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Mounting Encrypted LUKS Partition from Live CD

Ubuntu 4

In this article, we will walk through the process of mounting an encrypted LUKS partition from a Live CD. This can be particularly useful in situations where you need to retrieve data from a system that cannot boot.

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to mount an encrypted LUKS partition from a Live CD. This can be done by booting into a live environment, installing the necessary packages, loading the DM-Crypt module, identifying the encrypted partition, opening it with the cryptsetup command, creating a mount point, scanning for LVM volumes (if applicable), activating the volume group, identifying the root volume, and finally, mounting the root volume to the previously created mount point.


Before we begin, ensure that you have a Live CD or USB of a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu. This will be used to boot into a live environment where you can access the encrypted partition.

Step 1: Boot Into Live Environment

Firstly, boot your system using the Live CD or USB. Once you’re in the live environment, open a terminal window. This is where we will run the necessary commands.

Step 2: Install Required Packages

We need to install lvm2 and cryptsetup packages. lvm2 is a set of tools for Logical Volume Management (LVM), and cryptsetup is used for setting up disk encryption based on the DMCrypt kernel module.

Run the following commands to update the package list and install the required packages:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install lvm2 cryptsetup

Step 3: Load the DM-Crypt Module

Next, we need to load the dm-crypt module into the kernel using the modprobe command:

sudo modprobe dm-crypt

dm-crypt is a transparent disk encryption subsystem in Linux kernel versions 2.6 and later. It is part of the device mapper infrastructure, and uses cryptographic routines from the kernel’s Crypto API.

Step 4: Identify the Encrypted Partition

We need to identify the drive containing the encrypted LUKS partition. We can do this using the fdisk command:

sudo fdisk -l

This command lists all partitions on all hard drives in the system. Look for the partition that you want to mount.

Step 5: Open the Encrypted Partition

Now, we will use the cryptsetup command to open the encrypted partition:

sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda3 myvolume

Replace /dev/sda3 with the drive identifier that you found in the previous step, and myvolume with a name of your choice. This command will prompt you for the passphrase of the encrypted volume.

Step 6: Create a Mount Point

Next, we need to create a mount point. This is the directory where we will mount the encrypted partition. Run the following command to create a new directory:

mkdir mountpoint

Step 7: Scan for LVM Volumes

If you’re using LVM with LUKS, you need to scan for LVM volumes:

sudo vgscan

This command scans all supported LVM block devices in the system for volume groups.

Step 8: Activate the Volume Group

Next, we need to activate the volume group that contains the encrypted partition:

sudo vgchange -ay system

Replace system with the name of your volume group. This command activates all logical volumes in the specified volume group.

Step 9: Identify the Root Volume

We need to identify the root volume. We can do this using the lvs command:

sudo lvs

This command lists all logical volumes in all activated volume groups.

Step 10: Mount the Root Volume

Finally, we can mount the root volume to the mount point we created earlier:

sudo mount /dev/system/root mountpoint

Replace /dev/system/root with the identifier of your root volume.


You have now successfully mounted an encrypted LUKS partition from a Live CD. You can navigate to the mount point directory and access your files. Remember to unmount the partition and close the encrypted volume when you’re done:

sudo umount mountpoint
sudo cryptsetup luksClose myvolume

This guide should provide a comprehensive overview of how to mount an encrypted LUKS partition from a Live CD. If you encounter any issues, ensure to check the output of sudo blkid to verify the filesystem type of the encrypted partition. You can then specify the correct filesystem type using the -t option when mounting.

Can I mount an encrypted LUKS partition from a Live CD if I don’t know the passphrase?

No, you need to know the passphrase in order to successfully mount the encrypted LUKS partition.

Can I mount multiple encrypted LUKS partitions from a Live CD?

Yes, you can mount multiple encrypted LUKS partitions by following the same steps for each partition. Just make sure to use different mount points and volume names for each partition.

Can I mount an encrypted LUKS partition from a Live CD on a different Linux distribution?

Yes, the process of mounting an encrypted LUKS partition from a Live CD is generally the same across different Linux distributions. However, the package names and commands may vary slightly. Make sure to use the appropriate package manager and commands for your specific distribution.

Can I mount an encrypted LUKS partition from a Live CD on a Windows system?

No, the process of mounting an encrypted LUKS partition is specific to Linux systems. Windows does not natively support LUKS encryption. However, there are third-party tools available that may allow you to access LUKS partitions on Windows.

Can I modify the files on the mounted encrypted LUKS partition?

Yes, once the encrypted LUKS partition is mounted, you can modify the files on it just like any other partition. However, keep in mind that any changes you make will be saved to the partition, so be cautious to avoid data loss.

How do I unmount the encrypted LUKS partition when I’m done?

To unmount the encrypted LUKS partition, use the umount command followed by the mount point. For example, sudo umount mountpoint. Additionally, make sure to close the encrypted volume using the cryptsetup luksClose command. For example, sudo cryptsetup luksClose myvolume.

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