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16 November 2006, 14:17

GnuPG 2.0 encryption software ready

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GnuPG creator Werner Koch has released the new version 2.0 of the encryption software. The source package, initially prepared only for Linux and BSD systems, is available for download at the project home page. Install-ready binary packets are not yet available, since few distributions come with sufficiently current libraries as are necessary for the compilation.

The major new release represents the culmination of a progression away from the monolithic architecture of gpg in favour of a modular program bundle. Part of the configuration of what is now six independent components can be handled through a central configuration tool, gpgconf. The central administration of private keys and passphases is now conducted by the gpg-agent, which can for example be started as a daemon when the user logs in. Its compatibility with the ssh-agent is intended to allow close integration with the login service.

The gpgsm tool implements the current S/MIME standard for email encryption with X.509 certificates. The command line compatibility with gpg2 should help GPG-ready programs to support S/MIME with minimal time and effort. Certificate management and LDAP queries are handled by the separate dirmngr packet. Expanded SmartCard support through the scdaemon service and extensive documentation also bear mentioning.

There is no pressing need for an upgrade. Koch in fact claims that development of version 1 of GPG [ticker:uk_71731 will be continued]. Because version 2.0 installs and runs parallel to version 1 without conflict, users can feel free to take it for a test drive without any pressure. Yet only absolutely current or experimental Linux distributions provide sufficiently current libraries to make the software work, Fedora Core 6 being an example. This means that most users interested in GPG2 must first clear the relatively high hurdle of acquiring all of the required new libraries.

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