Difference between revisions of "GnuPG"

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So, in order for others to send encrypted messages to you, they need your public key.  
So, in order for others to send encrypted messages to you, they need your public key.  
To generate an ASCII version of your public key (''e.g.'' to distribute it by e-mail):
To generate an ASCII version of a user's public key to file ''public.key'' (''e.g.'' to distribute it by e-mail):
  $ gpg --output ''public.key'' --armor --export ''user-id''  
  $ gpg --output public.key --armor --export ''user-id''  
Alternatively, or in addition, you can [[#Use a keyserver]] to share your key.  
Alternatively, or in addition, you can [[#Use a keyserver]] to share your key.  

Revision as of 12:54, 22 July 2017

According to the official website:

GnuPG is a complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard as defined by RFC4880 (also known as PGP). GnuPG allows you to encrypt and sign your data and communication. It features a versatile key management system as well as access modules for all kinds of public key directories. GnuPG, also known as GPG, is a command line tool with features for easy integration with other applications. A wealth of frontend applications and libraries are available. Version 2 of GnuPG also provides support for S/MIME and Secure Shell (ssh).


Install the gnupg package.

This will also install pinentry, a collection of simple PIN or passphrase entry dialogs which GnuPG uses for passphrase entry. Which pinentry dialog is used is determined by the symbolic link /usr/bin/pinentry, which by default points to /usr/bin/pinentry-gtk-2.

If you want to use a graphical frontend or program that integrates with GnuPG, see List of applications/Security#Encryption, signing, steganography.


Directory location

$GNUPGHOME is used by GnuPG to point to the directory where its configuration files are stored. By default $GNUPGHOME is not set and your $HOME is used instead; thus, you will find a ~/.gnupg directory right after installation.

To change the default location, either run gpg this way $ gpg --homedir path/to/file or set GNUPGHOME in one of your regular startup files.

Configuration files

The default configuration files are ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf and ~/.gnupg/dirmngr.conf.

By default, the gnupg directory has its permissions set to 700 and the files it contains have their permissions set to 600. Only the owner of the directory has permission to read, write, and access the files. This is for security purposes and should not be changed. In case this directory or any file inside it does not follow this security measure, you will get warnings about unsafe file and home directory permissions.

Append to these files any long options you want. Do not write the two dashes, but simply the name of the option and required arguments. You will find skeleton files in /usr/share/gnupg. These files are copied to ~/.gnupg the first time gpg is run if they do not exist there. Other examples are found in #See also.

Additionally, pacman uses a different set of configuration files for package signature verification. See Pacman/Package signing for details.

Default options for new users

If you want to setup some default options for new users, put configuration files in /etc/skel/.gnupg/. When the new user is added in system, files from here will be copied to its GnuPG home directory. There is also a simple script called addgnupghome which you can use to create new GnuPG home directories for existing users:

# addgnupghome user1 user2

This will add the respective /home/user1/.gnupg and /home/user2/.gnupg and copy the files from the skeleton directory to it. Users with existing GnuPG home directory are simply skipped.


Note: Whenever a user-id is required in a command, it can be specified with your key ID, fingerprint, a part of your name or email address, etc. GnuPG is flexible on this.

Create key pair

Generate a key pair by typing in a terminal:

$ gpg --full-gen-key
Tip: Use the --expert option for getting alternative ciphers like ECC.

The command will prompt for answers to several questions. For general use most people will want:

  • the RSA (sign only) and a RSA (encrypt only) key.
  • a keysize of the default value (2048). A larger keysize of 4096 "gives us almost nothing, while costing us quite a lot"[1].
  • an expiration date. A period of a year is good enough for the average user. This way even if access is lost to the keyring, it will allow others to know that it is no longer valid. Later, if necessary, the expiration date can be extended without having to re-issue a new key.
  • your name and email address. You can add multiple identities to the same key later (e.g., if you have multiple email addresses you want to associate with this key).
  • no optional comment. Since the semantics of the comment field are not well-defined, it has limited value for identification.
  • a secure passphrase.
Note: The name and email address you enter here will be seen by anybody who imports your key.

