Recovering private keys in a friend's GPG installation

Andrew Engelbrecht andrew at
Mon Sep 21 18:58:54 CEST 2020

Hello GnuPG mailing list,

A friend of mine is running into issues with restoring their private
keys after a botched system upgrade. While I don't have details of what
exactly went wrong, they do have 3 keys in:


~/.gnupg/secring.gpg is empy, and their backups don't have any private
keys in them.

I asked them to run commands on both gpg and gpg2 commands in Trisquel
8, which is based off of Ubuntu 16.04, however, neither gpg
--list-secret-keys nor gpg2 show any private keys.

I asked them to cross-import public keys from both the gpg and gpg2
public keys exports, and checked to make sure that their public key is
installed in their public keyring. We tried touching
~/.gnupg/.gpg-v21-migrated , and all permissions look correct.
Unfortunately, none of these methods have imported / activated the
private keys.

My best guess is that these 3 keys are associated with some older
private keys, and were merely left behind. If there is a way to check
the fingerprint of the keys they belong to, and to import them, that
would be super helpful. Is there a way to do that?

Thanks, : )

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