question about the keys

Neil Williams linux at
Fri Feb 13 10:30:43 CET 2004

On Fri, Feb 13, 2004 at 09:00:58AM +0100, Markus Innerebner wrote:
> Hello,
> i have a question about public and private key:
> is it possible that public and private key have the same content

The content is complementary, not identical. The secret key must identify
itself as the other half of the corresponding public key so that might
give the impression that it is the same.

> when i tip:
> /C:\bin>gpg --list-key /
> and or
> /C:\bin>gpg --list-secret-key/
> it appears the same content except that at the begin appears
> /pub ......... in the public
> sec.......... in the private /

--list is only showing the basic summary information of the key, it's
not listing the actual contents of the keys. You could export the two
keys in ASCII armour to the console but that will only show you that the
two keys differ in size, depending on how many people have signed your
public key. 

That 'sec' is the critical difference. The rest of the list display is
concerned with identifying which 'sec' to use with which public key. 
Public and private act as a pair. 


Neil Williams
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