Daniel Doubrovkine bio photo

Daniel Doubrovkine

aka dB., @awscloud, former CTO @artsy, +@vestris, NYC

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Last week I joined the OpenSearch Team at AWS, a community-driven, open source fork of Elasticsearch and Kibana (read more about it here).

Security is always our top priority at AWS, so I had to learn some new development best practices in this area. One of my colleagues, and Apache contributor @nknize has been signing his commits with GPG. I decided to add my work e-mail address to my existing GPG key, and setup git signing as well.

Generating Keys

If you don’t already have a key, install gpg2 (e.g. brew install gpg), and follow the instructions in this doc. It will tell you to run gpg --full-generate-key.

You can list keys with gpg --list-secret-keys --keyid-format LONG and note the key ID.

gpg --list-secret-keys --keyid-format LONG
sec   rsa2048/75BF031B7C94E183 2013-12-24 [SC]
uid                 [ultimate] Daniel Doubrovkine <dblock[at]dblock.org>

In my example the key ID is 75BF031B7C94E183.

Backing up Keys

I export and store a copy of my GPG keys in Dropbox and store the private key passphrase in 1Password. The latter is required to export or import a private key (gpg will prompt you).

gpg --export-secret-key 75BF031B7C94E183 > 75BF031B7C94E183.gpg

Adding my Work E-Mail

I only have one identity, but multiple e-mails. I decided to add my work e-mail to my GPG key (YMMV) as explained here.

gpg --edit-key 75BF031B7C94E183

$ gpg> adduid

# follow prompts, finish with `save`

My key now has both my personal and work e-mail addresses.

$ gpg --list-secret-keys --keyid-format LONG
sec   rsa2048/75BF031B7C94E183 2013-12-24 [SC]
uid                 [ultimate] Daniel Doubrovkine <dblock[at]amazon.com>
uid                 [ultimate] Daniel Doubrovkine <dblock[at]dblock.org>
ssb   rsa2048/960955779E55310A 2013-12-24 [E]

I then exported the public key with gpg -a --export 3AA5C34371567BD2 and added it to my Github account.

Signing Git Commits

I wanted to enable commit signing globally to avoid having to constantly appenad -S to git commit, and added the following settings to my dotfiles.

# make GPG work
export GPG_TTY=$(tty)

# use my key to sign all commits
git config --global user.signingkey 75BF031B7C94E183
# automatically sign all commits
git config --global commit.gpgsign true

Checking it Out

Commit signatures appear in git log --show-signature.

~/source/dotfiles (master)$ git log --show-signature -1
commit 073adde3335182ce33625951c84a8431adea8256 (HEAD -> master, origin/master, origin/HEAD)
gpg: Signature made Thu Apr 15 18:19:41 2021 EDT
gpg:                using RSA key 4A720FE790B07A68744E371675BF031B7C94E183
gpg: Good signature from "Daniel Doubrovkine <dblock[at]amazon.com>" [ultimate]
gpg:                 aka "Daniel Doubrovkine <dblock[at]dblock.org>" [ultimate]
Author: dblock <dblock[at]amazon.com>
Date:   Thu Apr 15 18:19:41 2021 -0400

    Installing GPG keys.

And you can see a nice icon next to verified commits on GitHub!


Now, how do I get verified on Twitter?!


I find it annoying to have to re-enter the passphrase every few minutes. Put the following into ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf to set the timeout to a day’s worth.

default-cache-ttl 86400

Restart gpgagent with gpgconf --kill gpg-agent.

New Computer

Import the key on a new computer.

gpg --import ~/Dropbox/Personal/7C94E183.gpg
gpg --import-ownertrust < ~/Dropbox/Personal/7C94E183.trustlevel.txt
git config --global user.signingkey 75BF031B7C94E183
git config --global commit.gpgsign true

If you get an error gpg: no valid OpenPGP data found. and gpg: Total number processed: 0, this is a very obtuse way for GPG to tell you the that contents of the file you’re trying to import is invalid. In my case gpg --import ~/Dropbox/Personal/7C94E183.gpg was failing because the file was not synced to my local drive from Dropbox.


If you’re having trouble with gog, try echo "test" | gpg --clearsign to get a better error. If it complains that gpg-agent is not started, run gpgagent and correct any errors.