Lost key -- retrieval possible?

David Shaw dshaw@jabberwocky.com
Sun Feb 9 04:52:46 2003

On Fri, Feb 07, 2003 at 12:38:35AM -0500, Nori Heikkinen wrote:
> hi,
> in moving files around between computers (frantically doing backups
> when i thought my hard drive was on the fritz), i seem to have
> corrupted or lost my private key.  i of course have no backup of the
> key, and failed to generate a revocation certificate (it will expire
> in a few months, though).  rather than just letting it die, though, i
> was hoping there was a way to recover it.
> i can't read anything encrypted to me, or sign or encrypt anything.
> when i try to (with mutt or on the command line), i get the error
> message:
> gpg: Ohhhh jeeee: ... this is a bug (getkey.c:2151:lookup)
> secmem usage: 1632/1632 bytes in 3/3 blocks of pool 1632/16384
> which seems to me exceedingly weird.

That is indeed weird.  That means you have something other than a
secret key mixed in with your secret key data.  It does look like

The first thing to try is to export and re-import the key - with a bit
of luck, the important parts of the key won't be corrupt.

  cp ~/.gnupg/secring.gpg ~/.gnupg/secring.backup
  gpg --export-secret-key nori > nori.gpg
  gpg --delete-secret-key nori
  gpg --import nori.gpg

If that does not help, then I need some more information.  What
happens when you do:

  gpg --no-comment --export-secret-key nori | gpg --list-packets

That will display the structure of your secret key.


   David Shaw  |  dshaw@jabberwocky.com  |  WWW http://www.jabberwocky.com/
   "There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX.
      We don't believe this to be a coincidence." - Jeremy S. Anderson