I have an external drive with a LUKS-encrypted partition. As the device is an external USB device and I don't always need it, I only want to decrypt and automount on demand. I can easily automount the fileystem on the decrypted partition with x-systemd.automount in /etc/fstab. However, I cannot decrypt the partition on demand. I've tried two different approaches:

  1. I added the line

    mnt-usb-crypt UUID=<UUID> /path/to/keyfile luks

    to /etc/crypttab. However, now the partition is always decrypted, even if I don't specify a mountpoint in /etc/fstab.

  2. I changed /etc/crypttab and added the noauto option:

    mnt-usb-crypt UUID=<UUID> /path/to/keyfile luks,noauto

    Now, there is no systemd device at all, the expected dev-mapper-mnt-usb.device does not exist.

According to the manpage of crypttab, there is no option like x-systemd.automount for crypt devices.

Is there a possibility to configure systemd to decrypt the device only if it is accessed?

  • this is related to this question, but I want a systemd solution.
    – morxa
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 17:13
  • Nice first question. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the answer is "no, that's not possible". A keyfile, noauto and a convenient alias (or similar) is probably about as close as you can get. You might however be able to configure the system to automount the file system when the LUKS device is opened -- that should be possible through udev. Not really what you are asking for, but it does remove at least one of the steps.
    – user
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


Option 2 in the question actually works, but you have to use the same names for the crypt device in both /etc/crypttab and /etc/fstab.

/etc/crypttab looks as follows:

# <name>        <device>            <password>      <options>
mnt-usb-crypt   UUID=<device-uuid>  /path/to/key    luks,noauto

/etc/fstab looks as follows:

# <file system>             <dir>       <type>  <options>                             <dump>    <pass>
/dev/mapper/mnt-usb-crypt   /mnt/usb    btrfs   defaults,noauto,x-systemd.automount   0         2

Note that if you use the UUID of the decrypted filesystem instead of the path /dev/mapper/mnt-usb-crypt, then systemd cannot determine the device it has to decrypt. But if you use the device name as above, the device is automatically decrypted and mounted as expected.

A different solution would be to explicitly specify a requirement for the systemd crypt device.

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