My employer requires that all portable devices have their entire disks encrypted with SafeBoot. Windows XP on this particular machine has borked itself after a motherboard replacement (I guess it doesn't know how to react to a changed mobo serial and just load the existing installed drivers for the identical piece of hardware it had before).
So now I need to nuke WinXP and reinstall. But I need to back up the user's data beforehand. Unfortunately, part of Windows' epic bork involves not loading any network drivers and being unable to control USB hubs. Therefore, I can't back up the data to a USB drive, nor can I back it up to a flash drive. I don't have any CDs or DVDs with me to test disc burning, but I also don't think there's any disc burning software on the machine, so it will probably be a futile effort when I try tomorrow.
So I thought I would try booting to a live Ubuntu (I'm using Karmic) from a flash drive. I can boot just fine, and all hardware works just fine in Ubuntu, unlike in borked WinXP. But I can't mount the drive that contains the data I need to back up because that disk is encrypted in its entirety by SafeBoot.
gparted sees the file system on the disk as "unknown". I have tried mounting it as NTFS to no avail, and even when I give it the force option (which I know isn't really designed for this type of situation, but I thought I'd try) , I get a negative response from mount. For example:
The disk does have two partitions; one holds Windows while the other holds the Dell recovery partition. I may attempt an OS recovery using this method tomorrow, but I'm really afraid that it's an image, not an installer, and I may inadvertently lose the user's data. It's far more preferable to mount the partition and back the data up to the network or at least to a USB drive where I know the data lives somewhere off the device I'm about to format.
mount -t ntfs -o force /dev/sda2 /media/windows
NTFS signature is missing.
Failed to mount '/dev/sda2': Invalid argument
The device '/dev/sda2' doesn't seem to have a valid NTFS.
Maybe the wrong device is used? Or the whole disk instead of a
partition (e.g. /dev/sda, not /dev/sda1)? Or the other way around?
I know the problem is because SafeBoot has /dev/sda2 encrypted. It makes perfect sense. That's what SafeBoot is designed to do. I have credentials to decrypt the device (which amounts to activating a very low-level driver that dynamically decrypts data as required), so is there any way to activate that driver in Ubuntu? Can I mount that device in any way, provided I have the appropriate creds to unlock the driver?
Any help or ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.