List keys

To list keys in your public key ring:

$ gpg --list-keys

To list keys in your secret key ring:

$ gpg --list-secret-keys

Export your public key

gpg's main usage is to ensure confidentiality of exchanged messages via public-key cryptography. With it each user distributes the public key of their keyring, which can be be used by others to encrypt messages to the user. The private key must always be kept private, otherwise confidentiality is broken. See w:Public-key cryptography for examples about the message exchange.

So, in order for others to send encrypted messages to you, they need your public key.

To generate an ASCII version of a user's public key to file public.key (e.g. to distribute it by e-mail):

$ gpg --output public.key --armor --export user-id 

Alternatively, or in addition, you can #Use a keyserver to share your key.

Tip: Add --no-emit-version to avoid printing the version number, or add the corresponding setting to your configuration file.

Import a public key

In order to encrypt messages to others, as well as verify their signatures, you need their public key. To import a public key with file name public.key to your public key ring:

$ gpg --import public.key

Alternatively, #Use a keyserver to find a public key.

Use a keyserver

You can register your key with a public PGP key server, so that others can retrieve your key without having to contact you directly:

$ gpg --send-keys user-id

To find out details of a key on the keyserver, without importing it, do:

$ gpg --search-keys user-id

To import a key from a key server:

$ gpg --recv-keys key-id
  • You should verify the authenticity of the retrieved public key by comparing its fingerprint with one that the owner published on an independent source(s) (i.e., contacting the person directly). See Wikipedia:Public key fingerprint for more information.
  • Using a short ID may encounter collisions. All keys will be imported that have the short ID. To avoid this, use the full fingerprint or long key ID when receiving a key.[2]
  • Adding keyserver-options auto-key-retrieve to gpg.conf will automatically fetch keys from the key server as needed.
  • An alternative key server is pool.sks-keyservers.net and can be specified with keyserver in dirmngr.conf; see also wikipedia:Key server (cryptographic)#Keyserver examples.
  • If your network blocks ports used for hkp/hkps, you may need to specify port 80, i.e. pool.sks-keyservers.net:80
  • You can connect to the keyserver over Tor using --use-tor. See this GnuPG blog post for more information.
  • You can connect to a keyserver using a proxy by setting the http_proxy environment variable and setting honor-http-proxy in dirmngr.conf. Alternatively, set http-proxy host[:port] in dirmngr.conf, overriding the http_proxy environment variable.
  • If you wish to import a key ID to install a specific Arch Linux package, see pacman/Package signing#Managing the keyring and Makepkg#Signature checking.

Encrypt and decrypt


You need to #Import a public key of a user before encrypting (options --encrypt or -e) a file or message to that recipient (options --recipient or -r). Additionally you need to #Create key pair if you have not already done so.

To encrypt a file with the name doc, use:

$ gpg --recipient user-id --encrypt doc

To decrypt (option --decrypt or -d) a file with the name doc.gpg encrypted with your public key, use:

$ gpg --output doc --decrypt doc.gpg

gpg will prompt you for your passphrase and then decrypt and write the data from doc.gpg to doc. If you omit the -o (--output) option, gpg will write the decrypted data to stdout.

  • Add --armor to encrypt a file using ASCII armor (suitable for copying and pasting a message in text format)
  • Use -R user-id or --hidden-recipient user-id instead of -r to not put the recipient key IDs in the encrypted message. This helps to hide the receivers of the message and is a limited countermeasure against traffic analysis.
  • Add --no-emit-version to avoid printing the version number, or add the corresponding setting to your configuration file.
  • You can use gnupg to encrypt your sensitive documents by using your own user-id as recipient or by using the --default-recipient-self flag instead; however, you can only do this one file at a time, although you can always tarball various files and then encrypt the tarball. See also Disk encryption#Available methods if you want to encrypt directories or a whole file-system.


