Man page of tomb
Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: May 25, 2013
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Tomb - the Crypto Undertaker
- tomb [options] command [arguments]
Tomb is an application to manage the creation and access of encrypted
storage files: it can be operated from commandline and it can
integrate with a user's graphical desktop.
Tomb generates encrypted storage files to be opened and closed using
their associated keys, which are also protected with a password chosen
by the user. To create, open and close tombs a user will need super
user rights to execute the tomb commandline utility.
A tomb is like a locked folder that can be safely transported and
hidden in a filesystem; it encourages users to keep their keys
separate from tombs, for instance keeping a tomb file on your computer
harddisk and its key file on a USB stick.
Generates a file that can be used as a tomb and will occupy as much
space as its desired initial size, the unlocked .tomb file can
then be locked using a .tomb.key. It takes a mandatory option
which is the --size in megabytes (MiB). This generation is
relatively simple: its a data dump (dd) of low-quality random data
(from /dev/urandom) and does not require root privileges.
Creates a new key and prompts the user for a password to
protect its usage. This operation requires high quality random data
(from /dev/random) which can take quite some time to be gathered on a
server: it works better on a desktop where the mouse can be moved
around for entropy.
Initializes and locks an empty tomb (made with dig) using a key
(made with forge), making it ready for usage. After this
operation, the tomb can only be open in possession of the key and
knowing its password. As in any other command requiring a key, the
option -k should be used to specify a key file. This operation
requires root privileges to loopback mount, format the tomb (using
LUKS and Ext4), then set the key in its first LUKS slot.
Opens an existing .tomb (first argument) using a key (-k),
if a second argument is given it will indicate the mountpoint
where the tomb should be made accessible, else the tomb is mounted in
a directory inside /media. The option -o can be used to pass
mount(8) options (default: rw,noatime,nodev).
List all the tombs found open, including information about the time
they were opened and the hooks that they mounted. If the first
argument is present, then shows only the tomb named that way or
returns an error if its not found.
Creates or updates the search indexes of all tombs currently
open: enables use of the search command using simple word
patterns on file names. Indexes are created using mlocate updatedb(8) and
stored in a file inside the tomb's root. To avoid indexing
a specific tomb simply touch a .noindex file in its root.
Searches through all tombs currently open for filenames matching one
or more text patterns given as arguments. Search returns a list of
files found in all open tombs on which the index command was run
at least once.
Closes a currently open tomb. If more tombs are open, the first
argument should be used to specify the name of the tomb to be closed,
or all to close all currently open tombs. This command fails if
the tomb is in use by running processes (to force close, see
Closes a tomb like the command close does, but it doesn't fails
even if the tomb is in use by other application processes: it looks
for them and violently kills -9 each of them. This command may
provoke unsaved data loss, but assists users to face surprise
Changes the password protecting a key file specified using
-k. The user will need to know the key's current password, then
its content will be decoded and reencoded using the new one. This
action can't be forced if the current password is not known. If the
key file is broken (missing headers) this function also attempts its
Increase the size of a tomb file to the amount specified by the
--size option in megabytes (MiB). Full access to the tomb using
a key (-k) and its password is requires. Tombs can only grow and
can never be made smaller. This command makes use of the cryptsetup
resize feature and the resize2fs command: its much more practical than
creating a new tomb and moving everything into it.
Hides a tomb key (-k) inside a jpeg image (first argument)
using steganography: the image will change in a way that cannot
be noticed by human eye and hardly detected by data analysis. This
option is useful to backup tomb keys in unsuspected places; it depends
from the availability of steghide.
This command recovers from jpeg images the keys that were previously
hidden into them using bury. Exhume requires a key filename
(-k) and a jpeg image file (first argument) known to be
containing a key. If the right key password is given, the key will be
exhumed. If the password is not known, it is very hard to verify if a
key is buried in any image or not.
When digging or resizing a tomb, this option must be used to specify
the size of the new file to be created. Units are megabytes (MiB).
When opening a tomb, this option can specify the location of the key
file to use. Keys are created with the same name of the tomb file
adding a '.key' suffix, but can be later renamed and transported on
other media. If <keyfile> is "-" (dash), it will read it from
Activate the KDF feature against dictionary attacks when creating a key: forces a
delay of <seconds> every time this key is used. Floating point values
are accepted, default is 1.
Skip processing of post-hooks and bind-hooks if found inside the tomb.
See the HOOKS section in this manual for more information.
Manually specify mount options to be used when opening a tomb instead
of the default rw,noatime,nodev. This option can be used to
mount a tomb read-only (ro) to prevent any modification of its data,
or to experiment with other settings (if you really know what you are
doing) see the mount(8) man page.
