Configure the Linux Kernel

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Because LUKS relies on dm-crypt, a feature provided by the Linux kernel, the encrypted system’s kernel must be configured with dm-crypt support enabled. In addition, to allow the LUKS partition to be unlocked during boot, an initramfs with the cryptsetup program needs to be created.

Enable Required Kernel Configuration Options

If a distribution kernel package is being used with the default kernel configuration it ships, then this step can be skipped because the required options are all enabled in the default configuration.

Gentoo Wiki gives a list of kernel configurations that need to be enabled for dm-crypt support. Note that if the --hash sha512 option is used in the commands run previously, then the cryptographic API functions for SHA512 need to be enabled.

[*] Cryptographic API --->
    <*> SHA384 and SHA512 digest algorithms

Because the root file system is encrypted as part of the full disk encryption configuration, the options that enable initramfs support are required. However, the options for enabling tcrypt support are optional.

Enabling these options as built-ins (<*>, y) instead of modules (<M>, m) is recommended because they will always be in use when the system on the LUKS partition is running.

Next, build and install the kernel with the updated configuration to let it take effect.

Install Tools for initramfs

Because dracut will be used to build the initramfs, please first ensure it is installed:

# emerge --ask --noreplace sys-kernel/dracut

Then, before building the initramfs, any other user-space programs required to mount the file system on the LUKS partition also need to be installed, so they can be embedded in the initramfs. Depending on the file system used on the LUKS partition, the package that should be installed varies. Gentoo Handbook contains a list of packages for common file systems, which can be referenced to determine the correct package.


  • Btrfs:
    # emerge --ask --noreplace sys-fs/btrfs-progs
  • LVM:
    # emerge --ask --noreplace sys-fs/lvm2

Update initramfs

Now that everything pertaining to initramfs for the LUKS configuration is ready, make a new initramfs with the cryptsetup program and the key file for automatic unlock from systemd:

# dracut --force "" "$(cat /usr/src/linux/include/config/kernel.release)"