Installing Debian 8 (Jessie) with LUKS Encrypted /home and /var Partitions

This tutorial will guide you on installing latest release of Debian 8 (codename Jessie) with /home and /var LVM partitions encrypted on top of a LUKS encrypted physical volume. LUKS, an acronym for Linux...

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This tutorial will guide you on installing latest release of Debian 8 (codename Jessie) with /home and /var LVM partitions encrypted on top of a LUKS encrypted physical volume.

LUKS, an acronym for Linux Unified Key Setup, offers a standard for Linux hard disk block encryption and stores all the setup data in the partition header. If somehow, the LUKS partition header is tampered, damaged or overwritten in any way, the encrypted data that reside onto this partition is lost.

Still, one of the facilities of using LUKS encryption is that you can use a decryption key on the boot process to automatically unlock, decrypt and mount the encrypted partitions, without the need to always type a prompt passphrase at system boot (especially if you are connecting remotely through SSH).

You might ask, why only encrypt the /var and /home partitions and not the entire file system. One argument would be that /home and /var partitions contain, in most cases, sensitive data. While /home partition stores users data, the /var partition stores databases information (typically MySQL database files are located here), log files, websites data files, mail files and other, information that can be easily accessed once a third-party gains physical access to your hard drives.

Requirements

  1. Debian 8 (Jessie) ISO Image

Installing Debian 8 with LUKS Encrypted /home and /var Partitions


1. Download Debian 8 ISO image and burn it to a CD or create a bootable USB drive. Place the CD/USB in your appropriate drive, power on the machine and instruct the BIOS to boot from the CD/USB drive.

Once the system boots up the Debian installation media, choose Install from the first screen and press Enter key to move forward.

Install Debian 8

Install Debian 8

2. On the next steps, select the Language for the installation process, select your Country, configure your keyboard and wait for other additional components to load.

Select Language

Select Language

Select Location

Select Location

Configure Keyboard

Configure Keyboard

3. On the next step the installer will automatically configure your Network Card Interface in case you provide network settings through a DHCP Server.

If your network segment doesn’t use a DHCP server to automatically configure network interface, on the Hostname screen choose Go Back and manually set your interface IP Addresses.

Once done, type a descriptive Hostname for your machine and a Domain name as illustrated on the below screenshots and Continue with the installation process.

Configure Hostname

Configure Hostname

Configure Domain Name

Configure Domain Name

4. Next, type a strong password for root user and confirm it, then setup the first user account with a different password.

Set Root Password

Set Root Password

Create New User

Create New User

Set User Password

Set User Password

5. Now, setup the clock by selecting your physical nearest time zone.

Configure Time

Configure Time

6. On the next screen choose Manual Partitioning method, select the hard drive that you want to partition and choose Yes to create a new empty partition table.

Manual Partitioning

Manual Partitioning

Select Installation Disk

Select Installation Disk

Create Disk Partition

Create Disk Partition

7. Now it’s time to slice the hard drive into partitions. The first partition that will create will be the /(root) partition. Select the FREE SPACE, hit Enter key and choose Create a new partition. Use at least 8 GB as its size and as Primary partition at the Beginning of the disk.

Select Disk Partition

Select Disk Partition

Create New Partition

Create New Partition

Set Partition Size

Set Partition Size

Select Primary Partition Type

Select Primary Partition Type

Select Partition Location

Select Partition Location

8. Next, configure /(root) partition with the following settings:

  1. Use as: Ext4 journaling file system
  2. Mount Point: /
  3. Label: root
  4. Bootable flag: on

When you have finished setting up the partition choose Done setting up the partition and press Enter to continue further.

Create Root Partition

Create Root Partition

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