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Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

gpg-agent (1)


gpg-agent - Secret key management for GnuPG


gpg-agent [--homedir dir] [--options file] [options]
gpg-agent [--homedir dir] [--options file] [options] --server
gpg-agent  [--homedir  dir]  [--options  file] [options] --daemon [com-


GPG-AGENT(1)                   GNU Privacy Guard                  GPG-AGENT(1)

       gpg-agent - Secret key management for GnuPG

       gpg-agent [--homedir dir] [--options file] [options]
       gpg-agent [--homedir dir] [--options file] [options] --server
       gpg-agent  [--homedir  dir]  [--options  file] [options] --daemon [com-

       gpg-agent is a daemon to manage  secret  (private)  keys  independently
       from  any  protocol.  It is used as a backend for gpg and gpgsm as well
       as for a couple of other utilities.

       The usual way to run the agent is from the ~/.xsession file:

         eval $(gpg-agent --daemon)

       If you don't use an X server, you can also put this into  your  regular
       startup file ~/.profile or .bash_profile.  It is best not to run multi-
       ple instance of the gpg-agent, so you should make sure that only one is
       running: gpg-agent uses an environment variable to inform clients about
       the communication parameters. You can write the content of  this  envi-
       ronment  variable  to  a file so that you can test for a running agent.
       Here is an example using Bourne shell syntax:

         gpg-agent --daemon --enable-ssh-support \
                   --write-env-file "${HOME}/.gpg-agent-info"

       This code should only be run once per user session to initially fire up
       the agent.  In the example the optional support for the included Secure
       Shell agent is enabled and the information about the agent  is  written
       to  a file in the HOME directory.  Note that by running gpg-agent with-
       out arguments you may test whether an agent is already running; however
       such a test may lead to a race condition, thus it is not suggested.

       The second script needs to be run for each interactive session:

         if [ -f "${HOME}/.gpg-agent-info" ]; then
           . "${HOME}/.gpg-agent-info"
           export GPG_AGENT_INFO
           export SSH_AUTH_SOCK

       It  reads  the  data out of the file and exports the variables.  If you
       don't use Secure Shell, you don't need the last two export statements.

       You should always add the following lines to your .bashrc  or  whatever
       initialization file is used for all shell invocations:

         export GPG_TTY

       It is important that this environment variable always reflects the out-
       put of the tty command.  For W32 systems this option is not required.

       Please make sure that a proper  pinentry  program  has  been  installed
       under  the  default  filename  (which  is  system dependant) or use the
       option pinentry-program to specify the full name of that  program.   It
       is  often useful to install a symbolic link from the actual used pinen-
       try  (e.g.  `/usr/bin/pinentry-gtk')  to   the   expected   one   (e.g.

       Commands  are  not  distinguished from options except for the fact that
       only one command is allowed.

              Print the program version and licensing information.  Note  that
              you cannot abbreviate this command.


       -h     Print  a  usage message summarizing the most useful command-line
              options.  Note that you cannot abbreviate this command.

              Print a list of all available options and commands.   Note  that
              you cannot abbreviate this command.

              Run  in  server  mode  and  wait for commands on the stdin.  The
              default mode is to create  a  socket  and  listen  for  commands

       --daemon [command line]
              Start  the  gpg-agent  as  a daemon; that is, detach it from the
              console and run it in the background.  Because gpg-agent  prints
              out important information required for further use, a common way
              of invoking gpg-agent is: eval $(gpg-agent  --daemon)  to  setup
              the  environment  variables.   The  option  --write-env-file  is
              another way commonly used to do this.  Yet another way is creat-
              ing  a  new  process as a child of gpg-agent: gpg-agent --daemon
              /bin/sh.  This way you get a new shell with the environment set-
              up  properly;  if you exit from this shell, gpg-agent terminates
              as well.

       --options file
              Reads configuration from file instead of from the  default  per-
              user  configuration  file.   The  default  configuration file is
              named `gpg-agent.conf' and expected in  the  `.gnupg'  directory
              directly below the home directory of the user.

       --homedir dir
              Set the name of the home directory to dir. If this option is not
              used, the home directory defaults to  `~/.gnupg'.   It  is  only
              recognized  when  given  on the command line.  It also overrides
              any home  directory  stated  through  the  environment  variable
              `GNUPGHOME'  or  (on W32 systems) by means of the Registry entry


              Outputs additional information while running.  You can  increase
              the  verbosity by giving several verbose commands to gpgsm, such
              as '-vv'.