Symmetric encryption does not require the generation of a key pair and can be used to simply encrypt data with a passphrase. Simply use --symmetric or -c to perform symmetic encryption:

$ gpg -c doc

The following example:

  • Encrypts doc with a symmetric cipher using a passphrase
  • Uses the AES-256 cipher algorithm to encrypt the passphrase
  • Uses the SHA-512 digest algorithm to mangle the passphrase
  • Mangles the passphrase for 65536 iterations
$ gpg -c --s2k-cipher-algo AES256 --s2k-digest-algo SHA512 --s2k-count 65536 doc

To decrypt a symmetrically encrypted doc.gpg using a passphrase and output decrypted contents into the same directory as doc do:

$ gpg --output doc --decrypt doc.gpg

Key maintenance

Backup your private key

To backup your private key do the following:

$ gpg --export-secret-keys --armor <user-id> > privkey.asc

Note that gpg release 2.1 changed default behaviour so that the above command enforces a passphrase protection, even if you deliberately chose not to use one on key creation. This is because otherwise anyone who gains access to the above exported file would be able to encrypt and sign documents as if they were you without needing to know your passphrase.

Warning: The passphrase is usually the weakest link in protecting your secret key. Place the private key in a safe place on a different system/device, such as a locked container or encrypted drive. It is the only safety you have to regain control to your keyring in case of, for example, a drive failure, theft or worse.

To import the backup of your private key:

$ gpg --import privkey.asc

Edit your key

Running the gpg --edit-key <user-id> command will present a menu which enables you to do most of your key management related tasks.

Some useful commands in the edit key sub menu:

> passwd       # change the passphrase
> clean        # compact any user ID that is no longer usable (e.g revoked or expired)
> revkey       # revoke a key
> addkey       # add a subkey to this key
> expire       # change the key expiration time

Type help in the edit key sub menu for more commands.

Tip: If you have multiple email accounts you can add each one of them as an identity, using adduid command. You can then set your favourite one as primary.

Exporting subkey

If you plan to use the same key across multiple devices, you may want to strip out your master key and only keep the bare minimum encryption subkey on less secure systems.

First, find out which subkey you want to export.

$ gpg -K

Select only that subkey to export.

$ gpg -a --export-secret-subkeys [subkey id]! > /tmp/subkey.gpg
Warning: If you forget to add the !, all of your subkeys will be exported.

At this point you could stop, but it is most likely a good idea to change the passphrase as well. Import the key into a temporary folder.

$ gpg --homedir /tmp/gpg --import /tmp/subkey.gpg
$ gpg --homedir /tmp/gpg --edit-key <user-id>
> passwd
> save
$ gpg --homedir /tmp/gpg -a --export-secret-subkeys [subkey id]! > /tmp/subkey.altpass.gpg
Note: You will get a warning that the master key was not available and the password was not changed, but that can safely be ignored as the subkey password was.

At this point, you can now use /tmp/subkey.altpass.gpg on your other devices.

Rotating subkeys

Warning: Never delete your expired or revoked subkeys unless you have a good reason. Doing so will cause you to lose the ability to decrypt files encrypted with the old subkey. Please only delete expired or revoked keys from other users to clean your keyring.

If you have set your subkeys to expire after a set time, you can create new ones. Do this a few weeks in advance to allow others to update their keyring.

Tip: You do not need to create a new key simply because it is expired. You can extend the expiration date.

Create new subkey (repeat for both signing and encrypting key)

$ gpg --edit-key <user-id>
> addkey

And answer the following questions it asks (see #Create key pair for suggested settings).

Save changes

> save

Update it to a keyserver.

$ gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --send-keys <user-id>
Tip: Revoking expired subkeys is unnecessary and arguably bad form. If you are constantly revoking keys, it may cause others to lack confidence in you.


Signatures certify and timestamp documents. If the document is modified, verification of the signature will fail. Unlike encryption which uses public keys to encrypt a document, signatures are created with the user's private key. The recipient of a signed document then verifies the signature using the sender's public key.

Create a signature

Sign a file

To sign a file use the --sign or -s flag:

 $ gpg --output doc.sig --sign doc

doc.sig contains both the compressed content of the original file doc and the signature in a binary format, but the file is not encrypted. However, you can combine signing with encrypting.

