OpenPGP Card

Zeljko Vrba zvrba at
Tue Sep 6 19:35:34 CEST 2005

Alon Bar-Lev wrote:
> When you raise this issue... It seems that PKCS#11 is not implemented not
> because of licensing problems... But because if PKCS#11 will be implemented
> then there will be no work to be done for each specific card...
But this strategy can, and <crystal_ball_mode> will </crystal_ball_mode>
backfire :) From personal experience, companies are much more likely to
choose a standard, interoperable solution (-> PKCS#11 -> X.509) than
paying for a proprietary[1] solution.

[1] In a sense that I can't describe exactly, OpenPGP card + GnuPG feels
more proprietary than any closed-source smart card with PKCS#11 driver
provided. The metric of 'proprietary-ness' would be in this case: the
number of different smart-cards and interfaces supported by GnuPG.

IMHO, the overall situation would get better for GnuPG and OpenPGP card
if someone wrote a GPL-compatible PKCS#11 driver for the OpenPGP card. Then:
a) OpenPGP cards can be used by other applications, not just GnuPG. (OK,
they can be used in other applications even now, but noone sane will
write card-specific code when they can use a high-level, universal API
like PKCS#11).
b) GnuPG switches to PKCS#11 and uses the GPL-compatible PKCS#11 for the
OpenPGP card. It doesn't even have to dynamically link to it.

As Alon did remark earlier, the general movement in the industry is
towards multi-purpose smart-cards. OpenPGP card currently doesn't fall
into this category.
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