A while ago I wanted to dual boot Windows 7 and Backtrack 5. I also wanted to encrypt the complete hard disk. This means configuring truecrypt to do a system encryption of Windows and using LUKS for Backtrack.

Because I have found no tutorial on how to do this, I have created this tutorial. If you have any suggestions to simplify or improve this guide please post them.


Because the partition manager that is available during the installation of Backtrack is limited in functionality we will use gparted to partition the hard disk. So start the Backtrack live CD, open a terminal and type "apt-get install gparted" to install it. Then start it be executing "gparted".

Click on Device -> Create Partition Table. The default is to create an MS DOS partition and this is what we need, so click on Apply. Now we can create the partitions. At minimum you will need the following partitions:

  • One partition that will contain Windows. During the installation we will first use this space to install an unencrypted Backtrack system. Afterwards we will install Windows on it. Hence this partition must first be formatted as an ext4 partition and in the future we will format it to NTFS for windows.
  • One ext4 partition that will contain the (unencrypted) files necessary to boot the encrypted backtrack installation. Hence a 370 MB ext4 partition will suffice.
  • Preferably, but not strictly necessary, one Linux swap partition. The ideal size depends on how much RAM you have. Since I have 4 GB ram around 800 MB swap space should suffice.
  • One ext4 partition that will contain the encrypted Backtrack installation. For this I have chosen for a 20 GB ext4 partition.

As mentioned we will first install Backtrack on the partition that will eventually contain Windows. This is done because we can't directly install Backtrack on an encrypted partition. Therefore we will first install it to an unencrypted partition and then copy all the files to the encrypted partition. Once that is done we will format the Windows partition to NTFS and install Windows on it.

Depending on the size of your hard disk and preferences you can customize the number and sizes of the partitions. Anyway, I will now detail how to create these basics partitions. First select the unallocated space and click on Partition -> New. Fill in the options as shown below (the partitions sizes may differ for you).

Create an extended partition for the remaining unallocated space. Now continue by creating the other partitions to your liking. I ended up with the following table which you can also use if you want (again, sizes may differ).

Click on Edit -> Apply All Operations to write the changes to disk. Close gparted. In the remaining of this guide I will use the device names as shown in the previous image. That is, the device names correspond to the partitions as follows:

  • /dev/sda1: Windows partition (temporarily used to first install Backtrack)
  • /dev/sda5: Unencrypted boot partition
  • /dev/sda6: Swap partition for Backtrack
  • /dev/sda7: Encrypted Backtrack partition

If you use a different partition scheme be sure the use the correct device names in the commands listed throughout this guide.

Installing Backtrack 5

Start the graphical installer of Backtrack 5 and fill in the correct information until you get to "Prepare disk space" where you must select "Specify partitions manually (advanced)".

In the next step click on /dev/sda1 and then on "Change" and select it to be an ext4 partition that mounts to /. Do not change the partition size!

Now do the same for /dev/sda5, so set it to ext4 but this time mount /boot. I have ended up with the following configuration:

When clicking on "Forward" it might tell you that some file systems are not marked for formatting but the files on it will nevertheless be deleted. Simply click on continue and proceed with the installation.

Once the installation has finished you can restart your computer to ensure everything is properly installed.

Downgrading to GRUB

At the time of writing this guide GRUB 2 is unable to chainload the truecrypt bootloader (at least to my knowledge and without annoying workarounds). For this reason we will downgrade to GRUB (grub legacy) which will be able to handle everything perfectly and offers the same functionality.

Start the Backtrack system you have just installed and open a terminal. To remove GRUB 2 execute "apt-get purge grub-pc". If it asks to remove all GRUB 2 files from /boot/grub select yes. Then execute "rm /boot/grub/core.img" to get rid of the remaining GRUB 2 files. Your computer won't be bootable until we install the old version of grub.

Install grub by executing "apt-get install grub". Configure grub to load during boot by executing "grub-install /dev/sda". Finally configure the grub boot menu by executing "update-grub". It should say "could not find /boot/grub/menu.lst ...". Enter yes to create the menu. Reboot the system to verify it boots properly.

Note: The grub menu will now display "Ubuntu 10.04.2 LTS" instead of Backtrack 5. At the end of this guide we will clean up this menu entry.

Encrypting Backtrack

Encrypted Partition

From your backtrack installation open a terminal. To be sure we have all the packages we need execute the command "apt-get install cryptsetup hashalot initramfs-tools". For Backtrack 5 only hashalot will be installed, as cryptsetup and initramfs-tools are already included in the default installation.

We have to create an initial ramdisk (initrd/initram) that contains all the necessary tools to boot a basic linux environment that will ask for your password and is able to decrypt the encrypted Backtrack partition during boot. An initial RAM disk is an initial root file system that is mounted prior to when the real root file system is available (which is in our case encrypted). We will create it using initramfs-tools.

To specify that the partition needs to be decrypted during boot execute the following single command:

echo "CRYPTOPTS=target=cryptroot,source=/dev/sda7" > /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/cryptroot
This will create the file /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/cryptroot with the given line as its content. Now run the following commands to create an encrypted partition:

modprobe dm_crypt
modprobe sha256_generic
luksformat -t etx4 /dev/sda7
For the last command be sure to type an uppercase YES. Otherwise it will give the cryptic error message "Cloud not create LUKS device /dev/sda7 at /usr/sbin/luksformat line 63, <MOUNTS> line 15". If you get the error message "Device luksformat1 is busy" after the format has completed, execute "cryptsetup luksClose /dev/mapper/luksformat1". We now mount the newly created encrypted partition and copy our Backtrack installation to to. For this execute the following commands:

cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda7 cryptoroot
mkdir /mnt/target
mount /dev/mapper/cryptoroot /mnt/target
cp -avx / /mnt/target
Copying can take a while. Once completed open /mnt/target/etc/fstab and find the section that refers to the partition where the unencrypted Backtrack system was installed. It can be recognized by the line above it which contains "# / was on /dev/sdaX during installation". The line under it will look something like this:

UUID=00adfd86-26d7-445c-8d4a-e72b16400423 / ext3 errors=remount-ro 0 1
We need to change the UUID of it to the UUID of the encrypted partition. To get the UUID execute "blkid | grep /dev/mapper/cryptoroot". Once you know the UUID update the line with the new UUID.

Testing with GRUB

Before we continue we will add a temporarily entry to GRUB to verify we can boot the encrypted Backtrack system. To do this edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and under the line "### END DEBIAN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS LIST" add the following lines:

Title Cryptotest
root (hd0,4)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.38 root=UUID=<uuid> ro
initrd /initrd.img-2.6.38
Here (hd0,4) stands for the boot partition. You can get the correct kernel version by looking at the lines between the DEBIAN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS entries. Replace <uuid> with the UUID of the encrypted partitions, which can be found by executing "blkid | grep /dev/mapper/cryptoroot".

Reboot the system and press ESC to enter the GRUB menu during boot. Select cryptotest from the menu. If something goes wrong restart and choose Ubuntu in the grub menu and try to figure out what when wrong. If you followed this guide everything should work.

Guide continues in the next post!