This tutorial presents a step-by-step guide on how to configure full disk encryption manually on Ubuntu 13.10 and Linux Mint 16. It will also work for any other Ubuntu-based distribution, like Linux Deepin.

The point of setting up encrypted partitions manually is so that you can create more than the two default partitions (root and swap) created by Ubiquity, Ubuntu’s graphical installation program, when the automated disk partitioning mode is used and the LVM and disk encryption options are selected. And also to be able to do that when attempting to set up a dual-boot system between, say, Ubuntu or Linux Mint and Windows 7 or Windows 8. The automated partitioning mode does allow using LVM and disk encryption when setting up a dual-boot system.

The problem is that even the manual step doesn’t work as well as it is supposed to, as you’ll see later in this tutorial.

Before we start, let’s take a look at the default partitions and logical volumes that the installer creates when LVM and disk encryption are selected. This screen shot, which was taken from a test installation of Netrunner, shows those partitions and logical volumes. You can see that the first partition – /dev/sda1, mounted at /boot, is a standard partition. The second partition – /dev/sda5, is a logical partition. It is that logical partition that the installer uses to create the LVM Physical Volume. Under that Physical Volume, the installer then created the encrypted Logical Volumes for LVM. You can see the Logical Volumes listed at the top section of the image.
Default LVM partitions Ubuntu

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For this tutorial, we are going to create a separate encrypted partition for /home. It is not absolutely necessary, but it’s always nice to have /home in a separate partition. This screen shot just shows the installation requirements for Ubuntu 13.10. You can see that the recommended disk space (for Ubuntu 13.10) is 5.9 GB. The actual disk space used by a fresh installation of this edition of Ubuntu is 3.2 GB. That should give you an idea of how much disk space to allocate to the root partition.
Ubuntu install requirements

That ends the introduction. Let’s get to the real thing. The test system used for this was a guest OS in a virtual environment, and 100 GB of disk space was allocated to it. The goal is to create manual partitions, with a standard partition mounted at /boot and three encrypted partitions, one each for root, home and Swap. Note that because of the manner the graphical installer works, LVM cannot be configured manually. So this tutorial has nothing to do with LVM, just full disk encryption. It creates a minor inconvenience that we’ll see later in this tutorial.

Ok, boot the computer from the installation media that I’m sure you have created by now and start the installer. Click until you get to the “Installation type” step. Since we want to create our partitions manually, the option to select is Something else.
Automated partition methods Ubuntu

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Selecting Something else and clicking Continue should take you to the installer’s Advanced Partitioning Tool’s window.
Ubuntu something else option

This is the Advanced Partitioning Tool’s window. On a system with existing partitions, there should a listing of those partitions here. If that’s the case with your system, delete them. If you have another OS that you wish to dual-boot with Ubuntu or Linux Mint, then make sure that you have free space sufficient for installing either distribution. Since the system I used has a brand new disk, it is first necessary to create a partition table before partitions can be created from it. To do that, select the disk as shown and click on the New Partition Table button.
Partition new hard disk drive linux

Now that a partition table has been created, select the free space and click on the + button. That should open the partition creation window.
Create new partition table ubuntu linux

And this is what that window looks like. For a standalone installation, the most important options to change here, are Size, Use as, and Mount point.
Create partitions ubuntu

For the first partition, which will be for the boot partition, I chose to use the same value for Size and “Use as” that is assigned to it by the automated installer. And the “Mount point” is, of course, /boot. OK.
Create boot partition ubuntu

Back to the main window, select the free space, then click on the + button to create the next partition.
ubuntu advanced partition tool


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17 Responses

  1. If your a Linux newbee or relative newbee or recent convert from MS windows then I have to say all this Gnome, gnome version 2, gnome 3, gnome shell, MGSE, Mate & Cinnamon stuff is excruciatingly confusing to say the least. Look I’m an intelligent person with quite a few years of IT behind me and even I have had to do extensive research & reading to finally grasp what the difference really is between MGSE and Mate for example. Its very hard and potentially off putting for Linux new people to be confronted with such complexities.

    1. The greatest asset of the free software/open source community, is there is no single controlling entity. And the greatest weakness? There is no single driving force, so you have a myriad of projects trying to do the same thing.

      This results, in many ways, to ill-conceived and weakly executed projects. Most developers seldom take non-technical users into consideration when designing their programs. They code for people just like them.

  2. Well, just like some of the other comments, I am also mystified about this whole thing. Now, me, I am not a linux master but just a user. The command line still for me is irksome, but will go there if need be.
    I use Ubuntu 11.10 on my desktop, and Linux Mint 12 on my laptop.
    Right now, I really don’t like either very much just because of the bugs but those will probably work out. MATE, Cinnamon, and Classic are okay and a big step in getting something going but I say fix what you started and not give something new. (the list at my login screens is getting way too long and a the present time I haven’t the knowledge to shorten them again)
    I need to have something that with two clicks or less, I can find, and start a program and have it rock stable, fully usable and will not crash the system.
    I struggled with the small things back in 2004 when Ubuntu was introduced to me, but I stuck with it and things got better. Changing the alert sound for new mail never worked and I couldn’t figure a way to make it work. I said surely they will fix it soon. You could pick a new sound but I couldn’t get it to play either in Evolution or TB. Late last year, I download LM12 and, wow, here is the sound. Why, did that take 7 years? I know some of you knew how and fixed in 2004 and I tried but gave up and so I just waited. But I think, if you have the option in the program you would kinda think it should work. That is all I ask.
    Now here is another question with all this going on who do you send money for thanking them for their hard work. Do I send it to Ubuntu or Linux Mint? If you send it to Linux Mint and they get the knowledge base from Ubuntu then how could that be fair.
    I like Linux and whatever distro “wins”, I will use. “Wins” is probably a poor term because the way it looks from just a user point of view, that Linux may self destruct from within just because of the different routes being taken (get so many distros that a newbie like me couldn’t make a decision on which one to use or which one is best). And after these years, I still feel like a newbie, maybe I should give up and go back to Ubuntu 10.10 where I did feel more comfortable, even if I couldn’t get the email alert sound to work.
    Thanks for listening to my frustration.

