Backtrack 4

Hey folks.

I just completed a pretty massive update of the Backtrack 4 Full Disk Encryption How-to.


  • Increased the boot partition to 200MB just to make it an even number :).
  • Removed all references to Backtrack Final.
  • No longer creating a swap partition.
  • Changed the root partition to mount as ext2 instead of ext3.
  • Changed the way we configure the encrypted filesystem for booting.

Removing the swap partition and changing the root partition to mount as ext2 are to increase performance a bit and to reduce unnecessary writes to the drive to extend its life.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments, particularly if you notice any issue, typos or errors with the document.



I made a small update to the Backtrack 4 - Bootable USB Thumb Drive with "Full" Disk Encryption how-to.

Some people are having issues with the xts.ko module not getting copied to the initrd image. This makes the the root and swap partitions unmountable because the encrypted partition can't be opened. Most have been able to correct this by redoing the install, but I wondered if maybe a consistent modules file would help, i.e. don't require the user to edit the file.

To that end, I have modified the how-to. I created a preconfigured modules file like I did for the two pvcrypt scripts and added the wget command to download it.  I also added what the contents of that file should look like.

Both the on-line how-to and the pdf have been updated.

Note: The video does not show this step. It still shows the manual method.



This is just a quick note to introduce the video I made using my Backtrack 4 - Bootable USB Thumb Drive with "Full" Disk Encryption how-to. You can find the video here.

As always, comments, corrections, and suggestions for improvement are welcome.


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The Backtrack 4 Final release happened today.

Both the Backtrack 4 USB/Persistent Changes/Nessus how-to and the Backtrack 4 with "Full" Disk Encryption how-to have been updated to reflect this release.



I made some minor updates to to my Backtrack 4 – Bootable USB Thumb Drive with “Full” Disk Encryption.

I fixed a few typos and added a section towards the end that shows how to mount your encrypted volume from the Live CD/USB drive in the event you have issues and need to fix things.

I also added a bit that should get rid of the 'can't find modules.dep' warning that appears at boot time.


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I have published my latest Backtrack 4 how-to.

Backtrack 4 - Bootable USB Thumb Drive with "Full" Disk Encryption

This is a step-by-step guide showing how to create a encrypted bootable Backtrack 4 USB thumb drive. I put quotes around full in the title because technically the whole disk isn't encrypted.

We use LVM and the native encryption routines included in Ubuntu 8.10 to encrypt all partitions except for a small boot partition that never contains any data.

This how-to is a departure from the persistent install method I have documented in the past. It also means we don't have to mess with Truecrypt or do the home directory shennanigins we were going through. I will be incorporating it into the main how-to in the near future.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts and feedback.



My Backtrack 4 – USB/Persistent Changes/Nessus How-To has been updated again. Changes below

  1. Updated Nessus install procedures for version 4.2.0.
  2. Moved the 'apt-get upgrade' section to before the Truecrypt volume creation section. We now have enough updates that the initial update runs out of disk space before completing if the Truecrypt volume was created first.

The updated version is here.

The pdf has also been updated and can be found here.

I have, however, also kept the previous version available and it can be found here.

As usual, let me know if you find any issues or problems.



Backtrack 4 USB Thumb Drive PDF

by kriggins on August 23, 2009

in Announcement

I thought some might like to have a PDF of the how-to that could be used off-line.

Therefore, I made one.

The link is here (PDF). It is also linked to at the top of the how-to page itself.



Hi folks.

The Backtrack 4 USB Drive How-to has undergone a huge re-write. One of the largest changes is that we are no longer using UNetBootin except for one minor thing and then only if you want to. Everything is done from within Backtrack itself now.

Another change is that I have added instructions on setting up encryption with Truecrypt directly into the how-to. Finally, I have added some interesting tweaks such as mounting the Truecrypt volume on boot, changing root's home directory to the encrypted volume on the fly and setting nessus up to log to the encrypted directory.

It still lives in the same place.

If you were using the old how-to and don't want to start over, it is living here now. The parts of the new how-to on encryption and tweaks will still work with the old how-to if you just want to add that bit.

As always, let me know of any problems, typos, mistakes, etc. of which I am sure there are plenty. 🙂



I participated in the Nebraska CERT Conference this week and gave a talk on Building the Perfect Backtrack 4USB Thumb Drive. Below is the slide deck from my talk.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions.