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I'm basically looking for an equivalent to OS X's encrypted sparsebundles. The solution should have support for file ACLs and should not force me to specify a size in the beginning (the image should only take up as much space as it needs) or require root access to mount and unmount. Ideally, I should be able to set two different passwords (both for the same data), but that's not too important.

(I do have root access to the machine and so can install packages and such, but I would rather not have to sudo just to mount an image.)

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I wouldn't use it for operating system directories (like /usr, /var) but for casual encrypted data storage, try EncFS. It's a fuse filesystem so it workd under a few different operating systems and does not require root to mount. It stores the underlying data in a designated directory in a regular filesystem (if you look at the contents of that directory the file names and contents appear to be gibberish) and only consumes as much space as the contents consume. It is apt-get installable in Debian.

If you want to encrypt something like your whole root filesystem then you should probably consider a solution based on an encrypted block device like LUKS, even though it's not a good fit for your requirements (the size has to be chosen ahead of time and it requires root to mount).

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eCryptfs is another encrypting overlay filesystem, but does not rely on FUSE. It works fine in Debian. – ephemient Aug 29 '12 at 6:17
@ephemient thanks for the suggestion. I have no experience with eCryptfs, but the OP may want to give it a try. – Celada Aug 29 '12 at 9:27
I've tried encfs; it doesn't support ACLs. – Blacklight Shining Aug 29 '12 at 23:53

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