The number of lines of a key opened in a text-editor

Kaori Ari arikaori at
Tue Dec 15 22:45:43 CET 2009

Hi everybody,
I really don't know whether I'm asking a stupid question or not. It is about
the length of a Public Key of GnuPG. Such that:

When I open the back-up of a public key in a text editor (say "pkey.asc" in
Gedit), I see a long 'meaningless' text. It's OK. It is a perfectly
justified text (I don't know why and how) and I or the editor can count how
many lines there are.

The longer the key strength is, the more lines there are (I guess).  DSA
type has constant strength: 1024 bytes. El-Gamal is between 1024 and 4096

If El-Gamal is 1024 bytes, then the number of lines of its public key in a
text editor is around 25.
If El-Gamal is 4096 bytes, then it is around 40.

That is reasonable for me.

However, I have checked many public keys from the server ( and
found some exceptions. For example, one of the Debian maintainers' public
keys has El-Gamal 2048 bytes strength but has 340 lines (!!!?) when opened
in a text editor.

I've tried to obtain such a long key, but I couldn't.

The questions are:

- How can it be possible to obtain such a long text of a public key although
it has 2048 bytes strength or whatever?
- Is such a long text public key more secure than what we get regularly?

My apologies regarding possible mistakes in the language...

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