# Encryption


This guide will mostly care for UEFI systems. Steps shouldn't be much different for non-UEFI systems. Have a look at the arch wiki regarding system encryption (opens new window) for more information.


This guide uses X, Y and Z as placeholders. Adjust them accordingly to your setup. Additionally, "sd" could be different depending on the used connection method of your drive.

In this guide, the encryption configuration we want to achieve is this:

                |   Swap   |   Other partitions   |
                |          |   e.g. / or /home    |
|   Grub boot   |   Encrypted container (LUKS)    |

At first, we have a /boot partition that contains the Grub bootloader as well as the necessary files for UEFI. Then we have an encrypted container that uses LUKS that contains the swap and other partitions, like the root partition or /home. All your data as well as the system will be encrypted as a result of that.

This results in you having to type in a password directly after booting, which will unlock the encrypted LUKS container and then boot the system normally.

# Partitioning

To get a brief overview of the disks, use the command

fdisk -l

After you got the disk to use, run

gdisk /dev/sdX

to partition the disk accordingly. For more information on how to use gdisk, see the arch wiki (opens new window). For completeness, the most used commands are:

Command What does this do?
o New partition table
n Create new partition
w Write table to disk

After partitioning, you want to have a layout that looks like this:

Partition Usage Size Partition code Partition type
/dev/sdXY Grub boot Depends, 300M are recommended ef00 EFI System
/dev/sdXZ LUKS container Remaining 8E00 Linux Filesystem

# The crypt container

# Create crypt container

Now we create a crypt container on sdXZ using LUKS. For more information, see these two pages on the arch wiki regarding dm-crypt:

Encrypt dev/sdXZ. You will be prompted for a password. Care for different keyboard layouts when typing in the password!

cryptsetup luksFormat -c aes-xts-plain64 -s 512 /dev/sdXZ

Now open the encrypted container and map it to the device cryptroot. You will be prompted for the encryption password.

cryptsetup open /dev/sdXZ cryptroot

# Creating LVM within the LUKS container

We currently have an (open and) encrypted container, but no LVM inside. To do this, we first have to create a volume group. We will call it main:

vgcreate main /dev/mapper/cryptroot

Now we create the partitions we need. Since we just want a swap partition and a root partition, we need these two commands. If you want additional partitions, e.g. for a separate home partition, adjust the following commands (in the other sections, too) according to your needs. For recommendations regarding the swap size, see the partitioning section of this guide.

lvcreate -L 32G main -n swap
lvcreate -l 100%FREE main -n root

# Create the filesystems

Now we format the newly created volumes and partitions. The UEFI partition needs to be of type fat32. Additionally, this will get you a ext4 root partition. You can adjust this freely if you like.

mkfs.fat -F 32 /dev/sdXY
mkswap /dev/mapper/main-swap
mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/main-root

# Mounting the system

Mount the system

mount /dev/mapper/main-root /mnt
mkdir /mnt/boot
mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot

Additionally, enable the swap

swapon /dev/mapper/main-swap

When following the guide for a normal installation, you can go back to the base installation page now.

# Adjust linux kernel hooks

Edit the file /etc/mkinitcpio.conf to contain the following line

HOOKS=(base udev autodetect modconf block filesystems keyboard keymap encrypt lvm2 fsck)

After that, run the command to create the initial ramdisk environment

mkinitcpio -P

# Install grub

Before installing grub, we have to mount the efi variables and install important packages

mount -t efivarfs efivarfs /sys/firmware/efi/efivars
pacman -S grub efibootmgr dosfstools

Additionally, install the microcode packages for your cpu, e.g. intel-ucode or amd-ucode.

Now find the UUID of the boot partition (in the line starting with /dev/sdXY) and note it down

blkid | grep "UUID="

Adjust /etc/default/grub because of the encryption. Replace <UUID> with the UUID of the device you found earlier.

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="cryptdevice=UUID=<UUID>:main root=/dev/mapper/main-root"


If you want to type the password with the keyboard layout of your home country, you can adjust the line like this with the languages of your choice. This example uses the german keyboard layout.

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="cryptdevice=UUID=<UUID>:main root=/dev/mapper/main-root lang=de locale=de_DE.UTF-8"

After that, you can install grub. Use the following commands to do that. Make sure no errors are reported here.

grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/boot --bootloader-id=arch_grub --recheck --debug
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

When following the guide for a normal installation, you can go back to the configure system page now.

# Additional resources

For more information, you can visit the following pages:

This guide tries to sum them all up in one neat page.