Clearsign a file or message

To sign a file without compressing it into binary format use:

 $ gpg --output doc.sig --clearsign doc

Here both the content of the original file doc and the signature are stored in human-readable form in doc.sig.

Make a detached signature

To create a separate signature file to be distributed separately from the document or file itself, use the --detach-sig flag:

 $ gpg --output doc.sig --detach-sig doc

Here the signature is stored in doc.sig, but the contents of doc are not stored in it. This method is often used in distributing software projects to allow users to verify that the program has not been modified by a third party.

Verify a signature

To verify a signature use the --verify flag:

 $ gpg --verify doc.sig

where doc.sig is the signed file containing the signature you wish to verify.

If you are verifying a detached signature, both the signed data file and the signature file must be present when verifying. For example, to verify Arch Linux's latest iso you would do:

 $ gpg --verify archlinux-version.iso.sig

where archlinux-version.iso must be located in the same directory.

You can also specify the signed data file with a second argument:

 $ gpg --verify archlinux-version.iso.sig /path/to/archlinux-version.iso

If a file as been encrypted in addition to being signed, simply decrypt the file and its signature will also be verified.


gpg-agent is mostly used as daemon to request and cache the password for the keychain. This is useful if GnuPG is used from an external program like a mail client. gnupg comes with systemd user sockets which are enabled by default. These sockets are gpg-agent.socket, gpg-agent-extra.socket, gpg-agent-browser.socket, gpg-agent-ssh.socket, and dirmngr.socket.

Tango-view-fullscreen.pngThis article or section needs expansion.Tango-view-fullscreen.png

Reason: Add gpg-agent-browser.socket to the list. (Discuss in Talk:GnuPG#)
  • The main gpg-agent.socket is used by gpg to connect to the gpg-agent daemon.
  • The intended use for the gpg-agent-extra.socket on a local system is to set up a Unix domain socket forwarding from a remote system. This enables to use gpg on the remote system without exposing the private keys to the remote system. See gpg-agent(1) for details.
  • The gpg-agent-ssh.socket can be used by SSH to cache SSH keys added by the ssh-add program. See #SSH agent for the necessary configuration.
  • The dirmngr.socket starts a GnuPG daemon handling connections to keyservers.
Note: If you use non-default GnuPG #Directory location, you will need to edit all socket files to use the path in the socket directory that gpgconf --create-socketdir creates.


gpg-agent can be configured via ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf file. The configuration options are listed in man gpg-agent. For example you can change cache ttl for unused keys:

default-cache-ttl 3600
Tip: To cache your passphrase for the whole session, please run the following command:
$ /usr/lib/gnupg/gpg-preset-passphrase --preset XXXXXX

where XXXX is the keygrip. You can get its value when running gpg --with-keygrip -K. Passphrase will be stored until gpg-agent is restarted. If you set up default-cache-ttl value, it will take precedence.

Reload the agent

After changing the configuration, reload the agent using gpg-connect-agent:

$ gpg-connect-agent reloadagent /bye

The command should print OK.


Finally, the agent needs to know how to ask the user for the password. This can be set in the gpg-agent configuration file.

The default uses a gtk dialog. There are other options - see info pinentry. To change the dialog implementation set pinentry-program configuration option:


# PIN entry program
# pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-curses
# pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-qt
# pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-kwallet

pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-gtk-2
Tip: For using /usr/bin/pinentry-kwallet you have to install the kwalletcliAUR package.

After making this change, reload the gpg-agent.

Unattended passphrase

Starting with GnuPG 2.1.0 the use of gpg-agent and pinentry is required, which may break backwards compatibility for passphrases piped in from STDIN using the --passphrase-fd 0 commandline option. In order to have the same type of functionality as the older releases two things must be done:

First, edit the gpg-agent configuration to allow loopback pinentry mode:


Restart the gpg-agent process if it is running to let the change take effect.

