I just got a new pc that comes with an empty 250GB 3G SATA Non-Hot Plug 7,200rpm HDD. I decided to install Debian 6 from a USB, I chose the partition to be Guided - use entire disk and set up encrypted LVM, however, so far is taking about 9 hours and is at 93% (erasing), the progress bar is moving, but really slowly.

Is this normal? or could it be some hardware issues?



This is not a hardware issue or a bug.

The reason that it is taking so long is that it is doing a secure wipe of the entire hard disk by filling it with random data. The reason that this is being done, from a security standpoint is that it prevents attackers from being able to determine which parts of the disk actually contain your encrypted data, and which contain nothing (because well-encrypted data should be indistinguishable from random data). Unfortunately, security isn't always convenient and this takes an extremely long time (it can take more than 24 hours on larger disks).

However, if you don't care about wiping the disk, then you can select the (poorly labeled) "cancel" button, which will not cancel the installation, but will just cancel the wiping step, and continue on setting up your encrypted volume, albeit possibly at the expense of security.

  • 1
    However, in my opinion it is a (usability) bug that the installer doesn't warn people before this process begins that "Hey, did you know you might be sitting here for 20+ hours waiting for this next step to finish?" ... It's also a usability bug that the button to skip the step is called "Cancel" (it should say "Skip this step" instead). – J. Taylor Sep 17 '14 at 5:19
  • The accepted answer on this thread explains the reasoning for this process in much more detail: security.stackexchange.com/questions/26594/… – J. Taylor Sep 17 '14 at 6:56
  • Please mark this answer accepted and save some time for the next person to come here.. Debian 7 and still the case.. – amyassin Mar 29 '15 at 16:22

Possibly. If I recall correctly, debian copies debug output to console #2 or #3. Hit control-alt-F2 (or F3) to drop out of graphics mode and see if there's any error messages cropping up.

I agree, though - nine hours sounds wrong.

  • I tried opening a new console (#2, #3), however, all I get is a clean console ready to use debian# – Mike Sullivan Jun 7 '11 at 12:49
  • Go through #1 through #4; one of them should be the debug output. – Shadur Jun 7 '11 at 13:26

I assume this is also true for Debian 6 (I haven't confirmed it), but by default Debian 5 will do a cryptographically secure erase when setting up an encrypted partition. This takes a long time, and might account for your 9 hour install.

If you partition manually, you can tell it to skip that step and it will finish much faster, with the the caveat that there may be remnants of the old data still in the unused areas of the disk.


Though this might seem like necroposting it is still quite relevant and a problem I ran in to myself recently with the current stable release of Debian. My 1 terabyte drive took a day and a half to wipe.

In Debian 7 (Wheezy) when setup says it is "erasing the disk" - the part that takes so long - you can safely hit cancel to proceed to the next step which is selecting your password. Other "cancel buttons" in the Debian setup process typically cancel the entire installation, but not this one. I have not tested this on any versions other than Wheezy.

NOTE: this of course means that you are skipping the step that writes random data over the disk, and defeating the security that provides. Frankly, if you are not concerned about the privacy of that data then by all means just cancel the wipe. S.


I can confirm this on Debian 7. I have a 500GB HDD and it took 3 hours for just approx. 13% of the full capacity. When something like this happens my advice is to ask yourself "Do I really need an encrypted LVM?". If you have some important data that you want to preserve from unwanted access, you can encrypt the data separately.

Also note that CPU and type of storage are very important here. My computer is pretty old hence encrypting things takes longer than on a modern machine.

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