Accessing encrypted content from live media

Looking-for-encrypted-volumes asks: I like using Fedora as my primary operating systems or even Arch Linux on occasion. And I would like to always maintain a full encrypted hard disk on any distribution as well. The problem is that, now and then, I like to use Puppy Linux as well and so, when using Puppy Linux, I cannot figure out how to get Puppy to recognize, mount and use any kind of encrypted partition. Even beyond the point of installing all needed files in Puppy to support LVM or LUKS. I have even tried once to copy the UUID of the LUKS partition and insert it to Puppy’s fstab, but even after rebooting it still doesn’t recognize nor mount the partition then. This is frustrating because it makes me have to keep an open partition of 40 GB or 50 GB with my movies or music or documents so that Puppy finds it and I can play any file I have then.

It’s bothersome because I want these files kept in my encrypted partition on my main OS, but I can’t because of the reasons above so in essence sometimes I have two of the same files on the same hard disk just to accomplish this. And might I say that it’s not only Puppy, but this can apply to any live OS, such as Ubuntu, etc. I have noticed in Linux Mint as a live OS, if I click on the LUKS partition in the file manager, it will mount and ask for the password and then I can use it. But that’s the only OS I have seen that can accomplish this task. Do I need to do something else or do you have any ideas? So in summary, how can I encrypt my entire hard drive yet allow an encrypted disk to be mounted from a live CD when I wish?

DistroWatch answers: Off the top of my head, I would say what you are running into is a bug in the way some distributions detect (and manage) encrypted partitions. You mentioned Linux Mint (for instance) can see and access the encrypted partition, but others cannot. My recommendation would be to bring up the problem on the specific distribution forums or in the project’s bug tracker.

It also crossed my mind that the reason some distributions are not working for you here may be because what you are doing is a bit unusual. Typically partitions are encrypted to protect against someone sticking a live CD into their computer and accessing the files on the encrypted drive. It isn’t often someone uses a live CD to access their own files, especially when you have working Fedora (or Arch) systems already installed. You may have a good reason for needing both encryption on your disk and live CDs, but most people use one to thwart the other. It might make your life easier if you stuck to using locally installed operating systems to access your data, or did away with disk encryption.

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