Installing NixOS with encryption on a Lenovo laptop


In this post, I walk through the steps to install NixOS on a Lenovo Yoga 7 with an encrypted root disk. This tutorial is mainly based on the tutorial by Martijn Vermaat and comments by @ahstro and dbwest.

  1. USB preparation
  2. Laptop preparation
  3. Partitioning
  4. Installing
  5. Troubleshooting
  6. Appendix I

USB preparation

Download NixOS and figure out the location of the USB drive with lsblk. Use the location of the drive and not the partition, so /dev/sdb instead of /dev/sdb1. Then, prepare the USB with

dd if=nixos.iso of=/dev/<name of USB drive>

Laptop preparation

For Lenovo laptops, Wi-Fi might not work out of the box. To enable Wi-Fi, edit the boot options by pressing e in the boot menu and add modprobe.blacklist=ideapad_laptop to the command.

The new device needs some preparation before starting the NixOS installation. Firstly, disable secure boot from BIOS settings (and remember to enable it again later for security reasons). If you cannot move inside the BIOS settings since it is not responding to key presses, then go into the BIOS settings via Windows. That is, search for BIOS in start and then reboot into some blue basic interface. From there, some of the options allow you get into the BIOS settings.

Next, check whether you have an internet connection on the new device because installing NixOS without it will be difficult. To increase the font size of the terminal, use setfont ter-v32n. Useful commands for configuring Wi-Fi are

uname -a # Check that kernel is above 5.3 for the Intel Wi-Fi driver to be available.
ip link
nmcli # Network Manager CLI
sudo wpa_supplicant -B -i wlp1s0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf

where the wpa_supplicant.conf contains

  ssid="<Wi-Fi SSID>"
  psk="<Wi-Fi password>"

Also see the NixOS manual for more information on setting up Wi-Fi. For tethering with an iPhone, see Appendix I.


After you have ensured that the system has an internet connection, NixOS can be installed.

sudo gdisk /dev/nvme0n1
sudo cryptsetup luksFormat /dev/nvme0n1p2
sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/nvme0n1p2 enc-pv

sudo pvcreate /dev/mapper/enc-pv
sudo vgcreate vg /dev/mapper/enc-pv
sudo lvcreate -L 8G -n swap vg
sudo lvcreate -l '100%FREE' -n root vg

sudo mkfs.fat /dev/nvme0n1p1
sudo mkfs.ext4 -L root /dev/vg/root
sudo mkswap -L swap /dev/vg/swap

sudo mount /dev/vg/root /mnt
sudo mkdir /mnt/boot
sudo mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt/boot
sudo swapon /dev/vg/swap

sudo nixos-generate-config --root /mnt

cd /mnt/etc/nixos/

Now find the UUID for /dev/nvme1n1p2 with

sudo blkid /dev/nvme0n1p2

And use sudo vi configuration.nix to add the following lines to the configuration

networking.wireless.enable = true;

environment.systemPackages = with pkgs; [

boot.initrd.luks.devices = {
  root = {
    device = "/dev/disk/by-uuid/06e7d974-9549-4be1-8ef2-f013efad727e";
    preLVM = true;
    allowDiscards = true;

# Without this, the graphics won't work (at the time of writing) on this relatively new laptop.
boot.kernelPackages = pkgs.linuxPackages_latest;


Finally, install NixOS with

sudo nixos-install
sudo reboot now


To fix issues with the installation, reboot from the installation media and remount all partitions.

sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/nvme0n1p2 enc-pv
sudo lvchange -a y /dev/vg/swap
sudo lvchange -a y /dev/vg/root
sudo mount /dev/vg/root /mnt
sudo mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt/boot
sudo swapon /dev/vg/swap
sudo wpa_supplicant -B -i wlp1s0 -c /mnt/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf

Appendix I

For me, Wi-Fi wasn't working until I read about the modprobe.blacklist listed above, nor did I have an ethernet port. So, for tethering an iPhone add pkgs.usbmuxd to nixos/modules/profiles/base.nix in a cloned version of nixpkgs. Note that its a good idea to clone from a release tag such as 20.03. Then,

nix-build -A -I nixos-config=modules/installer/cd-dvd/installation-cd-minimal.nix
dd if=result/iso/nixos-<...>.iso of=/dev/sda

From there, iPhone tethering worked after starting the usbmuxd tool as a background job.

sudo usbmuxd -s > usbmuxd.log 2>&1 &