This page should contain all the necessary information to make the OpenPGP smartcard playing nicely on Debian.


The OpenPGP smartcard was conceived by g10 Code, the main group behind GnuPG development. It is worldwide and primarily distributed by the German company Kernel Concepts. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) donates a customized version of the OpenPGP smartcard to all new members, calling it the Fellowship crypto card.

Please check the buying page if you plan to buy it.

In 2012, alternative free software implementation of USB Token has been released. That's Gnuk, which conforms to OpenPGPcard specification 2.0. It only supports RSA 2048-bit keys, but it works great. It takes about 1.5sec to make a signature. Please see FST-01 WiKi for hardware product information.

Setting up PGP and smartcards manually requires many steps. The PGP master key and smartcard environment can be managed conveniently and securely, without using the command line, using the Clean Room Live CD image


Please refer to the upstream page for a complete list.


Here some links to relevant discussions about the OpenPGP smartcard.


Different third parties provide instructions to set up your operating system (not only Debian or GNU/Linux) for the OpenPGP smartcard. However, the following links are provided as information only, whenever it's possible please follow the Debian-specific instructions.



In theory, any smartcard reader from this list should work.

Real life experiences and reports are welcomed!

GnuPG requirements

The OpenPGP smartcard is supported by both GnuPG 1.x (starting from version 1.4.0) and GnuPG 2.x.

Explain the various packages needed with one version or the other.

Key Generation

1) generate a key if you don't have one
2) initialise the smartcard to reflect the key owner
     $ gpg --card-edit
3) add the authentication and signature card subkeys (in this order, the signature key is just for signing, so no backup needed and the authentication key can AFAIK only be generated on the card)
     $ gpg --edit-key $KEYID
       command> addcardkey [authentication]
       command> addcardkey [signature]
4) add an encryption subkey
     $ gpg --edit-key $KEYID
       command> addkey
5) backup the whole key!!!
6) move the encryption key above to the card
     $ gpg --edit-key $KEYID
       command> key $NUMBER [select the encryption key above]
       command> keytocard
7) remove your main encryption key

Software interaction

Describe here how to configure other software for the OpenPGP smartcard.


gnome-keyring-daemon breaks smartcard access. To resolve this for a current session, use

For Mate Desktop in Jessie, gnome keyring has to be disabled using dconf-editor changing the key org/mate/desktop/session/gnome-compat-startup to ['smproxy']


Check these instructions (section "Authenticating with SSH logins") and report here.


Check these instructions (sections "Configure Poldi" and "Configure PAM") and report here.

I couldn't find anything on there about PAM, but using this site works fine for me (using openbox and GDM).


Check if you want to use your OpenPGP card in a PKCS#11 application like Firefox/Iceweasel or Thunderbird/Icedove.


Check if you want to use any PKCS#11 provider with GnuPG. You will then NOT use the OpenPGP card but any card supported by a PKCS#11 token like OpenSC.


This document is licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 2 or (at your option) any later version.

CategoryHardware CategoryOpenPGP