Kernel Panic

Recovering encrypted home folders in Ubuntu

Yesterday was my first day back in the office after a 6-months stay at UCSC and some leave and obviously my computer insisted on having a number of updates installed immediately when I got it started. A distribution upgrade to Ubuntu 11.04 was available, so I decided to go with that. After the download was done, and about halfway through the installation of the updates the computer ran out of disk space… and got completely stuck. Lots of I/O errors flooding the consoles, the installation process not getting anywhere, unable to open and close programs etc. I left the computer running, but eventually it crashed completely and rebooted. Next step was kernel panic… so it was time for a reinstall.

I booted into Ubuntu 11.04 Live from a CD and got access to the machine. Next step was to get the files out of my encrypted home folder. The home folder contained two files, a .desktop file and a readme file. The desktop file did nothing but make Nautilus complain about something untrusted and the readme tells you to run ecryptf-mount-private. That resulted in an error, basically saying that the home folder is not set up correctly, but no information on what is wrong, or how to correct that. Instead your left on your own. After googeling and trying several suggested solutions I found a method to get access to the encrypted folder. All you need is your old username and login password. No need for the encryption key / mount password.

First mount the partition with your home folder somewhere, for example in /mnt:

sudo mount /dev/sdXXX /mnt

Then move the existing home folder of the live system to somewhere else:

sudo mv /home /cdhome

Now make a symbolic link from the old home folder in the mount you did and to the root of the live system:

sudo ln -s /mnt/home /home

Then create a new user with the username that matches the username you had on the system with the encrypted home folder:

sudo adduser xyzw

and go through all the questions. Finally, su into that username:

sudo su xyzw

and with a little luck, you will be asked for the login password that matches the encrypted folder. That password is the last login password you had on the system the folder came from, not the password you just made when you created the user in the previous step.

Review: The war after armageddon

The War After ArmageddonThe War After Armageddon by Ralph Peters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book on the war that follows when fanatics on all sides of a conflict spin out of control. The book’s battle scenes and depiction of warfare reminds me of Tom Clancy’s “Red Storm Rising”, but with a more thoughtful angle on the political and human realities of a war of religion, a holy war, being fought in the Middle-east between modern armies.

View all my reviews

Android Email Setup at University of Southern Denmark

Android Email Setup at University of Southern Denmark

It is possible to get limited access to Exchange server provided by the university, even when outside of the university network. Simply add

as the exchange server address. Unfortunately this will only give you access to receiving mail (and maybe seeing your calendar?) but not sending mail, accessing the email directory or adding new appointments to the calendar.

Using IMAP

Instead of using the Exchange setup, I recommend you to use the following IMAP setup. This will allow you to receive and send emails no matter your connection type and location. Add a new IMAP account and fill the account name with something appropriate. User name includes your domain e.g. tek\myusername or sdu\myusername. The IMAP server is the same as the above exchange setup: The important part here is to choose the right connection security type, which must be set to SSL and port 993.

Sending Mail

Next you setup the outgoing server. Click the login needed check box, and fill in the same user name as for the incoming IMAP server. Again, remember the domain part. The outgoing server address is Again the connection security part is important. Choose TLS and port 587.

What About the Calendar?

If there is a way to make the Exchange calendar sync with your android phone, with out being connected directly to the university’s network, I haven’t found it yet. My recommendation is to use Google Calendar instead, which works perfectly with my HTC Desire phone. If you really need to use the Exchange calendar as well, because you use on your normal computer, I would suggest using Googles Sync services. This allows you to install a client on your PC that syncs your Outlook/iCal etc. calendar with your Google Calendar.

And the Contacts?

I don’t really know what to do about your Exchange contacts. My recommendation is not to use them, instead using Google Contacts for example. If there is a good way to sync the Exchange contacts with Google Contacts, it would like to know it.