    1. @ Don

      To Play a custom sound file (wav) in Thunderbird please follow the steps given below:

      Downloaded Audacity from the Ubuntu Synaptic repositories. Open from Applications – Sound and Video – Audacity. Close the notification msg on top of Audacity workspace, click file, open and browse to load your desired soundfile. In the project rate box at the bottom my 11025 value showed up in the box.

      Open the box and select 22050. Next your file needs to be saved at this sample rate. However it seems, that although you can save directly, the only way to make the saved version useable by Thunderbird is to use the file – export function from the top menu list. Save the file in the directory of your choosing by exporting and close out Audacity.

      In the Ubuntu Top Menu, select System – Preferences – Sound – Sounds – Desktop/New Email and click on the default sound setting. Choose custom and browse to your new sound file’s directory and select your sound. When done, close out this feature and start up Thunderbird. On the top menu click edit – preferences and under the general heading in when new mail arrives, enable play a sound and use the following soundfile.

      Browse to your soundfile’s directory, select your file, close out this feature and send yourself a test email .

  3. So, you are saying this few weeks old project, with a few developers, hasn’t successfully completed their break from the fork point?
    Color me surprised!
    I FULLY expect every similar software project to be completed within a WEEK and it should only need one developer (if that!).

    Ugh, they are clearly not done with this, and there are months yet before the next Mint release. Relax. I won’t be using Mint b/c Shell is more interesting, has many more developers, is trying a genuinely new interface, but I am grateful for what Mint is trying to do. Really, I wish they’d break completely away from Ubuntu since they are sharing less and less with them.

    1. Exactly…it is only in alpa right now (and yet very stable and very nice to use)…each new version adds in more features…but it is like the foundation of a building…the building itself is in the process of being constructed….By the time Mint 13 arrives it should be very matured and feature rich…Even now it’s nicer to use then either unity OR gnome shell if you prefer a more conventional desktop…

  4. Cinnamon is an alternative to the wretched “Unity”. It needs work but is the best yet effort to create a familiar desktop on the Gnome 3 code base.

  5. I don’t understand all the drama. Good people are wasting hours tinkering with GNOME, basically trying to make it do what KDE already will do. If KDE’s too big, there are always LXDE and XFCE. I’m not a troll – just a 15-year KDE user who’s mystified by all this.

    1. I think there’s a degree of determination to force Gnome 3 to stop being such a grotesque turd of a GUI.
      Merely changing to KDE would be an admission of defeat.

      Don’t understand it myself – KDE treats me like an intelligent being capable of making my own decisions – Gnome treats me like a stupid child who needs everything done for him.

      1. Every aspect of Gnome is out of control if your looking in any way for a complete STABLE desktop, period. Gnome, Unity,Shell and Cinnamon gui are totally out of context with the real world usable desktop.

        Mint 12 has more bugs than a giant ant hill. These Gnome releases all look like beta’s and never should have been released in the first place.

        Everyone in Redmond has to be laughing at Gnome as its no better than there Vista ever was.

        I’ll stick with Fedora 16/kde or Kubuntu 11.10/kde and won’t look back.

        Gnome better wake up as it dosen’t know who their market really is.

        An old expression “Gnome looks like a jack of all trades and a master of none”

        1. Redmond may be laughing at Gnome but they haven’t heard of KDE.
          Also, it’s funny that you say gnome is a jack of all trades where that is EXACTLY what KDE purports to be. It offers tons of gui options, they just aren’t well tested and there is no integration.
          Gnome offers limited options but they are integrated and well tested, hence why you haven’t been hearing widespread cries of instability.

          1. hence why you haven’t been hearing widespread cries of instability.

            A stable turd is still a turd.

            KDE – not integrated and not tested?

  6. I use Cinnamon (not exclusively) and I agree that it’s a refreshing alternative to the horrible mess that GNOME 3 has become. I most often use MATE or XCFE, MATE for its familiarity, and XCFE for a usable, powerful desktop that, in its 4.x incarnation, didn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken.

  7. I was excited about Cinnamon until I saw that it is just as slow as gnome-shell with unaccelerated graphics. Hope it gets fixed otherwise it’s just another WM on the pile of gnome3 framework

    1. Right now, gnome-shell and Cinnamon require 3D enabled video hardware. This is a problem with Gnome’s ‘mutter’. Clement Lefebvre is forking ‘mutter’ as well and one of the goals of this particular fork is to enable 2D gnome-shell and Cinnamon capability.

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