Disk encryption (Aalto-Linux)

All Aalto Linux laptops are equipped with disk encryption that supports full-disk encryption.


Deploying of disk encryption requires performing a complete re-install on the computer.

If you make a re-install on a computer that is already in use, remember to transfer the files on the computer to a safe location because the entire disk will be erased during the installation.

1. If you want to install a computer, please contact the administrator or the IT service desk.

2. The computer will require the setting of a password after the installation and when the computer is powered up for the first time. Think of a good password because your selection will be a permanent one, in practice.

Linux encryption 1

3. Enter the password twice and memorize it. Beware of using any uncommon special characters in your password. Ubuntu contains a long-standing and well-known bug that can change the keyboard layout between the time when the password is set and when it is prompted.

Linux encryption 2
Linux encryption 3

4. Once the password has been set successfully, it must be entered one more time to open the disk.

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Linux encryption 5

5. From here on, the computer will start in the usual manner.


Every time the computer is powered up, it will prompt for a disk encryption password before the start-up process continues.

Processing of keys (special cases)

Under normal circumstances, there is no need to touch the disk encryption passwords (keys).

You may need the instructions below in the following cases, for example:

  • your project requires that there may not be a centralized (computer-specific) backup key
  • it is necessary to add more keys for a laptop in shared use, for instance.

There can be a maximum of seven keys. Processing the keys requires root privileges.

Viewing the LUKS header

For example, with the command

cryptsetup luksDump /dev/sda5

it is displayed like this

LUKS header information for /dev/sda5

Version:        1

Cipher name:    aes

Cipher mode:    xts-plain64

Hash spec:      sha1

Payload offset: 4096

MK bits:        512

MK digest:      2d 20 db f4 d6 17 c3 5f eb f9 c9 eb 10 47 9d 1d 55 7e d8 4a

MK salt:        7e 0b 22 20 38 fa 76 0e 65 36 93 b7 9e cf b4 c0

                ed 38 f7 e4 77 97 06 75 43 ce 87 a4 a9 a1 7d 72

MK iterations:  46500

UUID:           21bf98d4-27e3-409d-ad12-1c0b156b992e

Key Slot 0: ENABLED

        Iterations:             189069

        Salt:                   cc 6f 1b 78 b4 53 7f a6 6a 0b cb cb 93 17 1f 87

                                0d 84 31 58 b8 35 b1 9d e1 b2 d6 84 91 d2 ee c0

        Key material offset:    8

        AF stripes:             4000

Key Slot 1: ENABLED

        Iterations:             237476

        Salt:                   41 68 0d 7d d4 e4 6f e6 f5 2a 3e 9d 30 75 96 27

                                69 0c 12 c8 f1 fc d3 11 5b 61 eb c9 c6 7a 9a 02

        Key material offset:    512

        AF stripes:             4000

Key Slot 2: DISABLED

Key Slot 3: DISABLED

Key Slot 4: DISABLED

Key Slot 5: DISABLED

Key Slot 6: DISABLED

Key Slot 7: DISABLED

Deleting a key

Below,<n> is slot number... the centralized spare key is in slot 1.

Below, <device> in Aalto-Linux is usually /dev/sda5, but it can be something else in exceptional cases.

cryptsetup luksKillSlot <device> <n>

Adding a key

cryptsetup luksAddKey <device>

Changing a key

cryptsetup luksChangeKey <device>

releted instructions

Information security at Aalto University

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