I've an image backup file of my harddisk, which consists of three partitions (sudo fdisk -l /mnt/hdd/19_02.img):

Device                 Start       End   Sectors   Size Type
/mnt/hdd/19_02.img1     2048   1050623   1048576   512M EFI System
/mnt/hdd/19_02.img2  1050624  34686975  33636352    16G Linux swap
/mnt/hdd/19_02.img3 34686976 976773134 942086159 449.2G Linux filesystem

The third partition ist of type crypto_LUKS. If it wouldn't be encrypted I could mount it with sudo mount -o loop,offset=$(expr 512 \* 34686976) /mnt/hdd/19_02.img /mnt/img, which results in mount: /mnt/img: unknown filesystem type 'crypto_LUKS'.

What I've tried

sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /mnt/hdd/19_02.img3 img results in Device /mnt/hdd/19_02.img3 doesn't exist or access denied.

sudo cryptsetup plainOpen --offset=$(expr 512 \* 34686976) /mnt/hdd/19_02.img img asks for my passphrase which also gets accepted, but returns with Requested offset is beyond real size of device /mnt/hdd/19_02.img. Alright, maybe cryptsetup does multiply the offset value with the block size by itself.

sudo cryptsetup plainOpen --offset=34686976 /mnt/hdd/19_02.img img asks for my passphrase which also gets accepted and returns fine. But sudo mount /dev/mapper/img /mnt/img complains mount: /mnt/img: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/mapper/img. Analysing with sudo lsblk -f /dev/mapper/img shows there is no filesystem recognized.


The encrypted device was created by LUKS mode, so it properly makes not much sense opening it with plainOpen. But luksOpen doesn't offer an --offset option.

Doing sudo cryptsetup luksOpen --offset=34686976 /mnt/hdd/19_02.img img results in cryptsetup: Option --offset is supported only for open of plain and loopaes devices and for luksFormat. (Didn't tried luksFormat, but it sets up the LUKS device header and encrypts the master-key.)

The question after all

How to do cryptsetup luksOpen with offset on an image file?

1 Answer 1


fdisk is being a bit stupid here: when displaying device names for the partitions, it just takes the name of the whole-disk device given to it, and appends the partition number (prefixed with p if the last character of the whole-disk device name is also a number). It does this without checking if a device by that name actually exists or not.

In other words, if your image file is named /mnt/hdd/19_02.img and you're using fdisk to examine it directly, then partition names like /mnt/hdd/19_02.img3 are completely fictional and unusable.

Instead of trying to calculate offsets manually, you could simply attach the image file into a loop device and have it automatically detect the partitions for you:

sudo losetup -P /dev/loop0 /mnt/hdd/19_02.img

If your system is new enough to support the -P option for losetup, you should now have partition devices like /dev/loop0p1, /dev/loop0p2 and /dev/loop0p3 appearing automatically.

For older distributions with no partitioned loop device support, you can use the kpartx command (may come with the device-mapper-multipath tools if not packaged separately) for the same purpose. In that case, you'll have to perform two steps and the device names will be slightly different:

sudo losetup /dev/loop0 /mnt/hdd/19_02.img
sudo kpartx -a /dev/loop0

When using kpartx like this, the partition devices will appear under /dev/mapper, e.g. /dev/mapper/loop0p1 and so on.

Now you should be able to do either

sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/loop0p3 img


sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/mapper/loop0p3 img

depending on whether you used losetup -P or kpartx to handle the partition devices.

After you're done accessing the image, unmount any mounted filesystems on the partition devices, sudo cryptsetup luksClose the encrypted image, then undo the loop device binding:

If you used kpartx, first run sudo kpartx -d /dev/loop0 to release the partition devices. If you used losetup -P, this step is not needed.

Then, release the loop device: sudo losetup -d /dev/loop0.

  • 1
    Thank you for your help, it worked at once :)! And special thanks to consider the possibility of having losetup -P or kpartx and explaining the difference.
    – arminfro
    Mar 4, 2019 at 11:30

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