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Thread: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

  1. #1
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    Question How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    I installed Karmic on a computer and chose the option to encrypt the home folder.

    All works fine.

    The installation gave me 32-character unlock code in case I should need to recover the folder manually.

    I want to test this, in case I should ever need to recover it.

    So, how do I use that 32-character unlock code? I haven't managed to find the relevant documentation.
    Full system encryption with dual-bootFull Circle MagazineProblems with WINE?
    In my day, we had the outdoors in which to run, play, and socialise. Now people use computers for that.

  2. #2
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    Re: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    Dude, be careful, consider this case, I've Ubuntu 9.04, I installed from an alternate CD, I chose to encrypt the home folder. Then I reformated my PC. Setup was: formatted / and it's a separate partition, didn't format /home partition, but also a separate partition, finally, /swap is a separate partition. After installing Karmic, with these partitions / /home /swap, I can't login to my /home partition, you know why? Because it's encrypted.

    It preserved its configurations because I didn't reformat my /home. I've looked around almost 1 whole day, and reading about this problem, the experts say there's no work around for this yet. Here's the thread: http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...tition-765465/

    But if you know any better or anyone out there thinks I'm wrong, you can start posting and help me clear this confusion out. Can't recover my /home files because of this. I suggest you backup now, don't use encryption yet, just keep a Wild Pitbull-Terrier w/ rabies to guard physical access to your pc.
    It's OK, everything we know will become obsolete at some time.

  3. #3
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    Re: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    Thanks for the warning! It seems terribly complicated.

    I'll keep the folder encrypted (in case of theft), but at the same time I'll keep full backups.

    That should cover both bases.

    But, then, going back to my first point, what is the point of the 32-character unlock code? It's supposed to be in case the password is lost; but then surely that would allow reinstallation?
    Full system encryption with dual-bootFull Circle MagazineProblems with WINE?
    In my day, we had the outdoors in which to run, play, and socialise. Now people use computers for that.

  4. #4
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    Re: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    Now I am scared, I don't have the 32-character unlock code. Do you know of anyway to recover it?
    Last edited by molder; November 12th, 2009 at 02:15 PM.

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    Re: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    Quote Originally Posted by molder View Post
    No I am scared I don't have the 32-character unlock code. Do you know of anyway to recover it?
    There is no way to unlock if you don't know the passphrase, otherwise it defies the whole purpose of encryption in first place!
    You came empty handed, that is how you shall leave. Whatever you claim as yours today, belonged to someone else yesterday, will be someone else's tomorrow.

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    Re: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    Quote Originally Posted by molder View Post
    Now I am scared, I don't have the 32-character unlock code. Do you know of anyway to recover it?
    No. When I installed Karmic with the encrypted folder, it told me to make a note of it then. As far as I know, there's no recovery mechanism.

    Make a full backup! (That should go without saying.)

    Quote Originally Posted by ukripper View Post
    There is no way to unlock if you don't know the passphrase, otherwise it defies the whole purpose of encryption in first place!
    The 32-character unlock code is there in case you forget your password. As I understand it (and I may be wrong), the system generates a key to encrypt and decrypt, and your password unlocks that key. The 32-character unlock code is that key.

    Obviously, you would need to keep your unlock code physically separate from your computer, preferably in a different building!
    Full system encryption with dual-bootFull Circle MagazineProblems with WINE?
    In my day, we had the outdoors in which to run, play, and socialise. Now people use computers for that.

  7. #7
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    Re: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    Quote Originally Posted by Paddy Landau View Post
    Thanks for the warning! It seems terribly complicated.

    I'll keep the folder encrypted (in case of theft), but at the same time I'll keep full backups.

    That should cover both bases.

    But, then, going back to my first point, what is the point of the 32-character unlock code? It's supposed to be in case the password is lost; but then surely that would allow reinstallation?
    I just cant understand why do so many people want to encrypt the whole home folder.

    I have 1-2 2GB encrypted files, which can be mounted at any time I want to. eg. any time I need to access them. I keep all my "sensitive" data in them.

    The advantages:
    If I need borrow my laptop to a friend for a couple of hours, I can do that. What about you? the machine wont work, if you don't "unlock" it, and if you do, your friend will have access to all your sensitive data also..hmm..

    No problems of not beeing able to boot the machine, if you forgot the password, and no need to enter any password when booting the machine for a quick internet serf..

    etc..
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    Re: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    Quote Originally Posted by anaconda View Post
    I just cant understand why do so many people want to encrypt the whole home folder.
    Where do you keep your emails? All your documents? What about your conversations on Skype? Are they all encrypted?

    For a normal home user, it's probably of no great consequence.

    But for a professional who deals with many clients' sensitive and confidential issues through email, Skype and MSN, and who stores many details in various documents, it is of great consequence should the computer be stolen.
    Full system encryption with dual-bootFull Circle MagazineProblems with WINE?
    In my day, we had the outdoors in which to run, play, and socialise. Now people use computers for that.

  9. #9
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    Re: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    Quote Originally Posted by Paddy Landau View Post
    But, then, going back to my first point, what is the point of the 32-character unlock code? It's supposed to be in case the password is lost; but then surely that would allow reinstallation?
    Yes, I agree! But what I can't understand. When I reformatted / of Ubuntu 9.04, but not the home folder, isn't the installation of Karmic suppose to ask me,

    "Hey, what's the password for that encrypted home folder you setup in Jaunty so you can use your home folder again in Karmic? I'm only doing this in case you stole this computer and reformatted the system to access the HOME FOLDER."

    BUT HELL NO. It will leave you dead cold with a mouse floating on a blank screen after logging in to your machine. If you swith to another terminal, and ls your /home - it only has 2 files, README.txt Access-Your-Private-Files.Desktop, which both don't contain anything.

    So in this blog: http://bodhizazen.net/Tutorials/Ecryptfs/ -it's clearly stated:

    "...there are as of yet no automated tools on the installation CD (alternate or desktop) to automatically preserve and configure your Ecryptfs encrypted /home directories.

    I advise you back up your data, install, then restore your data."

    Hope to help.

    PS This blog: http://blog.dustinkirkland.com/2009/...home-from.html said, you can use LIVECD to get access to your /home folder, but still, this doesn't work for some people, including me. Good Luck!
    It's OK, everything we know will become obsolete at some time.

  10. #10
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    Re: How to unlock (recover) an encrypted home folder

    Well, I seem to have found, finally, the answer to the question. I haven't had a chance to test it yet, but it is nicely documented.

    Thanks to Dustin Kirkland... Mosey over to Linux Magazine's Ubuntu's Encrypted Home Directory and read through. There are three pages; the third page holds the treasure.
    Full system encryption with dual-bootFull Circle MagazineProblems with WINE?
    In my day, we had the outdoors in which to run, play, and socialise. Now people use computers for that.

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