secret key (not) available

Telandor ricowidmer at
Mon Dec 18 10:10:32 CET 2006


Thank you for your fast answer!

First of all, 2 of three of my files work now. Although I don't really know
what I have done.
I tiped once "gpg --home" (thank you Gou Yang) and then gpg created a file
secring.gpg or so. Is this possible?
Are the keys user specified? I remember that I had created the files and
keys with another user than I tried to decrypt them.

I had not exported my secret keys, I had not generated a key by "gpg
--gen-key" and I have no idea if I had encrypted the files symmetrically or
asymetrically. I had typed "gpg -e filename".

The files I have (by the way I use Windows XP) in my application data folder


gpg -K now shows some keys.

Well, thank you again for your help.
If you have another idea for my third file please let me know.
But it would be ok if you did not write an answer. It is not sooo important.

Have a nice day!

Henry Hertz Hobbit wrote:
> On Wed, 2006-12-13 at 01:24 -0800, ricowidmer at  wrote:
>> Hallo everybody
>> I use GPG 1.4.4 and have encrypted a txt-file on computer A.
> Encrypted how, symmetrically, or asymmetrically?
>> I put this encrypted txt-file to computer B and wanted to decrypt
>> it there. Then computer B said "secret key not available".
>> So I exported my keys from computer A and imported them in
>> computer B.
> How did you export them?
> gpg -a --export YOURKEYID > yourkey.asc
> # or
> gpg -a --export-secret-keys YOURKEYID > yoursecretkey.asc
> The first just exports your public key.  The second exports both
> your public and your secret key of the keypair.  The import should
> go without a hitch for either one, but their won't be a secret key
> if you use the first. If you encrypted only symmetrically it won't
> have any effect.
>> But the error remained. So I copied the encrypted txt-file back to
>> computer A and wanted to decrypt it there. But there was the same
>> error! gpg --list-keys didn't even show any keys on computer A.
> Can you do a:
> cd ; cd .gnupg
> on machine A?  If you can, then after that do a:
> ls -l
> You should at least see the following files:
> gpg.conf
> pubring.gpg
> pubring.gpg~
> random_seed
> secring.gpg
> trustdb.gpg
> Also do it on machine B.  If they aren't there,
> then make sure you specify WHERE they are at (and
> find where they are at.  If you have to (disk and
> CPU intensive):
> find / -name secring.gpg -print 2> /dev/null
>> So I exported the keys from computer B and imported them on
>> computer A. Where they were actually created. But it still
>> didn't work.
> Again, can you see the secret keys on machine B, e.g.:
> gpg --K
>> I have another file encrypted with gpg on computer A and I
>> can decrypt this file.
>> gpg -K does not show any keys (!?)
> Was this file encrypted with symmetric or asymmetric
> encryption?
> Symmetric example:
> ------------------
> gpg -a -c --force-mdc --cipher-algo ${CIPHER} < INFILE > OUTFILE
> Asymmetric example:
> -------------------
>> I hope this problem is not too confusing.
>> Thank you very much for your effort!
> The only thing confusing is just what you have, how you are doing
> the encryption (symmetric or asymmetric), whether you have any
> keys at all (I am assuming you did a gpg --gen-key before the
> start of all this), etc.  It IS possible to do a symmetric
> encryption without any keys at all (although gpg WILL create an
> empty pubring.gpg file).
> 1. I suspect you are NOT encrypting the first file with
>    symmetric encryption, but are doing it with the second file
>    (the one you can decrypt on machine A).  Copy the second file
>    to machine B and decrypt it.
> 2. Since the first file is probably being encrypted with asymmetric
>    encryption, I suggest you are encrypting it with the public
>    key, but don't have the secret key.  The only person that can
>    decrypt the file that was encrypted is the one that has the
>    secret key that corresponds to the public key that was used.
> If when you do a "gpg -K" on both machines and no keys show up,
> then you have NO secret keys.  Are you sure you did a
> "gpg --gen-key" at the start of all this?  On the other hand,
> if you do a gpg --list-keys and the public key you are using
> is there, then it is totally understandable that if you are
> using asymmetric encryption that you can encrypt the file
> but not decrypt it.
> Did that help or am *I* missing something?  If I did miss
> something then please fill us in.  If you generated the key
> pair (public / secret)  it is hignly possible your
> ~/.gnupg/secring.gpg file has been damaged, which is exactly
> what is going through my mind right now.
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