Second, either the application needs to be updated to include a commandline parameter to use loopback mode like so:

$ gpg --pinentry-mode loopback ...

...or if this is not possible, add the option to the configuration:

pinentry-mode loopback
Note: The upstream author indicates setting pinentry-mode loopback in gpg.conf may break other usage, using the commandline option should be preferred if at all possible. [3]

SSH agent

gpg-agent has OpenSSH agent emulation. If you already use the GnuPG suite, you might consider using its agent to also cache your SSH keys. Additionally, some users may prefer the PIN entry dialog GnuPG agent provides as part of its passphrase management.

To start using GnuPG agent for your SSH keys, enable SSH support in the ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf file:


Then set SSH_AUTH_SOCK so that SSH will use gpg-agent instead of ssh-agent. To make sure each process can find your gpg-agent instance regardless of e.g. the type of shell it is child of use pam_env.

SSH_AUTH_SOCK	DEFAULT="${XDG_RUNTIME_DIR}/gnupg/S.gpg-agent.ssh"

Alternatively, depend on Bash:

# Set SSH to use gpg-agent
if [ "${gnupg_SSH_AUTH_SOCK_by:-0}" -ne $$ ]; then
  export SSH_AUTH_SOCK="/run/user/$UID/gnupg/S.gpg-agent.ssh"
  • If you use non-default GnuPG #Directory location, run gpgconf --create-socketdir to create a socket directory under /run/user/$UID/gnupg/. Otherwise the socket will be placed in the GnuPG home directory.
  • The test involving the gnupg_SSH_AUTH_SOCK_by variable is for the case where the agent is started as gpg-agent --daemon /bin/sh, in which case the shell inherits the SSH_AUTH_SOCK variable from the parent, gpg-agent [4].

Also set the GPG_TTY and refresh the TTY in case user has switched into an X session as stated in man gpg-agent. For example:

export GPG_TTY=$(tty)

# Refresh gpg-agent tty in case user switches into an X session
gpg-connect-agent updatestartuptty /bye >/dev/null

Once gpg-agent is running you can use ssh-add to approve keys, following the same steps as for ssh-agent. The list of approved keys is stored in the ~/.gnupg/sshcontrol file. Once your key is approved, you will get a pinentry dialog every time your passphrase is needed. You can control passphrase caching in the ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf file. The following example would have gpg-agent cache your keys for 3 hours:

default-cache-ttl-ssh 10800
max-cache-ttl-ssh 10800


GnuPG uses scdaemon as an interface to your smartcard reader, please refer to the man page for details.

GnuPG only setups

Note: To allow scdaemon direct access to USB smarcard readers the optional dependency libusb-compat have to be installed

If you do not plan to use other cards but those based on GnuPG, you should check the reader-port parameter in ~/.gnupg/scdaemon.conf. The value '0' refers to the first available serial port reader and a value of '32768' (default) refers to the first USB reader.

GnuPG with pcscd (PCSC Lite)

Note: pcsclite and ccid have to be installed, and the contained systemd service pcscd.service has to be running, or the socket pcscd.socket has to be listening.

pcscd is a daemon which handles access to smartcard (SCard API). If GnuPG's scdaemon fails to connect the smartcard directly (e.g. by using its integrated CCID support), it will fallback and try to find a smartcard using the PCSC Lite driver.

Always use pcscd

If you are using any smartcard with an opensc driver (e.g.: ID cards from some countries) you should pay some attention to GnuPG configuration. Out of the box you might receive a message like this when using gpg --card-status

gpg: selecting openpgp failed: ec=6.108

By default, scdaemon will try to connect directly to the device. This connection will fail if the reader is being used by another process. For example: the pcscd daemon used by OpenSC. To cope with this situation we should use the same underlying driver as opensc so they can work well together. In order to point scdaemon to use pcscd you should remove reader-port from ~/.gnupg/scdaemon.conf, specify the location to libpcsclite.so library and disable ccid so we make sure that we use pcscd:

pcsc-driver /usr/lib/libpcsclite.so
card-timeout 5

Please check man scdaemon if you do not use OpenSC.

