I'd like the idea of having one encrypted folder on Ubuntu One. There are current howtos in the Internet how to set it up with EncFS or ecryptfs. I'd like to use ecryptfs - not because of speed as speed doesn't really matter that much if you're storing your data in the cloud - but as I've been already using ecryptfs, got used to it and therefore don't really like to use another solution as well.

The Problem with the Ubuntu One folder is, that it's part of the user's home folder. With recent Ubuntu versions in many cases the user's home folder gets already encrypted with ecryptfs and you can't use ecryptfs (for a Ubuntu One folder) on top of ecryptfs (of the user's home directory).

So what could one do? Of course use EncFS instead. Or move the Ubuntu One folder out of the user's home folder.

Any other ideas or suggestions?


As already stated ecryptfs is not a solution for my problem as my home folder is already encrypted by ecryptfs. Moving the "Ubuntu One" folder out of the home tree isn't a solution either as then the rest of the "Ubuntu One" content isn't encrypted anymore.

I've decided to use EncFS instead. Setting up en encrypted folder is pretty simple. But how to get it mounted automatically so applications can use it to store config files? There are some solutions:

  1. pam_mount
  2. gnome-encfs
  3. autofs
  4. afuse

I don't like idea 1 because I don't want to use the same password for EncFS as my login password.

Solution 2 I don't like on one hand because there's no apt package available for Ubuntu and on the other hand I don't want to have the EncFS folder only mounted just after logging in. If something fails or it the folder gets unmounted every subsequent access will fail.

Solution 3 just doesn't work. I've been using autofs for quite some time to mount CIFS shares and folders through sshfs but EncFS is just not supported. I've played around with several scripts to mount EncFS by autofs but that became too complex and error-prone.

So what I'm currently using is solution 4. Afuse is available as an apt package. Afuse automatically mounts the EncFS folder as soon the folder is accessed and unmounts it again after some idle time.

Here are the quick steps how to set everything up (maybe I add some details in future):

  • install afuse
  • create the "Ubuntu One" folder to store the encrypted content


~/Ubuntu\ One/.encrypted

  • create a folder as a top folder for afuse to mount folders within



  • create some helper scripts
  • create an autostart entry in Gnome to launch afuse

The unencrypted EncFS folder gets mounted underneath ~/.fuse. In my case the folder with the unencrypted content is named U1Enc, therefore all data stays in ~/.fuse/U1Enc. For my convenience I created a link from ~/U1Enc to ~/.fuse/U1Enc to get there easier.

The ideas and helper scripts I found on several web sites. Here come the links:

Automounting FUSE filesystems
autofs: encfs over sshfs

I use the following scripts:


U1Enc  encfs --ondemand --idle=5 --extpass="/home/xxx/.creds/U1.encfs.sh" /home/xxx/Ubuntu\ One/.encrypted %m

~/.creds/U1.encfs.sh (marked as executable and only accessable by the user themself)


~/bin/afuse-handler.pl (marked as executable and with ~/bin in $PATH)

#!/usr/bin/perl -w


print "afusedir:$afusedir\n";
print "afuse_mountpoint:$afuse_mountpoint\n";

system("logger -t afuse 1:$ARGV[0] 2:$ARGV[1]");

open(FSTAB, $fstab ) or die("Can not open afuse-fstab at $fstab\n");
while( <FSTAB> ) {
        if( /^$afusedir/ ) {
                $cmd = $_;
                print "$cmd\n";
                system($_) == 0
                        or die "execution of FUSE filesystem failed!\n"
                             . "command:$cmd\n"
                             . "reason:$?\n";

and finally ~/bin/afuse.start.sh (marked again as executable) which I registered with Gnome/System/Settings to start afuse after log in

afuse -o mount_template="/home/xxx/bin/afuse-handler.pl %r %m" -o unmount_template="fusermount -u -z %m" ~/.fuse

The last script launches afuse which starts the afuse-handler to mount the EncFS folder underneath ~/.fuse as soon it gets accessed. The afuse.handler itself checks the .afuse-fstab how to mount the folder. The EncFS password is echoed out by U1.encfs.sh so no user intervention is needed (as this file is stored in my home folder it get's encrypted by ecryptfs so I don't see there a big security issue).

Take care of different EncFS versions. On Natty currently EncFS version 1.7.4 gets installed. That doesn't play well with an older 1.6 version on Maverick. I had to update EncFS on Maverick to 1.7.4 as well (done this by pinning apt/preferences).


A possible way to do it, is to use two different directories:

~/my_secret_data would not be synced, but would encrypt all files added to it and then move the encrypted files from ~/my_secret_data/folder to ~/Ubuntu One/folder. If you've added your GPG key to all your computers, then you would be able to automatically open encrypted files, but others wouldn't.

It's not very elegant, I think, but it should work.

  • That's what I'm doing with EncFS. The encrypted data is stored in ~/Ubuntu\ One/.encrypted and the unencrypted in ~/.fuse/U1Enc. I just use EncFS instead of GPG for user convenience - the data get encrypted/decrypted on thy fly. – spi Sep 2 '11 at 16:48

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