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I am considering building a small home server. I'd like to encrypt some folders on this server, therefore using the instruction set aes-ni which is supported by newer (mostly Intel) chips would be advantageous.

Is there a way to use aes-ni with Debian, or is there at least an alternative kernel that supports it?

[edit] Or is it already supported by default: http://kernel.alioth.debian.org/config/2.6.38-2/config_amd64_none_amd64?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It does look like it is configured in the config you listed (as CONFIG_CRYPTO_AES_NI_INTEL=m, which means configured as a module), but regardless, it is easy to build your own custom Debian kernels. See the Debian Kernel Handbook. You want 1.10, the version online is 1.09 which is out of date. The only downside of compiling a custom kernel is that you need to rebuild whenever there are security updates (and keep track of the security updates). The stock kernel updates arrive automatically via the package management system.

Manoj Srivastava's kernel-package is also used for this, but the Debian Kernel team use the procedures outlined above in the handbook to build the stock kernels, for example, so I think it is a better way to go.

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Thank you for your answer! It might be fun to compile my own kernel but I fear that it is really time consuming and the backdraw you mentioned (that you have to compile again and again) could really be annoying. As it seems like aes-ni is in the standard-kernel I would go with this one. Thank you! – Marcel May 14 '11 at 21:38
@Marcel: Compiling ones own kernel is not really time consuming if you only include what you need, and has the benefit that it can be a bit faster (though nothing dramatic). Also, it is a useful technique to know. Having said that, I usually stick to the stock kernels if I can. – Faheem Mitha May 14 '11 at 21:43

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