file extension confusion: --clearsign makes binary .asc

Hans-Christoph Steiner hans at
Thu Jul 25 19:31:21 CEST 2013

On 07/25/2013 01:17 PM, Werner Koch wrote:
> On Thu, 25 Jul 2013 18:32, hans at said:
>> base64-encoded binary data?  If so, I think that running "gpg --clearsign" on
>> a binary file should give a warning that its not a supported format.
> The question is what is a binary file?  It is hard for a machine to
> figure that out and Unix tradition does not distinguish between binary
> and plain text (in contrast to Windows).
>> gpg 1.4.11 and gpg2 2.0.17.  In both cases, the resulting file was not ASCII,
>> but the format I described: binary data and ASCII signature.  I attached the
> Sure.  If you don't want that you need to base64 encode the to be signed
> data first.

"less" does a pretty good job of figuring out what is a binary or not, and
issues its warning based on it.  I think something similar would make stuff
like this in gpg much less confusing.  It would allow gpg to add the file
extension that makes the most sense, and then in turn when people use that
file, the format will be better described by the file extension.

It may seem like a trivial issue to many, but its stuff like this that makes
PGP hard to use for most people.


PGP fingerprint: 5E61 C878 0F86 295C E17D  8677 9F0F E587 374B BE81

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