              Try to be as quiet as possible.

              Don't invoke a pinentry or do any other  thing  requiring  human

       --faked-system-time epoch
              This  option is only useful for testing; it sets the system time
              back or forth to epoch which is the number  of  seconds  elapsed
              since the year 1970.

       --debug-level level
              Select  the debug level for investigating problems. level may be
              a numeric value or a keyword:

              none   No debugging at all.  A value of less than 1 may be  used
                     instead of the keyword.

              basic  Some  basic  debug messages.  A value between 1 and 2 may
                     be used instead of the keyword.

                     More verbose debug messages.  A value between 3 and 5 may
                     be used instead of the keyword.

              expert Even more detailed messages.  A value between 6 and 8 may
                     be used instead of the keyword.

              guru   All of the debug messages you can get.  A  value  greater
                     than  8 may be used instead of the keyword.  The creation
                     of hash tracing files is only enabled if the  keyword  is

       How  these  messages  are  mapped  to the actual debugging flags is not
       specified and may change with newer releases of this program. They  are
       however carefully selected to best aid in debugging.

       --debug flags
              This  option  is only useful for debugging and the behaviour may
              change at any time without notice.  FLAGS are  bit  encoded  and
              may be given in usual C-Syntax. The currently defined bits are:

              0 (1)  X.509 or OpenPGP protocol related data

              1 (2)  values of big number integers

              2 (4)  low level crypto operations

              5 (32) memory allocation

              6 (64) caching

              7 (128)
                     show memory statistics.

              9 (512)
                     write hashed data to files named dbgmd-000*

              10 (1024)
                     trace Assuan protocol

              12 (4096)
                     bypass all certificate validation

              Same as --debug=0xffffffff

       --debug-wait n
              When  running in server mode, wait n seconds before entering the
              actual processing loop and print the pid.  This  gives  time  to
              attach a debugger.

              Don't  detach the process from the console.  This is mainly use-
              ful for debugging.




       --csh  Format the info output in daemon mode for use with the  standard
              Bourne  shell  or  the  C-shell respectively.  The default is to
              guess it based on the environment variable SHELL which  is  cor-
              rect in almost all cases.

       --write-env-file file
              Often  it is required to connect to the agent from a process not
              being an inferior of gpg-agent and thus the environment variable
              with the socket name is not available.  To help setting up those
              variables in other sessions, this option may be  used  to  write
              the information into file.  If file is not specified the default
              name `${HOME}/.gpg-agent-info' will  be  used.   The  format  is
              suitable  to  be evaluated by a Bourne shell like in this simple

         eval $(cat file)
         eval $(cut -d= -f 1 < file | xargs echo export)

              Tell the pinentry not to grab  the  keyboard  and  mouse.   This
              option  should  in  general  not  be  used  to  avoid X-sniffing

       --log-file file
              Append all logging output to file.  This is very helpful in see-
              ing  what  the agent actually does.  If neither a log file nor a
              log file descriptor has been set on a Windows platform, the Reg-
              istry  entry  HKCU\Software\GNU\GnuPG:DefaultLogFile, if set, is
              used to specify the logging output.

              Allow clients to mark keys as trusted, i.e. put  them  into  the
              `trustlist.txt' file.  This is by default not allowed to make it
              harder for users to inadvertently accept Root-CA keys.

              Tell Pinentry not to enable features which use an external cache
              for passphrases.

              Some  desktop environments prefer to unlock all credentials with
              one master password and may  have  installed  a  Pinentry  which
              employs an additional external cache to implement such a policy.
              By using this option the Pinentry is advised not to make use  of
              such  a  cache and instead always ask the user for the requested

              This option will let gpg-agent bypass the passphrase  cache  for
              all  signing  operation.   Note that there is also a per-session
              option to control this behaviour but this  command  line  option
              takes precedence.

       --default-cache-ttl n
              Set  the  time a cache entry is valid to n seconds.  The default
              is 600 seconds.

       --default-cache-ttl-ssh n
              Set the time a cache entry used for SSH keys is valid to n  sec-
              onds.  The default is 1800 seconds.

