Encrypted /boot/ on LUKSv2 now possible in Libreboot GRUB (PHC argon2 imported)

Leah Rowe

20 August 2023

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Article published by: Leah Rowe

Date of publication: 20 August 2023


The GRUB payload has supported LUKSv2 for a long time, but only with the old-school PBKDF2 key derivation method; most Linux dm-crypt setups on LUKSv2 use argon2-based key derivation, which GRUB did not support. This mean either: use LUKSv2 with PBKDF2 (less secure), or LUKSv1 (ditto), in GRUB.

Today, Libreboot now supports argon2 key derivation in its version of GRUB, which is offered as a coreboot payload within the Libreboot build system, and in Libreboot releases.

Libreboot’s argon2 patches are based on this AUR repository which patched GRUB 2.06, and the patches were rebased for use with GRUB 2.12 which Libreboot uses; the rebase was performed by Nicholas Johnson. Nicholas emailed me to tell me that this had been done, and I then merged Nicholas’s work into Libreboot. Thank you, Nicholas! Thanks also go to Axel who is the author of the original work that Nicholas imported from Archlinux AUR.

Why does this matter?

Libreboot previously documented how to boot distros from encrypted /boot, which is a boon for security because it’s harder to compromise a machine that has encrypted /boot (containing the linux kernel) than if it were unencrypted like on most LUKS setups. In addition to this, you may consider GRUB hardening steps such as GPG signature checking of your installed Linux kernel.

These patches import the PHC argon2 implementation into Libreboot’s version of GRUB:

Argon2 is the newer key derivation preferred on modern LUKSv2 setups. It is strongly recommended that you upgrade to argon2id, specifically, for your setup.

How to get it

This is unavailable in the Libreboot 20230625 release, but will be available in the next Libreboot release.

UPDATE (21 October 2023): This is available in Libreboot 20231021, and releases after that. Alternatively, you may still compile a ROM image yourself from the Libreboot build system. See:

How to build Libreboot ROM images from source

Further reading

PHC argon2 implementation

This is the reference argon2 implementation, now used by Libreboot, and the upstream project for that is hosted here:


Article by Matthew Garrett

PSA: upgrade your LUKS key derivation function by Matthew Garrett, talks further about the importance of secure key derivation (specifically argon2id) on encrypted Linux setups.

Always use encryption!

Markdown file for this page: https://libreboot.org/news/argon2.md

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