Charlie Harvey

Backtrack5, on an encrypted USB filesystem and nouveau driver

Backtrack Linux has become increasingly useful to me over the last few months. The latest release Backtrack 5 came out on 10 May, so I, of course wanted to have a play. Just a little background on Backtrack. Its specifically aimed at security professionals and hackers and has everything that you might need to do information security work, digital forensics, pen testing and so on. The new release brings a GNOME desktop – the previous version was a KDE-only distro – which is a big deal for me. Its got the shinyness of Ubuntu with the focus of a proper infosec distro. Very, very good.

So, obviously I wanted to do like I did with Backtrack 4 and shove it on an encrypted USB key. I followed @InfoSecRamblins fantastic tutorial, Backtrack 5 – Bootable USB Thumb Drive with “Full” Disk Encryption. And everything was all hunky-dory, except the X server. I was booting into BT5-Gnome 32bit on an nvidia system. When trying to start X. I got this message: (EE) [drm] failed to open device

Further perusal of the Xorg log told me that X was using the nouveau driver. If I overrode the nouveau driver in my xorg.conf (with the nv driver) I could startx. But it looked ugly and was slow (as you'd expect with nv). The problem was not present on the live cd/live USB.

As it turns out the solution is documented on the noveau troubleshooting wiki. Long and short, if you hit the same issue, you need to edit your /boot/grub/grub.cfg to remove the nomodeset on the kernel commandline.

Now my BT5 has pretty graphics and everything is right with the world once more. Here's the Backtract 5 trailer. Happy hacking!


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