       --max-cache-ttl n
              Set the maximum time a cache entry is valid to n seconds.  After
              this time a cache entry will be expired  even  if  it  has  been
              accessed  recently  or has been set using gpg-preset-passphrase.
              The default is 2 hours (7200 seconds).

       --max-cache-ttl-ssh n
              Set the maximum time a cache entry used for SSH keys is valid to
              n  seconds.   After this time a cache entry will be expired even
              if it has been accessed recently or has been set using  gpg-pre-
              set-passphrase.  The default is 2 hours (7200 seconds).

              Enforce  the  passphrase constraints by not allowing the user to
              bypass them using the ``Take it anyway'' button.

       --min-passphrase-len n
              Set the minimal length of a passphrase.   When  entering  a  new
              passphrase  shorter than this value a warning will be displayed.
              Defaults to 8.

       --min-passphrase-nonalpha n
              Set the minimal number of digits or special characters  required
              in  a passphrase.  When entering a new passphrase with less than
              this number of digits or special characters a  warning  will  be
              displayed.  Defaults to 1.

       --check-passphrase-pattern file
              Check  the  passphrase  against the pattern given in file.  When
              entering a new passphrase matching one of these pattern a  warn-
              ing will be displayed. file should be an absolute filename.  The
              default is not to use any pattern file.

              Security note: It is known that checking a passphrase against  a
              list  of  pattern  or  even against a complete dictionary is not
              very effective to enforce good  passphrases.   Users  will  soon
              figure  up  ways to bypass such a policy.  A better policy is to
              educate users on good security behavior and optionally to run  a
              passphrase  cracker  regularly on all users passphrases to catch
              the very simple ones.

       --max-passphrase-days n
              Ask the user to change the passphrase  if  n  days  have  passed
              since  the  last  change.  With --enforce-passphrase-constraints
              set the user may not bypass this check.

              This option does nothing yet.

       --pinentry-program filename
              Use program filename as the PIN entry.  The default is installa-
              tion dependent.

       --pinentry-touch-file filename
              By default the filename of the socket gpg-agent is listening for
              requests is passed to Pinentry, so that it can touch  that  file
              before  exiting (it does this only in curses mode).  This option
              changes the file passed to Pinentry to  filename.   The  special
              name  /dev/null  may be used to completely disable this feature.
              Note that Pinentry will not  create  that  file,  it  will  only
              change the modification and access time.

       --scdaemon-program filename
              Use  program  filename  as the Smartcard daemon.  The default is
              installation dependent and can be shown with  the  gpgconf  com-

              Do  not  make  use  of  the  scdaemon tool.  This option has the
              effect of disabling the  ability  to  do  smartcard  operations.
              Note,  that  enabling  this  option  at runtime does not kill an
              already forked scdaemon.


              By enabling this option gpg-agent  will  listen  on  the  socket
              named `S.gpg-agent', located in the home directory, and not cre-
              ate a random socket below a temporary directory.  Tools connect-
              ing to gpg-agent should first try to connect to the socket given
              in environment variable GPG_AGENT_INFO and  then  fall  back  to
              this  socket.  This option may not be used if the home directory
              is mounted on a remote file system which does not  support  spe-
              cial  files  like  fifos or sockets.  Note, that --use-standard-
              socket is the default on Windows systems.  The  default  may  be
              changed  at  build  time.   It  is  possible  to test at runtime
              whether the agent has been configured for use with the  standard
              socket  by issuing the command gpg-agent --use-standard-socket-p
              which returns success if the standard  socket  option  has  been

       --display string

       --ttyname string

       --ttytype string

       --lc-ctype string

       --lc-messages string

       --xauthority string
              These options are used with the server mode to pass localization


              Ignore requests to change the current tty or X  window  system's
              DISPLAY  variable  respectively.   This  is  useful  to lock the
              pinentry to pop up at the tty or display you started the agent.


              Enable the OpenSSH Agent protocol.

              In this mode of operation, the agent does not only implement the
              gpg-agent  protocol, but also the agent protocol used by OpenSSH
              (through a separate socket).  Consequently, it should be  possi-
              ble  to  use the gpg-agent as a drop-in replacement for the well
              known ssh-agent.

