How to encrypt Ubuntu Desktop

In an age where privacy is loosing more and more of importance in our society and less and less people fighting for their right of privacy it becomes very important to help your self to generate privacy and a good start is going to be an encrypted Operating System installation. You are lucky if your Operating of choice is Ubuntu or one of their other flavors. Ubuntu provides the ability to encrypt your Ubuntu installation right when you install it.

I am going to demonstrate it in a Virtual Machine with Ubuntu Desktop 16.04 LTS and take screen-shots along the way.

Insert your installation CD/DVD.

Boot Splash Screen
Boot Splash Screen

After the boot process is done from CD/DVD you will be greeted with the installation Wizard.

Installation Welcome Screen
Installation Welcome Screen

Click on the “Install Ubuntu” button to start the installation process.

Prepare to install Ubuntu
Prepare to install Ubuntu

I recommend to check both options if you computer is connected to the Internet. Click “Continue”.

Installation Type & Encryption
Installation Type & Encryption

Check the option “Encrypt the new Ubuntu installation for security” and the other option “Use LVM with new Ubuntu installation” will be checked automatically. Click “Install Now

Choose a security key
Choose a security key

This is the most important step during our encryption set up for our new Ubuntu installation. It is imperative that you use a long and strong password. Here are some guidelines for good passwords:

  1. Your password should be at least 8 digits long.
  2. Use upper and lower case letters
  3. Incorporate numbers
  4. Incorporate Symbols

Here are some examples:

D0gH0us3!

H0m3T0wn$

0p3nS3s@m3

If you like to enhance your security further you can check the option “Overwrite empty disk space!Note the remark that the installation with this option enabled will taker much longer than usual!  Click on “Install Now

Write changes to Disks
Write changes to Disks

Click on “Continue” to confirm that you indeed want to apply those changes.

Choose Timezone
Choose Timezone

Pick your Timezone by clicking into the world map and then click “Continue

Choose keyboard layout
Choose keyboard layout

Select your keyboard layout and proceed.

Who are you
Who are you

Enter your name, computer name and password. Here again choose a long and strong password. If you like to be a little bit further secured select “Require my password to log in” and “Encrypt my home folder”. In this step during our installation the system will encrypt your home folder with a strong random password and your log in password will be used as a Pass-phrase to decrypt it. Move on.

Installation progress
Installation progress

The system will be configured and installed with your encryption and passwords. This process take longer than usual because of the additional encryption so be patient.

Installation done
Installation done

Click on “Restart Now” to reboot into your new installation.

First Boot with Password
First Boot with Password

As the new installed system boots up you will be asked to enter your password to unlock your disk. Enter your password and press “Enter” to proceed.

Password successfull
Password successful

If everything went okay you will receive the message displayed in the above screen-shot.

Ubuntu Login screen
Ubuntu Login screen

Enter your login password.

Record your encryption passphrase
Record your encryption passphrase

As mentioned earlier your system will be using a randomly generated password to encrypt your home folder and your login password is the pass-phrase to decrypt it. Click on “Run this action now” to ensure proper function and you should also make a note of it and place it in a secure place.

Enter Passphrase
Enter Passphrase

Enter Pass-Phrase

Display encryption key
Display encryption key

Here is your encryption key.

Command to display encryption key
Command to display encryption key

You can also run the following command from the Terminal to retrieve your encryption key later on. Enter the command displayed in the screen-shot above.

Display the encryption key
Display the encryption key

As you can see they match. Your installation is done.

Enjoy using your secured installation.

Namaste!