My public key block appears different on keyservers

David Shaw dshaw at
Thu Jul 2 14:48:00 CEST 2009

On Jul 2, 2009, at 8:36 AM, Matt Gantner wrote:

> I'm not terribly familiar PNG or GPG keys so bear with me.
> I am understanding your statement to be saying that the two keys are
> really the same asci text but the line breaks make them appear to be
> different.

No.  I'm saying that line breaks are one of many ways that they can  
look different.  On casual glance, it looked like that was the only  

> To test that I ran diff on the two keys and they are completely
> different text. Every line was different. So I am falling back to my
> theory that the key server software appears to make the public key
> different by the nature of its encoding when uploaded.
> I managed to set another computer up, with a second gpg identity. I
> encoded a message to my first identity using a public key from the
> gnupgp keyserver and was able to decrypt it successfully. So despite
> the variation in the asci text and length of the public key works.
> I am still curious however and wonder if anyone has a theory why these
> public keys change depending on the key server?

As I said, OpenPGP keys can be represented in many different but  
functionally equivalent, ways.  Different keyservers may choose  
different packet length types, etc.

To torture an analogy, it's like the difference between "10" and  
"ten".  They mean the same thing, but aren't literal matches for each  

There is no particular requirement that same key exported from two  
different servers match.  Forget keyservers in fact - there is no  
particular requirement that the key file you import to GPG is the same  
key file you get on export.  Like with the keyservers, it's the same  
key. It's just been rewritten.  Don't worry about it.  It's not a bug,  
and it's not a problem.


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