gpg-agent environment variables not correctly exported

Bug #1257706 reported by Guillaume Martres on 2013-12-04
This bug affects 6 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
gnupg2 (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Since Ubuntu 13.10, there is an Upstart script /usr/share/upstart/sessions/gpg-agent.conf which launches the gpg-agent daemon and then export the GPG_AGENT_INFO environment variable:
   initctl set-env --global GPG_AGENT_INFO=$GPG_AGENT_INFO
This is enough to prevent the /etc/X11/Xsession.d/90gpg-agent script from launching gpg-agent itself, but it's not enough to actually use gpg-agent, you also need to export SSH_AUTH_SOCK and SSH_AGENT_PID.

Michael Bienia (geser) wrote :

It depends on what you intend to use gpg-agent for. For caching of your passphrase of your gpg private key, I assume you don't need the SSH variables exported. But if you want gpg-agent to use as a ssh-agent too, you need to pass --enable-ssh-support to gpg-agent and export SSH_AUTH_SOCK (the man page only mentions SSH_AUTH_SOCK in the examples).

I use gpg-agent as a ssh-agent too, so I can use my OpenPGP card for SSH authentication. I've attached my ~/.init/gpg-agent.conf (used by upstart user sessions) which starts gpg-agent with --enable-ssh-support and exports SSH_AUTH_SOCK. Put it in your ~/.init/ and upstart will use it instead the one from the package.

I doubt this can be included in the package itself (perhaps as an example for those users who need it) as gpg-agent will then compete with ssh-agent (from the openssh-client package) who sets the SSH_AUTH_SOCK variable and might upset users of ssh-agent. gnome-keyring can also act as a ssh-agent so there are at least three competioners for that variable.

Alex Mauer (hawke) wrote :

I really like this, but I think it could be improved:
You don’t really need to pass --enable-ssh-support.

Instead, you can place the option in the gpg-agent.conf file (~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf)

This way there is no need to worry about competing with ssh-agent.

So the only thing to really worry about then, is exporting the appropriate environment variables, and it should be palatable to ssh-agent users.

I think this change could be included in the official package too, with no problem.

There is some inconsistency among the various *-agents though: To disable the ssh-agent you edit /etc/X11/Xsession.options; to enable the gpg-agent you edit ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf; to enable ssh support in gpg you edit ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf; and to disable ssh support in gnome-keyring (the default) you have to hack around in /etc/xdg/autostart/gnome-keyring-*.desktop. It’s a real mess.

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in gnupg2 (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Alex Mauer (hawke) wrote :

It would also be best if the gpg-agent was started before dbus, so that gvfsd (which is started by dbus) can use the gpg agent information. (e.g. using the agent to access ssh URLs)

fl0 (fl0) wrote :

Would also be nice, if the agent information could be used by nautilus. I guess this is currently not working because the environment variables cannot be used inside the GUI?

Janis Danisevskis (werwurm) wrote :

I am another user of OpenPGP-Card ssh authentication.

I have my init/gpg-agent.conf attached. It checks ~/.gnupg/gpg-agend.conf for the enable-ssh-support option and exports the SSH_ variables conditionally.

I agree with Alex Maurer that the various *-agents start-scritps are quite messy. But then they stem from various projects, so where is the right place to start this discussion?

neagix (neagix) wrote :

I have recently updated my blog post/rant about this whole class of issues.

For users/developers that want a recap and a working approach:

Feel free to merge the proposed xsession script, if you evaluate it to be of enough quality.

Dimitri John Ledkov (xnox) wrote :

gnupg2 is not in main, ubuntu uses gnupg1 by default.
in vivid, and being fixed in sru's for trusty and utopic, upstart is managing user session and launching gnupg-agent (either gnupg1 or gnome-keyring), ditto ssh-agent (either gnupg1 or gnome-keyring).

To integrate this correctly, support should be added to ssh-agent/gnome-keyring-ssh & gpg-agent/gnome-keyring-gpg to support third alternative, that is gnupg2's gpg-agent and gnupg2's ssh-agent. Patches against that are welcome.

With respect to gpg smartcard, on my machine i've copied gnupg-agent.conf job into ~/.config/upstart/ an tweaked it to export ssh-agent vairable, and also did "echo manual > ~/.config/upstart/ssh-agent.override" and thus i'm using gnupg gpg-agent for both ssh & gpg authentication.

neagix (neagix) wrote :

I see, it's in extra.

Correction: the proposed xsession script is unnecessary, as the stock 90gpg-agent works fine when ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf is correctly populated, sorry for the blunder.

@xnox so you managed to do it via upstart instead of Xsession? Interesting.

Mathew Hodson (mhodson) on 2015-03-14
tags: added: saucy
Mark Adams (kramsmada) wrote :

I've had a merge proposal in with a patch to fix this since January. If someone could review and merge, I'd appreciate it:

Mark Adams (kramsmada) wrote :

Please let me know if I didn't do this merge proposal correctly, this is my first one.

Marc Deslauriers (mdeslaur) wrote :

I think the merge request looks good. Once the dev release opens, it can be uploaded.

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