Page MenuHome GnuPG

Public part of a R4096(S)-Subkey lost when imported from an armored backup file.
Closed, ResolvedPublic


The public part of a R4096(S)-Subkey is skipped when its primary key together
with further subkeys is imported from an ASCII-armored PGP PRIVATE KEY BLOCK
backup file.

For the purpose of reproduction and further testing I attached the
"0x7526FBF74D4020B6_pwd=foo.sec.asc.txt" file to this issue.

This file contains the secret key material with 1 primary and 3 subkeys (R4096;
C,S,E,A). The passphrase is "foo".

When you change the expiry date of the R4096(A) subkey (key 3, expire,
e.g. 1, save), export the secret key in ASCII armored format (gpg
--armor --output 0x7526FBF74D4020B6.sec.asc.txt --export-secret-keys
0x7526FBF74D4020B6), purge it (gpg --delete-secret-and-public-keys
0x7526FBF74D4020B6) and re-import it (gpg --import
0x7526FBF74D4020B6.sec.asc.txt) the sign-only sub-RSA key is not
listed in the pubring.gpg file anymore but still in the secring.gpg

I observed this behavior with gpg Version 1.4.13 and 2.0.19.

If you make gpg's output more verbose with e.g. "gpg -v --status-fd 1 --import
missing_subkey.after.sec.asc" you get:

gpg: Schlüssel 0x4D4020B6: Ungültige Unterschlüssel-Anbindung
gpg: Schlüssel 0x4D4020B6: Unterschlüssel übersprungen

Sorry for the output in German. It says something similar to:

gpg: Schlüssel 0x4D4020B6: Invalid Subkey-Connection
gpg: Schlüssel 0x4D4020B6: Subkey skipped


1.4.13, 2.0.19

Event Timeline

I further tried to find the action that causes the potential bug with an another
test key as follows:

  1. Create a certify-only RSA4096 primary key.
  1. Store the public keyring with: (a) cp ~/.gnupg/pubring.gpg{,XXX}
  1. Export the secret key to an ASCII-armored file with: (a) gpg -v --status-fd 1 --armor --output --

export 0xEEE9979BE8C80E95

  1. Export the public key to an ASCII-armored file with: (a) gpg -v --status-fd 1 --armor --output --

export 0xB6BF97893ACA0C17

  1. Delete the public and secret key with: (a) gpg --delete-secret-and-public-keys 0xEEE9979BE8C80E95
  1. Import the secret key from an ASCII-armored file with: (a) gpg -v --status-fd 1 --armor --import 0xEEE9979BE8C80E95.sec.asc.txt
  1. Compare the previously stored public key against the new one with: (a) diff -q ~/.gnupg/pubring.gpg{,XXX}
  1. Repeat action 1. to 7. by: (a) Adding a sign-only RSA4096 subkey. (b) Adding a encrypt-only RSA4096 subkey. (c) Change the expiry date of the encrypt-only RSA4096 subkey.

ERROR: *Changing the expiry date*, exporting, purging, importing the primary key
with its 2 subkeys makes the first sign-only RSA4096 subkey disappear from the
pubring.gpg file but not from the secring.gpg file.

In order to work around this potential bug I do the following at the moment:

  1. Store: (a) Export the ASCII-armored *secret* key together with its subkeys. (b) Export the ASCII-armored *public* key together with its subkeys.
  1. Restore: (a) Import the ASCII-armored *public* key together with its subkeys. (b) Import the ASCII-armored *secret* key together with its subkeys.

The actions [1.(b)] and [2.(a)] should not be necessary if there was not this
potential bug.

This is caused by gpg inability of merging the secret keys. We can't fix that
in 1.4 or 2.0. 2.1 does not have this problem anymore.

werner claimed this task.
werner added a project: Won't Fix.