Setting up GPG for Emacs

I know, everybody hates GPG these days (and for good reasons), but I’ve been looking at the Emacs bug database and getting annoyed with all the SMIME etc bugs that aren’t getting fixed, and thought I should do something about it.

I last used GPG in the nineties, and I’ve forgotten everything I possibly could have know about it, so I thought I, as a complete born-again novice, would be in a good position to write a how to set it up, so I started with

rm -r ~/.gnupg

and then

gpg --gen-key

and I then got to

What… century… is… this.

On my laptop, it stayed that way for ten minutes, until it got enough entropy, because /dev/urandom is obviously too insecure.


And then I got:

gpg: agent_genkey failed: No such file or directory
Key generation failed: No such file or directory

Which after some Duckgoing is because I removed the .gnupg directory, and the gpg agent doesn’t understand that, and gpg of course didn’t say anything about this until after collecting entropy for ten minutes.

So did I have a gpg agent running?

Err… apparently? About five hundred?

None of the recommended ways of restarting the agent worked (presumably because the .gnupg directory was removed, which makes sense), so I just

pkill gpg-agent

and went through creating the key again, and waited another ten minutes, and then everything was created, even the revocation certificate, which all the recipes on the Interweb says I have to create by hand?

Who knows.

Anyway, then interweb recipes say I should send the key to a key
server, like:

gpg --keyserver --send-keys 29AEBB3

and then gpg helpfully says:

larsi@marnie:~$ gpg --keyserver --send-keys 29AEBB3DDF5E83147CB9EC61EE84A168D288B04F
gpg: sending key EE84A168D288B04F to hkp://
gpg: keyserver send failed: No name
gpg: keyserver send failed: No name

“No name.”

What could that mean? No name? In the key? Didn’t I enter my name there? No, it turns out that the “” domain name doesn’t resolve. Which the error message could have said, you’d think? No?

It’s “”. After which the command apparently works, because there’s no feedback, which is the universal way to say “yes, that worked”, I guess?

OK, now everything is set up, so I just have to figure out how to use it on the Gnus/Message side, I think?

How about if I test with a

C-c C-m C-c

and I get a

It worked! I sent an encrypted message! To myself! And Gnus decrypted it automatically, and Emacs used the gpg agent so I didn’t have to type the passphrase a billion times.

Hey, now I’m totally qualified to finally have a look at the SMIME bug reports.

2 thoughts on “Setting up GPG for Emacs”

  1. Yeah, every year I have to deal with GPG upon expiration of my keys and also its wierd error messages: “No name!!!” In my case the “–keyserver” hat to appear before “–send-key”, otherwise it would not work. (apparently everything after –sendkey(s) is considered a keyi id).

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