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Deployment of Wine

The project is to build a Linux Mint machine to have the identical functionality and ergonomics as the existing Windows 10 machine.
Having established that there is no way to migrate fully from Windows to Linux, the project now needs to consider running Windows apps in Linux.This is a big change to the strategy of the project.This is a big change to the deployment of a Linux workstation, a crushing admission of failure, and the opening of a whole new world of risks to an otherwise secure operating system. Environment & required functionalityFor this blog post, Wine was tested on: The Linux Mint Xfce 19 virtual machine "Bilbo", on host Windows 10 laptop "Saruman"The Linux Mint Xfce 18.3 virtual machine "Gimli", on host Windows 10 host "Legolas".
Alternatives There are alternatives to Wine/PlayOnLinux, notably the paid software Crossover. Software selection Wine and PlayOnLinux are present in Linux Mint by default.  If uninstalled following advice fr…

An attempt at full-disk encryption: Vera Crypt



This stage relates to testing full-disk encryption using VeraCrypt.

Environment & required functionality

Full-disk encryption needs to run on the following machines:
  • The Linux Mint Xfce 18.3 laptop "Gandalf";
  • The Windows 10 laptop "Legolas".

The objective requirement is to protect user data from the physical theft of the physical machine, to provide an additional line of defence against data loss.

This is probably more important for Windows than for Linux Mint.  Even so, in both cases, the operating system is likely to log activity which can reveal personal data and user (meta)data.

Full-disk encryption does not mitigate against Microsoft’s sinister telemetry functionality, for which the main solutions seem to be:
  • Either to use tools whose developers are constantly on the prowl, hunting for the latest ways in which Microsoft seeks to breach users’ privacy;
  • Or to use Linux Mint instead of Microsoft Windows.

Alternatives

For Windows, there is no viable free alternative than VeraCrypt.  The next available alternative was to run BitLocker, for which Windows 10 would need an upgrade to Windows 10 Professional at a cost of GBP 110.

For Linux Mint, the users’ file space $HOME can be encrypted using encryptfs as part of Mint’s normal operation.  The only time this is possible in the graphical user interface appears to be when creating the user’s account, although there must be some way of changing the encryption status by command line.  In addition, Mint 17 had a process using LVM and cryptsetup, by which a single partition on a hard disk could be encrypted, resulting in the same outcome as using VeraCrypt for full-disk encryption.

A longer list of encryption tools for Linux appears on https://www.tecmint.com/file-and-disk-encryption-tools-for-linux/, of which VeraCrypt is one suggestion.

Software selection

For this experiment, VeraCrypt was the sole selection, because it works on both Windows and Linux.

Installation experience

On Legolas/Windows, VeraCrypt worked exactly as instructed by the HowToGeek.  Legolas is an HP machine, so Windows Updates always overwrites the bootloader to an incorrect "Windows knows best" script.  VeraCrypt’s developer published a utility VcFixBootthat restores the correct bootloader for VeraCrypt to work.  It is a bit freaky to see a laptop declare that it is going to repair Windows: this is what happens when Windows Updates uncorrects the bootloader, then tries to boot Windows from an encrypted partition that it cannot decrypt.

On Gandalf/Linux, VeraCrypt installed normally, but demands root privileges to mount the encrypted file as a partition.  This isn’t permissible for a non-admin user.  But it’s clearly possible, because google-drive-ocamlfuse permits a non-admin user to mount a virtual device.  So it looks like VeraCrypt’s design is flawed, such that its demands the best be the enemy of the good.  In reality, the local admin must have the exclusive right to install software, but must not have universal access rights to all data on the machine.  There is one workaround, which grants all non-admin users on the machine root privileges.  This is a bad workaround.

Conclusion

VeraCrypt failed to work on Gandalf/Linux.

VeraCrypt worked as described on Legolas/Windows.

End of post.

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