              SSH Keys, which are to be used through the  agent,  need  to  be
              added  to  the  gpg-agent initially through the ssh-add utility.
              When a key is added, ssh-add will ask for the  password  of  the
              provided  key  file and send the unprotected key material to the
              agent; this causes the gpg-agent to ask for a passphrase,  which
              is  to be used for encrypting the newly received key and storing
              it in a gpg-agent specific directory.

              Once a key has been added to the gpg-agent this  way,  the  gpg-
              agent will be ready to use the key.

              Note:  in  case  the gpg-agent receives a signature request, the
              user might need to be prompted for a passphrase, which is neces-
              sary  for decrypting the stored key.  Since the ssh-agent proto-
              col does not contain a mechanism for telling the agent on  which
              display/terminal it is running, gpg-agent's ssh-support will use
              the TTY or X display  where  gpg-agent  has  been  started.   To
              switch  this  display  to the current one, the following command
              may be used:

         gpg-connect-agent updatestartuptty /bye

       Although all GnuPG components try to start  the  gpg-agent  as  needed,
       this  is  not  possible  for  the ssh support because ssh does not know
       about it.  Thus if no GnuPG tool which accesses the agent has been run,
       there  is no guarantee that ssh is abale to use gpg-agent for authenti-
       cation.  To fix this you may start gpg-agent if needed using this  sim-
       ple command:

         gpg-connect-agent /bye

       Adding the --verbose shows the progress of starting the agent.

       All  the long options may also be given in the configuration file after
       stripping off the two leading dashes.

       The usual way to invoke gpg-agent is

         $ eval $(gpg-agent --daemon)

       An alternative way is by replacing ssh-agent with  gpg-agent.   If  for
       example  ssh-agent  is  started as part of the Xsession initialization,
       you may simply replace ssh-agent by a script like:


         exec /usr/local/bin/gpg-agent --enable-ssh-support --daemon \
               --write-env-file ${HOME}/.gpg-agent-info "$@"

       and add something like (for Bourne shells)

           if [ -f "${HOME}/.gpg-agent-info" ]; then
             . "${HOME}/.gpg-agent-info"
             export GPG_AGENT_INFO
             export SSH_AUTH_SOCK

       to your shell initialization file (e.g. `~/.bashrc').

       There are a few configuration files needed for  the  operation  of  the
       agent.  By  default they may all be found in the current home directory
       (see: [option --homedir]).

                This is the standard configuration file read by gpg-agent on
                startup.  It may contain any valid long option; the leading
                two dashes may not be entered and the option may not be abbre-
                This file is also read after a SIGHUP however only a few
                options  will  actually have an effect.  This default name may
                changed on the command line (see: [option --options]).
                You should backup this file.

                This is the list of trusted  keys.   You  should  backup  this

                Comment  lines,  indicated  by a leading hash mark, as well as
                lines are ignored.  To mark a key as trusted you need to enter
                fingerprint  followed  by  a  space  and  a  capital letter S.
                may optionally be used to separate the bytes of a fingerprint;
                allows  to  cut  and  paste the fingerprint from a key listing
              output.  If
                the line is prefixed with a ! the key is explicitly marked as
                not trusted.

                Here is an example where two keys  are  marked  as  ultimately
                and one as not trusted:

                .RS 2
                # CN=Wurzel ZS 3,O=Intevation GmbH,C=DE
                A6935DD34EF3087973C706FC311AA2CCF733765B S

                # CN=PCA-1-Verwaltung-02/O=PKI-1-Verwaltung/C=DE
                DC:BD:69:25:48:BD:BB:7E:31:6E:BB:80:D3:00:80:35:D4:F8:A6:CD S

                # CN=Root-CA/O=Schlapphuete/L=Pullach/C=DE
                !14:56:98:D3:FE:9C:CA:5A:31:6E:BC:81:D3:11:4E:00:90:A3:44:C2 S

       Before entering a key into this file, you need to ensure its
       authenticity.  How to do this depends on your organisation; your
       administrator might have already entered those keys which are deemed
       trustworthy enough into this file.  Places where to look for the
       fingerprint of a root certificate are letters received from the CA or
       the website of the CA (after making 100% sure that this is indeed the
       website of that CA).  You may want to consider allowing interactive
       updates of this file by using the see: [option --allow-mark-trusted].
       This is however not as secure as maintaining this file manually.  It is
       even advisable to change the permissions to read-only so that this file
       can't be changed inadvertently.

