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#216 in Command line utilities

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rsop is a "Stateless OpenPGP" CLI tool. It exposes a simple, standardized CLI interface to perform a set of common OpenPGP operations.

rsop natively supports operations using OpenPGP card devices. It is based on a stack of rpgp and rpgpie 🦀️🔐🥧 (and the rpgpie-sop adapter library).

Stateless OpenPGP Command Line Interface

The stateless OpenPGP command line interface (SOP) is an implementation-agnostic standard for handling OpenPGP messages and key material.

Stateless OpenPGP tools - such as rsop - are well suited for use in scripting use cases.

For more background and details about SOP, see https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-dkg-openpgp-stateless-cli/.

Example rsop run

rsop can be built and installed from the Rust source code with cargo:

$ cargo install rsop

Alternatively, you can check for rsop in your system's packages. It is available for Arch Linux.

Once installed, you can use the rsop binary, for example to generate a new key and issue a signature with it:

$ rsop generate-key "<alice@example.org>" > alice.pgp
$ echo "hello world" | rsop inline-sign alice.pgp


Running from checked out sources

Alternatively, you can run rsop directly from this repository:

$ cargo run -- generate-key "<alice@example.org>"

OpenPGP card support

rsop natively supports use of secret key material on OpenPGP card devices.

User PIN

OpenPGP card devices require a User PIN to perform cryptographic operations. rsop uses the openpgp-card-state library for User PIN handling.

This means the User PIN must be available to rsop via one of the backends supported by openpgp-card-state.

Example test run

To demonstrate use of rsop with an OpenPGP card, we'll perform a demonstration run here. For this demonstration we'll start with a spare card that we can overwrite.

In addition to rsop, this example run uses the oct tool from the openpgp-card-tools crate to provision our OpenPGP card.

Generating a test key

First, we generate a new private key for our test user, Alice. We use the file extension .tsk to signify that the file contains a Transferable Secret Key.

$ rsop generate-key "<alice@example.org>" > alice.tsk

Then, we extract a certificate representation from the TSK file. That is, we generate an equivalent "public key" for Alice, which omits the private key material. We store the certificate with the file extension .cert:

$ rsop extract-cert < alice.tsk > alice.cert

Setting up our OpenPGP card for testing

Now, we plug in our test OpenPGP card and check its identity:

$ oct list
Available OpenPGP cards:

The card we're using in this example has the identity FFFE:57011137 (this card contains no keys that we care about, so we are happy to use it. The following step entirely overwrites the card's contents!)

So first, we'll factory-reset the card, to start from a blank slate. This command removes any key material from the card, and resets the User and Admin PIN to their default values:

$ oct system factory-reset --card FFFE:57011137
Resetting Card FFFE:57011137

Now we import Alice's key material onto our test-card:

$ oct admin --card FFFE:57011137 import alice.tsk
Enter Admin PIN:

The default Admin PIN on most OpenPGP card devices is 12345678. We entered this PIN at the prompt above.

We can have a look at the newly imported key material on the card, now:

$ oct status
OpenPGP card FFFE:57011137 (card version 2.0)

Signature key:
  Fingerprint: 26FD 6C05 D8AB 6D9A 7A27  A5CA DB2E 1E31 FB8E 9EA7
  Creation Time: 2024-04-08 16:26:54 UTC
  Algorithm: Ed25519 (EdDSA)
  Signatures made: 0

Decryption key:
  Fingerprint: 4B8D 7AE1 D4DE 65CE F0A8  4D2E A60A B338 5999 2476
  Creation Time: 2024-04-08 16:26:54 UTC
  Algorithm: Cv25519 (ECDH)

Authentication key:
  Fingerprint: [unset]
  Algorithm: RSA 2048 [e 32]

Remaining PIN attempts: User: 3, Admin: 3, Reset Code: 3

Configuring the User PIN for this card on our host

Now we need to store the User PIN for our test card in a mechanism that openpgp-card-state can access. For this test, we'll just store the User PIN in a plain text config file. The easiest way to store the User PIN is to add the following content to the openpgp-card-state config file (you need to adjust the value for ident to reflect your own card's identity, if you're playing along at home):

ident = "FFFE:57011137"

Direct = "123456"

Note that after the factory-reset above, the User PIN of cards is typically 123456. For this test run, we don't change the User PIN (this is obviously not good practice for production cards), and just store this User PIN value in the openpgp-card-state configuration file (using the "Direct" PIN storage backend, which means the PIN is stored directly in the config file, as plain text).

On Linux systems the openpgp-card-state config file is typically located in ~/.config/openpgp-card-state/config.toml. It can be changed with any editor.

When using an OpenPGP card in production, with valuable key material on it, you might want to consider using a different PIN storage backend. See the documentation for openpgp-card-state for more details about this.

Decryption on the card

We have now completed provisioning our card. In this example we will use the key material on the card to decrypt a message that was encrypted to Alice's certificate.

So first, we encrypt a message to Alice. To do this, we use Alice's public key material, from Alice's certificate alice.cert:

$ echo "hello alice" | rsop encrypt alice.cert > alice.msg

Now, we can decrypt the message based on just the public key material for Alice. Notice that we're giving rsop the certificate file alice.cert:

$ cat alice.msg | rsop decrypt alice.cert
hello alice

Note that without using an OpenPGP card, this would not work! For software key-based operation decryption needs the private key material from alice.tsk.

When using rsop to perform private key operations on an OpenPGP card (that is: decryption or signing), a number of things happen in the background:

  • All OpenPGP cards that are plugged into your system are enumerated.
  • rsop checks if any of the cards contains the private key material that matches the subkey in alice.cert that is relevant to the operation.
  • Once a card with suitable key material is found, rsop uses that card's identifier to look up the card's User PIN via the openpgp-card-state configuration (note that the PIN can be stored in different backends, which use different storage mechanisms and provide different security guarantees).
  • If the user PIN is stored via openpgp-card-state, rsop obtains it.
  • The User PIN is presented to the card for verification. This authorizes the requested cryptographic operation.
  • The cryptographic operation is performed on the card.

Signing on the card

Analogously, it's possible to produce a cryptographic signature with an OpenPGP card, using rsop:

$ echo "hello world" | rsop inline-sign alice.cert  > sig.alice

Note that, as above, the public key data in alice.cert is not by itself sufficient to issue a signature. As above for decryption, rsop searches for an OpenPGP card device that contains the private signing key material which corresponds to the signing subkey in alice.cert, and asks the card to issue a signature with that key.

Once produced, anyone can verify this signature as usual, by checking its validity against Alice's public key material in the certificate alice.cert:

$ cat sig.alice | rsop inline-verify alice.cert
hello world

OpenPGP interoperability test suite

rsop is included in the OpenPGP interoperability test suite, which tests the features of implementations, adherence to expectations, as well as interoperation between a large set of implementations.

Rust SOP interface

The rsop CLI tool is built using the excellent https://crates.io/crates/sop framework. The rsop binary is trivially derived from rpgpie-sop.


The (trivial) code of rsop is CC0 licensed.

Note, however, that when building a binary package from it, the binary's license is (of course) dictated by the licenses of its dependencies.

Warning, early-stage project!

rsop and rpgpie are currently in an experimental, early development stage and are NOT yet intended for production use.


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