Notes from the first OpenPGP Summit

Werner Koch wk at
Sun Apr 26 20:31:18 CEST 2015


find below a text version of 

1 Notes from the first OpenPGP Summit

  On April 18/19 a bunch of OpenPGP folks met in Dreieich near Frankfurt
  to get to know themselves better and exchange experience in
  implementing and deploying OpenPGP based applications.

  During one of the meetings of our local group of regulars at the
  [Chaosdorf], I talked with Nico from Enigmail about the idea to get
  the few GnuPG frontend authors together for an informal meeting.  We
  agreed that this is would be useful and we decided to go for it in
  spring.  Due to the attention GnuPG received during the following
  [31C3] it turned out that the planned GPG meeting would grow to an
  OpenPGP summit with about 30 attendees.  We even had to reject several
  requests to join the meeting due to limited space and time constraints
  to prepare a larger meeting.  [Nico] took care of the organization and
  I am really glad that he kept me clear of this task.  Thanks.

  Our host was [Giegerich & Partner], an IT security company which does
  a proprietary Outlook plugin based on GnuPG.  Their local organization
  was excellent including snacks, beverages, a great self-made dinner,
  and shuttle service to the hotel and the airport.  Network access also
  worked flawlessly after having signed that usual German
  [Störerhaftung] disclaimer.  Thanks guys.

  After a welcome on Saturday morning from Nico and our host, I quickly
  explained the planned release schedule for GnuPG and explained a less
  known feature of GPA and Kleoptra, the [UI-Server].  We then started
  the presentations of the projects present: [Gpg4win], [Enigmail],
  Gpg4o, r2mail2, [OpenKeychain,] [GPG Tools], [Pixelated], [Whiteout],
  [Mailvelope,] [Mailpile], [End-to-end], [CaliOpen], and [Debian].

  It was really interesting to learn first hand about the rich
  environment around the OpenPGP protocol.  Although most developers
  knew about each other it was the first time they all came together to
  present their projects to their peers.  About half of the projects are
  using GnuPG as their backend engine with the others using one of the
  Javascript implementations for their OpenPGP core.

  The presentations answered a lot of questions but raised others which
  were discussed during the breaks and the wine and beer track in the
  evening.  Important topics were identified and put on the agenda for

  One of these topics was the question whether to use PGP/MIME or to
  create a new format; with about the half of the group in favor of
  PGP/MIME.  It seems that some often used MUAs (mailers) have somewhat
  limited support even for regular MIME despite that this is a 22 years
  old and matured standard.  In particular webmail applications are
  quite limited in their MIME handling.  They have the easiest way to
  roll out fixed versions, though.  As usual I got into long debates
  with Bjarni from Mailpile on this.  This discussion was continued on
  Sunday in working groups on meta data encryption and encrypted search.

  Another topic was key distribution.  I decided not to join the
  respective working group on Sunday because this will be a too large
  topic for short working group.  During the Saturday presentations it
  became clear that the more centralized projects, like Whiteout and
  Google’s end-to-end, can more or less sidestep that problem due to the
  better control they have on the mail accounts.  The presentation from
  the End-to-end project was nevertheless interesting and probably
  sparked a few idea.

  Mobile clients are a primary, or even the only, target for most
  projects and thus discussions revolved around issues like reducing the
  amount of data to download from IMAP servers but still be able to show
  summaries of the mail content after decryption; or on how to
  efficiently and securely search through encrypted mails stored on a
  remote site.

  It would be quite useful to publish the results from the Sunday
  working groups as well as the group picture.  However they have not
  yet been collected; see below for updates.

  I appreciated the opportunity to meet the GPG Tools developers, who
  are very dedicated to make GnuPG working well on OS X.  I stressed the
  importance to actively participate on the GnuPG mailing list to keep
  information in sync.  One example may illustrate this: For years the
  adaption of GnuPG-2 on GNOME based systems has been hampered by the
  fact that the gnome-keyring-manager (GKR) tries to emulate gpg-agent
  and thus inhibits proper working of any advanced function of GnuPG
  (e.g. smartcards and gpgsm).  With Debian’s release of Jessie that
  problem will even be worse due to other desktop environments now also
  using GKR.  Given that the GKR developers are not willing to change
  their defaults, Neal, dkg, and me came up with a pragmatic solution
  for this problem on Saturday morning.  Surprisingly we learned in the
  evening that GPG Tools long ago came up with a very similar solution
  on how to integrate GnuPG into the OS X keychain.

  To comply with crypto geek tradition the meeting ended with a key
  signing party using fingerprints collected in a shared file, comparing
  its sha1sum ^W sha256sum locally, and publicly confirming the
  correctness of ones own key.  Some had to rush for the airport or
  train station and thus not all keys could be checked.

  Overall it was a successful meeting and it should be repeated to
  extend our discussions on the mailing lists in a conference setting.
  I do not want end these notes without remarking that I am a bit
  disappointed that many of the participants favored this closed
  invitation-only style summit and want the next meeting to happen the
  same way.  I would actually like to have an open OpenPGP meeting with
  a stronger emphasis on Free Software and a clear anti-surveillance

  [Giegerich & Partner]
  [GPG Tools]

2 Minutes from the working groups

  /[If you have something to publish, please send it to me for
    publication at this place.  CC-by-SA please.]/

Die Gedanken sind frei.  Ausnahmen regelt ein Bundesgesetz.

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