gpg-agent and allow-loopback-pinentry

Patrick Brunschwig patrick at
Mon Dec 29 15:47:08 CET 2014

On 29.12.14 10:56, Werner Koch wrote:
> On Sun, 28 Dec 2014 17:06, patrick at said:
>> problem is that it's difficult (and awkward) for an application that
>> wraps GnuPG to enable the loopback mode -- it requires to modify
>> gpg-agent.conf and restart gpg-agent.
> The reason why you need to enable the loopback mode is that this breaks
> a design goal of only allowing the gpg-agent (+scdaemon) to handle the
> private keys and the passphrases for it.  If a user does not want this
> protection he needs to explicitly disable it.
> I met Nico here at the 31C3 and we more or less agreed that we need to
> make it work by fixing the Mac pinentry and possible some other problems
> which arise on Windows.   That will be much easier than implementing the
> passphrase entry in each application and thereby confusing the user with
> different passphrase entry systems.

I'm very happy for gpg-agent and pinentry to handle passphrases for me
during normal operations.

However, I disagree with you and Nico concerning key creation. I think
it makes sense that the dialog presented to the user contains *all*
required data, including the passphrase. That's what users are used to
when registering for any service in almost all applications and on
almost all web sites. And I think it's sensible not to break with this,
as it will only confuse users.

Furthermore, it means that I have to differentiate in the GUI between
GnuPG 2.1.x and older versions. This is something I could avoid so far,
i.e. any difference between GnuPG versions could be handled in the
invisible core components.


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