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GNOME/Keyring -

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Gnome Keyring is "a collection of components in GNOME that store secrets, passwords, keys, certificates and make them available to applications."

Note: There are some #Known issues.
This article was taken partly or wholly, with or without modification from: ArchWiki


When using GNOME, gnome-keyring is installed automatically. Otherwise install the gnome-keyring package.

Extra utilities related to GNOME keyring include:

Manage using GUI

You can manage the contents of GNOME Keyring using Seahorse. Install it with the package seahorse.

It is possible to leave the GNOME keyring password blank or change it. In seahorse, in the "View" drop-down menu, select "By Keyring". On the Passwords tab, right click on "Passwords: login" and pick "Change password." Enter the old password and leave empty the new password. You will be warned about using unencrypted storage; continue by pushing "Use Unsafe Storage."

Using the keyring outside GNOME

Without a display manager

Automatic login

If you are using automatic login, then you can disable the keyring manager by setting a blank password on the login keyring.

Note: The passwords are stored unencrypted in this case.

Console login

When using console-based login, the keyring daemon can be started by either PAM or xinitrc. PAM can also unlock the keyring automatically at login.

PAM method

Start the gnome-keyring-daemon from /etc/pam.d/login:

Add auth optional pam_gnome_keyring.so at the end of the auth section and session optional pam_gnome_keyring.so auto_start at the end of the session section.

 auth       required     pam_securetty.so
 auth       requisite    pam_nologin.so
 auth       include      system-local-login
 auth       optional     pam_gnome_keyring.so
 account    include      system-local-login
 session    include      system-local-login
 session    optional     pam_gnome_keyring.so        auto_start

Next, add password optional pam_gnome_keyring.so to the end of /etc/pam.d/passwd.


 #password	required	pam_cracklib.so difok=2 minlen=8 dcredit=2 ocredit=2 retry=3
 #password	required	pam_unix.so sha512 shadow use_authtok
 password	required	pam_unix.so sha512 shadow nullok
 password	optional	pam_gnome_keyring.so
  • To use automatic unlocking, the same password for the user account and the keyring have to be set.
  • You will still need the code in ~/.xinitrc below in order to export the environment variables required.
xinitrc method

Start the gnome-keyring-daemon from xinitrc:

eval $(/usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=pkcs11,secrets,ssh)

See Xfce#SSH agents for use in Xfce.

With a display manager

When using a display manager, the keyring works out of the box for most cases. The following display managers automatically unlock the keyring once you log in:

Note: You may need to install libgnome-keyring

To enable the keyring for applications run through the terminal, such as SSH, add the following to your ~/.bash_profile, ~/.zshenv, or similar:

if [ -n "$DESKTOP_SESSION" ];then
    eval $(gnome-keyring-daemon --start)
    export SSH_AUTH_SOCK
Note: The GNOME Keyring Daemon no longer exposes GNOME_KEYRING_PID. See commit.

SSH keys

To add your SSH key:

$ ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_dsa
Enter passphrase for /home/mith/.ssh/id_dsa:

To list automatically loaded keys:

$ ssh-add -L

To disable all keys;

$ ssh-add -D

Now when you connect to a server, the key will be found and a dialog will popup asking you for the passphrase. It has an option to automatically unlock the key when you log in. If you check this, you will not need to enter your passphrase again!

Alternatively, to permanently save the a passphrase in the keyring, use seahorse-ssh-askpass from package seahorse:

/usr/lib/seahorse/seahorse-ssh-askpass my_key
Note: You have to have a have the corresponding .pub file in the same directory as the private key (~/.ssh/id_dsa.pub in the example). Also, make sure that the public key is the file name of the private key plus .pub (for example, my_key.pub).

Start SSH and Secrets components of keyring daemon

If you are starting Gnome Keyring with a display manager or the Pam method described above and you are NOT using Gnome, Unity or Mate as your desktop you may find that the SSH and Secrets components are not being started automatically. You can fix this by copying the desktop files gnome-keyring-ssh.desktop and gnome-keyring-secrets.desktop from /etc/xdg/autostart/ to ~/.config/autostart/ and deleting the OnlyShowIn line.

$ cp /etc/xdg/autostart/{gnome-keyring-secrets.desktop,gnome-keyring-ssh.desktop} ~/.config/autostart/
$ sed -i '/^OnlyShowIn.*$/d' ~/.config/autostart/gnome-keyring-secrets.desktop
$ sed -i '/^OnlyShowIn.*$/d' ~/.config/autostart/gnome-keyring-ssh.desktop

Disable keyring daemon SSH component

In case if you run your own version of the SSH agent (e.g. ssh-agent), you need to disable the SSH component in GNOME keyring daemon:

 ln -sf /dev/null /etc/xdg/autostart/gnome-keyring-ssh.desktop

Then you need to logout to make the effect.

Tips and tricks

Integration with applications

Flushing passphrases

gnome-keyring-daemon -r -d

This command starts gnome-keyring-daemon, shutting down previously running instances.

GNOME Keyring and Git

The GNOME keyring is useful in conjuction with Git when you are pushing over HTTPS.

First install the package libgnome-keyring from the official repositories.

Next compile the helper:

$ cd /usr/share/git/credential/gnome-keyring
# make

Set Git up to use the helper:

$ git config --global credential.helper /usr/lib/git-core/git-credential-gnome-keyring

Next time you do a git push, you are asked to unlock your keyring, if not unlocked already.


Passwords are not remembered

If you get a password prompt every time you login, and you find that passwords are not saved, you might need to create/set a default keyring.

Ensure that the seahorse package is installed, open it ("Passwords and Keys" in system settings) and select View > By Keyring If there is no keyring in the left column (it will be marked with a lock icon), go to File > New > Password Keyring and give it a name. You will be asked to enter a password. If you do not give the keyring a password it will be unlocked automatically, even when using autologin, but passwords will not be stored securely. Finally, right-click on the keyring you just created and select "Set as default".

Known issues

Cannot handle ECDSA and Ed25519 keys

As of March 20, 2016, GNOME Keyring does not handle ECDSA[1] and Ed25519[2] keys. You can turn to other SSH agents if you need support for those.