Go to the better-initramfs source dir and follow:

# git pull
# less ChangeLog

Please, read the ChangeLog carefuly and do necessary updates, to /etc/boot.conf, the example config below. Please, backup working initramfs.cpio.gz and /etc/boot.conf before updating initramfs.

Genkernel approach

Funtoo's genkernel capable to create initramfs for encrypted drive. Compile and install kernel and initramfs of your favorite kernel sources:

genkernel --kernel-config=/path/to/your/custom-kernel-config --no-mrproper --makeopts=-j5 --install --lvm --luks all

Configure the bootloader as described above, with correct kernel and initramfs images names. An example for genkernel and grub2:


Grub2 configuration

An example of /etc/boot.conf for better-initramfs Template:Code

Lilo configuration

For oldschool geeks, an example for lilo bootloader. Emerge lilo with device-mapper support

# echo 'sys-boot/lilo device-mapper' >> /etc/portage/package.use/lilo
# emerge lilo


Syslinux bootloader setup

Syslinux is another advanced bootloader which you can find on all live CD's.

# emerge syslinux
# mkdir /boot/extlinux
# extlinux --install /boot/extlinux
# dd bs=440 conv=notrunc count=1 if=/usr/share/syslinux/mbr.bin of=/dev/sda
- or -
# sgdisk /dev/sda --attributes=1:set:2
# dd bs=440 conv=notrunc count=1 if=/usr/share/syslinux/gptmbr.bin of=/dev/sda, for GPT partition


Final steps

Umount everything, close encrypted drive and reboot

umount /mnt/funtoo/proc (/dev, /home, /usr/portage, /boot) 
vgchange -a n
cryptsetup luksClose /dev/sda2 dmcrypt_root

After reboot you will get the following:

>>> better-initramfs started. Kernel version 2.6.35-gentoo-r10
>>> Create all the symlinks to /bin/busybox.
>>> Initiating /dev/dir
>>> Getting LVM volumes up (if any)
Reding all physical volumes. This make take awhile...
No volume group found
No volume group found
>>> Opening encrypted partition and mapping to /dev/mapper/dmcrypt_root
Enter passphrase fore /dev/sda2:

Type your password

>>> Again, getting LVM volumes up (if any, after map dmcrypt).
  Reading all physical volumes.  This may take a while...
  Found volume group "vg" using metadata type lvm2
  4 logical volume(s) in volume group "vg" now active
>>> Mounting rootfs to /newroot
>>> Umounting /sys and /proc.
>>> Switching root to /newroot and executing /sbin/init.
INIT: version 2.88 booting
Loading /libexec/rc/console/keymap
  OpenRC 0.6.1 is starting up Funtoo Linux (x86_64)
...boot messages omitted for clarity
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Last login: Thu Oct 14 20:49:21 EEST 2010 on tty1
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