Force flag, currently used to override swap checks, might be
overriding more wimpy behaviours in future, but make sure you know
what you are doing if you force an operation...
Display a help text and quit
Display version and quit
Run more quietly
Print more information while running, for debugging purposes
Don't use colors; useful for old terminals or integration in other
Hooks are special files that can be placed inside the tomb and trigger
actions when it is opened and closed; there are two kinds of such
files: bind-hooks and post-hooks can be placed in the
base root of the tomb.
This hook file consists of a simple two column list of files or
directories inside the tomb to be made directly accessible inside the
current user's home directory. Tomb will use the "mount -o bind"
command to bind locations inside the tomb to locations found in $HOME
so in the first column are indicated paths relative to the tomb and in
the second column are indicated paths relative to $HOME contents, for
This hook file gets executed as user by tomb right after opening it;
it can consist of a shell script of a binary executable that performs
batch operations every time a tomb is opened.
The tomb commandline tool needs to acquire super user rights to
execute most of its operations: to do so it uses sudo(8), while
pinentry(1) is adopted to collect passwords from the user. Tomb
executes as super user only when required.
To be made available on multi user systems, the superuser execution of
the tomb script can be authorized for users without jeopardizing the
whole system's security: just add such a line to /etc/sudoers:
username ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/local/bin/tomb
On execution of certain commands Tomb will complain about swap memory
on disk when that is presend and abort if your system has swap
activated. You can disable this behaviour using the
--force. Before doing that, however, you may be interested in
knowing the risks of doing so:
During such operations a lack of available memory could cause the swap
to write your secret key on the disk.
Even while using an opened tomb, another application could occupy too
much memory so that the swap needs to be used, this way it is possible
that some contents of files contained into the tomb are physically
written on your disk, not encrypted.
If you don't need swap, execute swapoff -a. If you really need
it, you could make an encrypted swap partition. Tomb doesn't detect if
your swap is encrypted, and will complain anyway.
Create a 128MB large "secret" tomb and its keys, then open it:
tomb dig -s 128 secret.tomb
tomb forge secret.tomb.key
tomb lock secret.tomb -k secret.tomb.key
tomb open secret.tomb -k secret.tomb.key
Open a Tomb using the key from a remote SSH shell, without saving any
local copy of it:
ssh firstname.lastname@example.org 'cat .secrets/tomb.key' | tomb open secret.tomb -k -
Create a bind hook that places your GnuPG folder inside the tomb, but
makes it reachable from the standard $HOME/.gnupg location every time
the tomb will be opened:
tomb open GPG.tomb -k GPG.tomb.key
echo ".gnupg .gnupg" > /media/GPG.tomb/bind-hooks
mv ~/.gnupg /media/GPG.tomb/.gnupg && mkdir ~/.gnupg
tomb close GPG && tomb open GPG.tomb -k GPG.tomb.key
Create an exec post hook that launches a Firefox browser every time
the tomb will be opened, keeping all its profile data inside it:
tomb open FOX.tomb -k FOX.tomb.key
chmod +x /media/FOX.tomb/post-hooks
cat <<EOF >> /media/FOX.tomb/post-hooks
if [ "$1" == open ]; then
firefox -no-remote -profile $(dirname $0)/firefox_prof &
Please report bugs on the tracker at
Get in touch with developers via mail by subscribing the "crypto" mailinglist on http://lists.dyne.org or via the #dyne chat channel on https://irc.dyne.org.
Tomb is designed, written and maintained by Denis Roio aka Jaromil.
Tomb includes code by Anathema, Boyska and Hellekin O. Wolf.
Tomb's artwork is contributed by Jordi aka Mon Mort
Testing and reviews are contributed by Dreamer, Shining, Mancausoft,
Asbesto Molesto and Nignux.
Cryptsetup was developed by Christophe Saout and Clemens Fruhwirth
This manual is Copyright (c) 2011-2013 by Denis Roio <email@example.com>
This manual includes contributions by Boyska.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this manual
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or
any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.
Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
manual page provided the above copyright notice and this permission
notice are preserved on all copies.
The most recent version of Tomb sourcecode and up to date
documentation is available for download from its website on
GnuPG website on http://www.gnupg.org
DM-Crypt website on http://www.saout.de/misc/dm-crypt
LUKS website, http://code.google.com/p/cryptsetup
- PRIVILEGE ESCALATION
- SEE ALSO
This document was created by
using the manual pages.
Time: 21:19:24 GMT, June 18, 2013