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HOW TO: creating encrypted folders in openSuSE

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linux-howto

http://forums.opensuse.org – In one of those polishing-up activities, after you've gotten all your major stuff working on your new installation, you might want to establish some encrypted file space, to store all your personal and financial data. You could encrypt the whole system, but I like to just encrypt a folder or a small partition. Back in Windows, I used PGP, so my question was, what do I do now? A little program came to my rescue: encfs. This is the command line part, along with fuse, that together actually create an encrypted space where I can put my data. Now if you are doing this with a KDE desktop, I need only tell you to look up and install encfs, fuse, and K-encfs from the repository, using the software installation tools, and you should be good to go in the KDE gui environment. Which would mean the how-to would end here. If you are using Gnome (and other desktop environments), you could just install K-encfs, and it should just work. But, it will also install the KDE overhead (libraries) it needs to run. I wanted to keep this installation a bit "cleaner", and not start installing KDE libraries. In the Debian world, a sweet little utility named Cryptkeeper has been written, so for Debian, or Ubuntu, this operation is just as trivial as K-encfs for KDE is with openSUSE. You just make sure encfs, fuse, and Cryptkeeper are installed from the repository, and you open and use Cryptkeeper. It steps you through everything you need to do to create and use an encrypted folder, and simply gets it done. And, it has a nice little taskbar icon to let you monitor the status of your encrypted drives (mounted or not-mounted). Once you've created an encrypted folder, mounting it is as close as the click of a mouse button. But the Cryptkeeper author only uses deb installation files. Which leaves a small blank space on Gnome in openSUSE. What I did to get Cryptkeeper's gui in Gnome on openSUSE was use Alien to create an RPM. First I downloaded the Cryptkeeper deb file from the Debian repositories (you could also use the Ubuntu repositories). A link to both can be found on the Cryptkeeper home page: Tom Morton's beloved Website!. Then I installed Alien from the openSUSE repositories. Using Alien on the deb file worked without a hitch. Double-clicking the resulting Cryptkeeper rpm opened it in the software installer, and installed without any issues. And it is working. Cryptkeeper appears on my menu in the Security category. I click the menu icon, and I've got my little taskbar icon (a set of keys). Now, instead of going to a terminal session, and entering encfs yada-yada, I left-click the taskbar icon and get a mini-menu to import, create new, or open existing encrypted folders. In normal usage, after you've created an encrypted folder, you can click a checkbox here to mount it, and uncheck it when you're done to unmount. As for other desktops, I expect that the rpm created this way might work. However, I would be more confident that installing K-encfs will work for you, since the openSUSE folks have already gotten that in the repositories. You'll also get whatever KDE support infrastructure (libraries) that K-encfs relies on, but you'd get some Gnome stuff with Cryptkeeper, also. So, either way you'll get some filespace overhead. But, it is a nifty little program, works very cleanly, performing a valuable function. Possible problems: not being a member of the "fuse" group. People have, in the past, reported issues with this, and some say you need to create a fuse group and become a member for this to work. In 11.2, I have no "fuse" group, and I'm not a member of the "fuse" group. And, it works marvelously. I doubt that you will have such a problem, as my guess is this is an issue out of the past (older kernels, older versions of Cryptkeeper, etc.). If I recall correctly, I had to make myself a member of the "fuse" group in Debian Lenny (which is an older kernel, etc), after which it worked fine. (Distributions)