Software

Tomb is an Alternative to Truecrypt Tailored Especially for Linux Systems

Tomb-the-crypto-undertaker
Written by Jesse Afolabi

File encryption softwares are more of a necessity nowadays than just another luxury application on your Linux PC, given the importance of how safeguarding our most delicate documents have become and the risk of system theft and hack has grown exponentially over the years.

Truecrypt has proven itself as an extremely secure means of protecting your files offline with the varying options of military-grade encryption standards that it features. The program has, however, been discontinued for a while now but one of its last released version which is 7.1a has been proven to be secure enough for everyday usage.

But that doesn’t guarantee it to be continually functional in years to come which is why the devs behind Veracrypt took it upon themselves to continue with the development of the software but under another project and it has seen major improvements over the years to the extent where it’s now become a standalone project that has matured very well with its three years of existence now.

Veracrypt, however, is certainly not the only alternative to Truecrypt and there are a few others worth the try and Tomb is one such software that aims to replace former on your Linux system.

What does it bring to the table?

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Tomb is an entirely open source software especially meant for GNU/Linux systems and developed by Dyne. The software is quite mainstream and follows a similar concept as earlier mentioned alternatives. Encrypted “Tomb folders” (as they are so called) are protected with specific keyfiles that are further protected by a password as chosen by a user.

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Also according to Dyne’s website, “TrueCrypt makes use of statically linked libraries so that its code is hard to audit, plus is not considered free by operating system distributors because of liability reasons, see Debian, Ubuntu, Suse, Gentoo, and Fedora“.

Which is basically stating a legit reason why you may want to switch from Truecrypt (or its immediate cousin which is Veracrypt) to their software.

How it works

Tomb is  basically a shell script and it’s especially meant to be used in the Linux terminal. The minimalistic software merely requires dependencies that are mostly bundled with the majority of Linux systems by default.

Given that it’s a script (with very few GUI components) meant to be used exclusively with the terminal, it comes to us as no surprise that it also bundles an extensive manpage documentation that will help guide you with the usage of the little program.

Tomb's Manpage

Furthermore, Tomb does feature more than a few benefits that include varying use cases as well the ability to store your keyfiles in different locations including a different system, by means of steganography (hiding your gpg key in a jpg), your smartphone, on a remote server, as elaborated here.

Tomb does require root privileges and the following terminal entries (as seen on their website) shows a typical example of how you can create a “Tomb” in your Linux system.

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“To create a 100MB tomb called “secret” do:

$ tomb dig -s 100 secret.tomb
$ tomb forge secret.tomb.key
$ tomb lock secret.tomb -k secret.tomb.key

To open it, do

$ tomb open secret.tomb -k secret.tomb.key

and after you are done

$ tomb close

or if you are in a hurry

$ tomb slam all

Linux Action Show also offers an in-depth review of the software that covers its use and application if you have approx. 22mins to spare.

Installing Tomb

Tomb is pretty basic and easy to setup. Simply download the Tomb tar.gz archive here after which you’d proceed with decompression. Once done, and you’re sure you’ve satisfied the following dependencies, “cd” into the directory where you extracted the comtents on the compressed Tomb archive;

  • zsh
  • sudo
  • gnupg
  • cryptsetup
  • pinentry-curses (and/or -gtk-2, -x11, -qt)
$ cd Tomb(insert version number)
$ sudo make install

Once you’re done with the installation, you can refer to the following below on how to proceed with the program or just visit this GitHub link for more usage and installation instruction.

$ tomb -h (print a short help on the commandline)
$ man tomb (show the full usage manual)

In conclusion, you can always learn more from their official website and even have a look at Tomber which is a wrapper for Tomb.

Thanks to Nanohard for the tip.

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About the author

Jesse Afolabi

Jesse is that tech enthusiast you never heard of...he's mainly into things relating to Linux and Android and has an unending passion for both platforms which is why he writes about them.

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