       As a special feature a line include-default will include a global
       list of trusted certificates (e.g. `/etc/gnupg/trustlist.txt').
       This global list is also used if the local list is not available.

       It is possible to add further flags after the S for use by the

              relax  Relax checking of some root certificate requirements.  As of now this
                     flag allows the use of root certificates with a missing basicConstraints
                     attribute (despite that it is a MUST for CA certificates) and disables
                     CRL checking for the root certificate.

              cm     If validation of a certificate finally issued by a CA with this flag set
                     fails, try again using the chain validation model.

              This file is used when support for the secure shell agent protocol has
              been enabled (see: [option --enable-ssh-support]). Only keys present in
              this file are used in the SSH protocol.  You should backup this file.

              The ssh-add tool may be used to add new entries to this file;
              you may also add them manually.  Comment lines, indicated by a leading
              hash mark, as well as empty lines are ignored.  An entry starts with
              optional whitespace, followed by the keygrip of the key given as 40 hex
              digits, optionally followed by the caching TTL in seconds and another
              optional field for arbitrary flags.  A non-zero TTL overrides the global
              default as set by --default-cache-ttl-ssh.

              The only flag support is confirm.  If this flag is found for a
              key, each use of the key will pop up a pinentry to confirm the use of
              that key.  The flag is automatically set if a new key was loaded into
              gpg-agent using the option -c of the ssh-add

              The keygrip may be prefixed with a ! to disable an entry entry.

              The following example lists exactly one key.  Note that keys available
              through a OpenPGP smartcard in the active smartcard reader are
              implicitly added to this list; i.e. there is no need to list them.

                .RS 2
                # Key added on: 2011-07-20 20:38:46
                # Fingerprint:  5e:8d:c4:ad:e7:af:6e:27:8a:d6:13:e4:79:ad:0b:81
                34B62F25E277CF13D3C6BCEBFD3F85D08F0A864B 0 confirm


                This is the directory where gpg-agent stores the private keys.  Each
                key is stored in a file with the name made up of the keygrip and the
                suffix `key'.  You should backup all files in this directory
                and take great care to keep this backup closed away.

              Note that on larger installations, it is useful to put predefined
              files into the directory `/etc/skel/.gnupg/' so that newly created
              users start up with a working configuration.  For existing users the
              a small helper script is provided to create these files (see: [addgnupghome]).

       A  running  gpg-agent may be controlled by signals, i.e. using the kill
       command to send a signal to the process.

       Here is a list of supported signals:

       SIGHUP This signal flushes all cached passphrases and  if  the  program
              has  been  started  with a configuration file, the configuration
              file is read again.  Only certain options  are  honored:  quiet,
              verbose,  debug,  debug-all, debug-level, no-grab, pinentry-pro-
              gram, default-cache-ttl,  max-cache-ttl,  ignore-cache-for-sign-
              ing, no-allow-external-cache, allow-mark-trusted, disable-scdae-
              mon, and  disable-check-own-socket.   scdaemon-program  is  also
              supported but due to the current implementation, which calls the
              scdaemon only once, it is not of much use  unless  you  manually
              kill the scdaemon.

              Shuts  down the process but waits until all current requests are
              fulfilled.  If the process has received 3 of these  signals  and
              requests are still pending, a shutdown is forced.

       SIGINT Shuts down the process immediately.

              Dump internal information to the log file.

              This signal is used for internal purposes.

       See attributes(7) for descriptions of the following attributes:

       |Availability   | crypto/gnupg     |
       |Stability      | Uncommitted      |
       gpg2(1), gpgsm(1), gpg-connect-agent(1), scdaemon(1)

       The full documentation for this tool is maintained as a Texinfo manual.
       If GnuPG and the info program are properly installed at your site,  the

         info gnupg

       should  give  you access to the complete manual including a menu struc-
       ture and an index.

       This    software    was    built    from    source     available     at
       https://github.com/oracle/solaris-userland.    The  original  community
       source                was                downloaded                from

       Further information about this software can be found on the open source
       community website at http://www.gnupg.org/.

GnuPG 2.0.30                      2018-08-09                      GPG-AGENT(1)