gpg: KEYTOCARD failed: Unusable secret key

Andrew Gallagher andrewg at
Tue Jul 26 15:54:04 CEST 2016

On 26/07/16 13:11, Felix E. Klee wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 1:22 PM, Andrew Gallagher <andrewg at>
> wrote:
>> What does it say when you run "gpg --list-secret-keys" on your local
>> machine now?
> *Without* the smart card reader connected, it says:

It shouldn't matter whether you have the card reader connected or not.
To get the state of your card, use "gpg --card-status".

>     # gpg –list-secret-keys
>     /ramdisk/pubring.kbx
>     --------------------
>     sec>  rsa4096 2016-07-26 [SC] [expires: …]
>           AFADB5A…
>           Card serial no. = …
>     uid           [ultimate] Felix …
>     ssb>  rsa4096 2016-07-26 [E] [expires: …]

The ">" means that the substance of the secret key has been moved to a
card; a stub remains to indicate where it went.

> Also I can export the private key:
>     # gpg --armor --export-secret-keys | wc -l
>     53
> So it seems to be still there, no?

That is probably just the stub that you've exported, not the actual key.
That would also explain why re-importing it doesn't help.


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