Tips and tricks

Different algorithm

You may want to use stronger algorithms:


personal-digest-preferences SHA512
cert-digest-algo SHA512
default-preference-list SHA512 SHA384 SHA256 SHA224 AES256 AES192 AES CAST5 ZLIB BZIP2 ZIP Uncompressed
personal-cipher-preferences TWOFISH CAMELLIA256 AES 3DES

In the latest version of GnuPG, the default algorithms used are SHA256 and AES, both of which are secure enough for most people. However, if you are using a version of GnuPG older than 2.1, or if you want an even higher level of security, then you should follow the above step.

Encrypt a password

Tip: pass automates this process.

It can be useful to encrypt some password, so it will not be written in clear on a configuration file. A good example is your email password.

First create a file with your password. You need to leave one empty line after the password, otherwise gpg will return an error message when evaluating the file.

Then run:

$ gpg -e -a -r <user-id> your_password_file

-e is for encrypt, -a for armor (ASCII output), -r for recipient user ID.

You will be left with a new your_password_file.asc file.

Revoking a key

  • Anybody having access to your revocation certificate can revoke your key, rendering it useless.
  • Key revocation should only be performed if your key is compromised or lost, or you forget your passphrase.

Revocation certificates are automatically generated for newly generated keys, although one can be generated manually by the user later. These are located at ~/.gnupg/openpgp-revocs.d/. The filename of the certificate is the fingerprint of the key it will revoke.

To revoke your key, simply import the revocation certificate:

$ gpg --import <fingerprint>.rev

Now update the keyserver:

$ gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --send-keys <userid>

Change trust model

By default GnuPG uses the Web of Trust as the trust model. You can change this to Trust on first use by adding --trust-model=tofu when adding a key or adding this option to your GnuPG configuration file. More details are in this email to the GnuPG list.

Hide all recipient id's

By default the recipient's key ID is in the encrypted message. This can be removed at encryption time for a recipient by using hidden-recipient <user-id>. To remove it for all recipients add throw-keyids to your configuration file. This helps to hide the receivers of the message and is a limited countermeasure against traffic analysis. (Using a little social engineering anyone who is able to decrypt the message can check whether one of the other recipients is the one he suspects.) On the receiving side, it may slow down the decryption process because all available secret keys must be tried (e.g. with --try-secret-key <user-id>).

Using caff for keysigning parties

To allow users to validate keys on the keyservers and in their keyrings (i.e. make sure they are from whom they claim to be), PGP/GPG uses the Web of Trust. Keysigning parties allow users to get together at a physical location to validate keys. The Zimmermann-Sassaman key-signing protocol is a way of making these very effective. Here you will find a how-to article.

For an easier process of signing keys and sending signatures to the owners after a keysigning party, you can use the tool caff. It can be installed from the AUR with the package caff-svnAUR.

To send the signatures to their owners you need a working MTA. If you do not have already one, install msmtp.

Always show long ID's and fingerprints

To always show long key ID's add keyid-format 0xlong to your configuration file. To always show full fingerprints of keys, add with-fingerprint to your configuration file.


Not enough random bytes available

When generating a key, gpg can run into this error:

Not enough random bytes available. Please do some other work to give the OS a chance to collect more entropy!

To check the available entropy, check the kernel parameters:

cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail

A healthy Linux system with a lot of entropy available will have return close to the full 4,096 bits of entropy. If the value returned is less than 200, the system is running low on entropy.

To solve it, remember you do not often need to create keys and best just do what the message suggests (e.g. create disk activity, move the mouse, edit the wiki - all will create entropy). If that does not help, check which service is using up the entropy and consider stopping it for the time. If that is no alternative, see Random number generation#Alternatives.


When using pinentry, you must have the proper permissions of the terminal device (e.g. /dev/tty1) in use. However, with su (or sudo), the ownership stays with the original user, not the new one. This means that pinentry will fail, even as root. The fix is to change the permissions of the device at some point before the use of pinentry (i.e. using gpg with an agent). If doing gpg as root, simply change the ownership to root right before using gpg:

# chown root /dev/ttyN  # where N is the current tty

and then change it back after using gpg the first time. The equivalent is likely to be true with /dev/pts/.

