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Warning old bootloaders not support ext4 encrypt

January 01, 2023 — BarryK

EasyOS uses the ext4 encrypt feature for folder encryption. At first bootup of a new installation of EasyOS, the 'init' script in the 'initrd' will see if the encrypt feature is not enabled and will offer to enable it.

The problem arises if you are booting with an old version of GRUB. GRUB v1 and GRUB4DOS will no longer recognize the partition as having an ext4 partition, if the encrypt feature is enabled.

I was surprised that GRUB v2 did not recognize the encrypt feature until mid-2017, after version 2.02 was released. The next official release was 2.04, in 2019, though possibly some distributions may have applied patches to 2.02 including recognize the ext4 encrypt feature.

This is the GRUB patch for ext4 encrypt, committed 2017-06-29:

I see that Debian Stretch has GRUB 2.02, Buster has 2.06.

This is potentially bad news for someone who has done a frugal install of EasyOS, possibly into a ext4 filesystem that already has a mainstream Linux distro installed, such as Debian or Ubuntu, and has created an entry for EasyOS in the GRUB menu...

At first bootup, Easy will ask to enable ext4 encrypt, you accept, then at next bootup GRUB is broken, won't recognize that partition at all.

So, I have put in a warning, see commit:


If you have booted from one of those old bootloaders, you would have to decline encryption, which means no folder encryption and no password required at bootup.     

Tags: easy