I need to create a file-based TrueCrypt volume in a 32GB USB pendrive. If I wanted to access my files in offline computers, I'd need to include the TrueCrypt executable in the pendrive as well. I'd like to create a multiplatform disk with all the files required to access my encrypted file-based drive from Windows, Linux, and MAC.

TrueCrypt already has an option for this: Options > Traveler Disk Setup (see here). It copies the executable portable app in the (unencrypted) drive, and has an option for including autorun.info files to automate mounting. In linux and MAC versions of TrueCrypt this option is not available I think, but the app can be run in "portable mode". If this worked (never tried), I'd have to include 3 executables in my USB drive: the Windows portable version, the Linux portable version and the MAC portable version.

So my questions:

  1. Will the portable versions work as intended? The Win TrueCrypt executable certainly does, but what about the MAC and Linux versions? Will I need additional configuration in the host OS, permissions or drivers?
  2. I've heard that MAC doesn't support writing to NTFS (lmao). Otherwise this is the best filesystem for the pendrive since it is supported in both Windows and Linux. I could use the old FAT32 but it has a limit of 4 GB per file. My TrueCrypt volume needs to be way larger. So to make the drive RW-able in MAC, I've thought in including the NTFS-3G files in the USB, so that I could install them in a MAC machine should the need arise. Is this a good idea? Will I need admin permissions or make extensive configuration changes? (the MAC machine will not be mine, probably a hotel's or an internet cafe one).
  3. If #2 is not a good idea, I could partition the drive and include a Linux bootable distro only to cover the MAC case, and use the NTFS partition normally under Win and Linux. But Windows wont then recognise the second partition in a removable drive. I've read this can be overcomed by removing a "removable media bit" and converting the USB drive in a fixed drive. Is this bit stored or flashed in the USB drive, or is it part of the Windows OS configuration? Will all the partitions be recognised without problems in Linux and MAC? And most importantly, can a MAC run a linux live distro?
  4. Regarding #3, I've read about a Lexar tool (BootIt) that flips the bit, will this work with a Kingston pendrive?

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Regarding your second query, see Daniel's comment here.
    – Karan
    Jul 4 '13 at 10:55
  • @Karan Thanks for the link. I've edited the question. Jul 5 '13 at 8:06
  1. I've installed the portable versions to the USB and they work fine for all 3 OSes. I obtained the Windows version using the "traveler disk" option. For linux and MAC this option is not available, but the apps are already portable. I just had to copy the executables from /usr/bin in Linux and Applications in OSX. I've tested them on clean system where TrueCrypt wasn't installed.
  2. The filesystem I've selected is NTFS. Working fine in Windows and Linux, and working ok in OSX as long as you don't need to write (apparently mounting the volume does not require writing operations on the filesystem, so it's ok for read-only). If you need full RW support in MACs i'd recommend chosing the newer exFAT filesystem supported in both Windows and OSX. This is a Microsoft propietary filesystem for which Apple paid and it is not widely supported in Linux yet (only very recently has it been ported from Android). As I'm going to do Windows-Linux mostly I'm fine with NTFS, and I have a backup emergency pendrive formated in FAT for the OSX-RW edge case.
  3. AFAIK it is possible to partition the USB drive and install a Linux distro on one of the partitions, but only the first partition is visible in Windows, and there's the problem of booting a Linux live-CD or live-USB in MACs (these don't have a BIOS). The removeable bit has to be changed in the firmware, there's no official tool from the manufacturer, so the only way to do this is using hacking tools that can damage or disable the drive. So I thought partitioning just for the MAC use case is not worth the effort.
  4. No it does not work.
  • 1
    exfat can be rw in linux. you may also try ext4, it can be rw in windows by using ext2fsd driver Jul 11 '13 at 0:47
  • 1
    @LiuYan刘研 the exFAT support in Linux is very recent. I'm talking about a traveler disk meant to be used in public computers over the world (hotels, internet cafes, etc) where the running OS might be outdated. An Ubuntu installed a year ago for instance wouldn't have support. Also installing drivers in a Windows machine is out of the question. Jul 11 '13 at 7:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.