Note: The owner of tty must match with the user for which pinentry is running. Being part of the group tty is not enough.
Tip: If you run gpg with script it will use a new tty with the correct ownership:
# script -q -c "gpg --gen-key" /dev/null

Agent complains end of file

The default pinentry program is pinentry-gtk-2, which needs a DBus session bus to run properly. See General troubleshooting#Session permissions for details.

Alternatively, you can use pinentry-qt. See #pinentry.

KGpg configuration permissions

There have been issues with kgpg being able to access the ~/.gnupg/ options. One issue might be a result of a deprecated options file, see the bug report.

Conflicts between gnome-keyring and gpg-agent

Tango-edit-cut.pngThis section is being considered for removal.Tango-edit-cut.png

Reason: Useless statement for an old version of GnuPG. (Discuss in Talk:GnuPG#)

Although the Gnome keyring implements a GPG agent component, GnuPG ignores the GPG_AGENT_INFO environment variable, so that Gnome keyring can no longer be used as a GPG agent.

Tango-go-next.pngThis article or section is a candidate for moving to #pinentry.Tango-go-next.png

Notes: Configuration does not belong under troubleshooting. (Discuss in Talk:GnuPG#)

However, the package pinentry provides the pinentry-gnome3 program. You may set the following option in your gpg-agent.conf file

 pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-gnome3

in order to make use of that pinentry program.

All pinentry programs can be configured to optionally save a passphrase with libsecret. For example, when the user is asked for a passphrase via pinentry-gnome3, a checkbox is shown whether to save the passphrase using a password manager.

GNOME on Wayland overrides SSH agent socket

For Wayland sessions, gnome-session sets SSH_AUTH_SOCK to the standard gnome-keyring socket, $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR/keyring/ssh. This overrides any value set in ~/.pam_environmment or systemd unit files.

To disable this behavior, set the GSM_SKIP_AGENT_WORKAROUND variable:

SSH_AUTH_SOCK	DEFAULT="${XDG_RUNTIME_DIR}/gnupg/S.gpg-agent.ssh"

mutt and gpg

To be asked for your GnuPG password only once per session, see this forum thread.

"Lost" keys, upgrading to gnupg version 2.1

When gpg --list-keys fails to show keys that used to be there, and applications complain about missing or invalid keys, some keys may not have been migrated to the new format.

Please read GnuPG invalid packet workaround. Basically, it says that there is a bug with keys in the old pubring.gpg and secring.gpg files, which have now been superseded by the new pubring.kbx file and the private-keys-v1.d/ subdirectory and files. Your missing keys can be recovered with the following commnads:

$ cd
$ cp -r .gnupg gnupgOLD
$ gpg --export-ownertrust > otrust.txt
$ gpg --import .gnupg/pubring.gpg
$ gpg --import-ownertrust otrust.txt
$ gpg --list-keys

gpg hanged for all keyservers (when trying to receive keys)

If gpg hanged with a certain keyserver when trying to receive keys, you might need to kill dirmngr in order to get access to other keyservers which are actually working, otherwise it might keeping hanging for all of them.

Smartcard not detected

Your user might not have the permission to access the smartcard which results in a card error to be thrown, even though the card is correctly set up and inserted.

One possible solution is to add a new group scard including the users who need access to the smartcard.

Then use an udev rule, similar to the following:

ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ENV{ID_VENDOR_ID}=="1050", ENV{ID_MODEL_ID}=="0116|0111", MODE="660", GROUP="scard"

One needs to adapt VENDOR and MODEL according to the lsusb output, the above example is for a YubikeyNEO.

gpg: WARNING: server 'gpg-agent' is older than us (x < y)

This warning appears if gnupg is upgraded and the old gpg-agent is still running. Restart the user's gpg-agent.socket (i.e., use the --user flag when restarting).

See also