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TrueCrypt on Linux (Ubuntu) February 6, 2011

Posted by Nigel Ajay Kumar (NAyK) in Open Source, Ubuntu.

I’m in a security phase… encrypting everything. Working with Windows, TrueCrypt is an excellent solution. However I wanted to see how encryption would work on my Linux distro Ubuntu 10.10.

Downloading TrueCrypt was easy… if you know what to select. I selected standard 32bit.

Installation was a little more tricky. As I wasn’t sure what to do. I double clicked the icon but wasn’t quite sure what to do next to install.I first clicked run, but it didn’t work. Then I clicked “run in terminal” and that seemed to work.

I couldn’t find much help in the beginning (until later after figuring it out I found these excellent sites:


After installation, I wanted to create a TrueCrypt volume. When it asked which file format did I want to encrypt the new partition, I choose EXT4. However, when the formatting finished (and it is much faster to format in Linux than in Windows), I found that TrueCrypt was just not opening. It was giving me a file error saying the partition could not be mounted.

I decided to redo the process and this time choose to create a new TrueCrypt partition as an FAT drive. Again it was quite fast, and this time it worked.

I quickly mounted my drive and put in all the files I wanted to encrypt.

However, I realised that if I closed the TrueCrypt window, I was not able to unmount the partition, because it asked for root privileges. Updated later (after some comments suggested I clarify): There is an icon called truecrypt1 (mounted). And that gives the option to unmount. When I clicked to unmount, it didn’t do it. That was what I was noticing. Similarly, in the Nautilus browser, there was an eject option on the drive. But when I clicked it, it didn’t allow me to unmount with the following error: umount: /media/truecrypt1 is not in the fstab (and you are not root)

Of course there was a TrueCrypt icon in the notification bar. If I clicked that, the TrueCrypt window opened up and I was able to quickly unmount as I have been able to do in Windows. (Back to original post)

As a result, I have had to keep the Window open whenever I use the TrueCrypt programme, which is a pain, but not insurmountable.

I also preferred the windows Drive Letter way of mounting a partition. Somehow the number method felt more… alienating. It’s the same in a Mac (in which I also installed TrueCrypt). Doesn’t feel as inviting, but it does work.

But all in all, TrueCrypt, by itself, is an excellent encryption software. It’s linux version (and the Mac version) doesn’t seem to be as polished as the Windows version (which is surprising, because TrueCrypt is open-source), still it’s handy to use. So far I haven’t found any major glitches, so it is an excellent tool for security enthusiasts.

Another excellent help site: http://linuxandfriends.com/2010/02/03/how-to-truecrypt-setup-on-ubuntu-linux/



1. Tedstar - February 6, 2011

I’ve found absolutely no difference between TrueCrypt on Linux and Windows in terms of ease of use or functionality.

Also, please do realize that Linux doesn’t have drive letters. I’m not sure how numbers are more alienating, anyway.

2. NAyK - February 6, 2011

To Tedstar: Ya ok. I don’t want in any way to disparage TrueCrypt or Linux. Just found drive letters easier to work with. A personal preference conditioned by years of Windows experience.

I like drive letters because if there is a C drive, D drive, then the following drives can also have letters.

In Linux, while there is no drive letter, I still mount my Windows drives using the C and D conventions, and so, I preferred the drive letter method.

However, more importantly, I think the issues of being unable to mount, and the difficulties of mounting an EXT4 are of more concern to me than the drive letter.

But even that could be because I’m not sure how to handle the programme just yet.

thanks for your comment.

3. dave - February 6, 2011

“However, I realised that if I closed the TrueCrypt window, I was not able to unmount the partition, because it asked for root privileges. From the TrueCrypt programme window I was easily able to unmount (dismount, I think).”
When you close the truecrypt window it doesn’t actually close if a drive is mounted, but minimises to the top taskbar on the right near the volume icon.

4. NAyK - February 6, 2011

To Dave: Actually I didn’t notice the TrueCrypt icon. That makes it faster to unmount. Thanks.

However, there is another icon called truecrypt1 (mounted). And that gives the option to unmount. When I click to unmount, it doesn’t do it. That was what I was noticing.

Similar in the Nautilus browser, there is an eject option on the drive. But when I click it, it doesn’t allow me to unmount with the following error: umount: /media/truecrypt1 is not in the fstab (and you are not root)

(I will be integrating these comments into the post so that I am clearer about the issues I faced).

5. Michele - April 11, 2011

Personally I think drive letter was very confusing and alienating. I found very more useful and simple the unix-like mount method.

6. Mackeeper - April 14, 2011

A progressive solution that will incorporate diverse solutions for Apple computer and fix all those unpleasant problems which usually impact your calculating performance is currently on Twitter.

7. amorlibre - January 25, 2012

The problem is that truecrypt in linux asks for root priveledges to mount the volume, then will not unount without root priveledges. There needs to be a workaround, so it is as easy to unmount as a pendrive. getting asked both the truecrypt passphrase AND the root password is unreasonable.

8. steph - November 29, 2012

@armorlibre, that’s true. Probably can be fixed by setting the default mount point in some place other than /media/, like in the home folder.
I have found several things lacking in the linux version. For example the ability to use an existing file container and create a hidden volume inside it. There’s a “direct mode” in windows but here it is not found. Also I tried the hidden file wizard from scratch but the sucker doesn’t even ask me what filesystem I want, and after the creation of the outer file (still not knowing what filesystem it did create), I tried copying files but it went unreasonably slow so I cancelled.
I guess I’ll try the windows version… the port to linux wasn’t done with much care

9. Mike L - June 10, 2013

Truecrypt is not open source.

Its source is available for download, but that is hardly the same thing as open source. Truecrypt is released in a way that makes it legally problematic to create derivative works and implement changes and improvements. Furthermore, Truecrypt cannot be distributed with any gnu/linux distribution without liability.

Open source software is released with a license that allows all of these things, which is why people are willing to donate their time and effort.

NAyK - June 20, 2013

Thanks, Good to know.

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