Want to eliminate all keyring/password "help" in Gnome. Join me in my support group

Paul Johnson pauljohn32 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 06:16:52 UTC 2009

I'm an old Linux user and I do not want the constant hassle, I mean
help, of programs that remember my passwords.  If I went along with
the keyring philosophy, then I would forget the passwords due to
non-use and then I'd really be screwed.  I need to type that stuff
every few days or else I won't be able to do what I need to when I go
to different computers.

Here's one example of something I hate. ssh-askpass.

Since I installed Intrepid, this happens:   I open a terminal and type
"ssh my.site.com" then a new GTK  menu panel pops up and asks for a
passphrase to read a dsa pgp key that is completely unrelated to that
site. It asks about a key called id.dsa about which I have no memory.
I couldn't give it a passphrase even if I had one.  I just click
cancel and it closes that popup and I can type in my password.

I want that eliminated as soon as possible.  It is not as easy as it
seems.  It appears completely impossible to do with synaptic.
I see the ssh password helper comes along with a package called
ubuntu-desktop, so it is tough to get rid of it.

$ sudo dpkg --purge ssh-askpass-gnome
dpkg: dependency problems prevent removal of ssh-askpass-gnome:
 ubuntu-desktop depends on ssh-askpass-gnome.
dpkg: error processing ssh-askpass-gnome (--purge):
 dependency problems - not removing
Errors were encountered while processing:

$ sudo apt-get remove ssh-askpass-gnome
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following packages will be REMOVED:
  ssh-askpass-gnome ubuntu-desktop
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 2 to remove and 6 not upgraded.
After this operation, 258kB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? n


$ sudo dpkg --purge  --ignore-depends=ssh-askpass-gnome ssh-askpass-gnome
(Reading database ... 276211 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing ssh-askpass-gnome ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...

Whew, that got it.  But now I have a broken package alert all the
time. There's a big ugly red warning in the notification bar that
should be telling me about new pacakges I need.   And every time I
open the package updater, it tries to reinstall ssh-askpass-gnome.
Every darned time. And, guess what.  apt-get upgrade doesn't work any
more either.  It is constantly obsessed with the fact that I removed
ssh-askpass-gnome. Oh, well.

It looks like I'm going to have to get the source for the
ubuntu-desktop and remove the dependency it puts in.  I suppose I may
be able to dispense with buntu-desktop altogether after I read it to
see what it does. PITA.

Now, what can I do about nm-applet?  I see a lot of posts complaining
about this one.

Every time Gnome starts, nm-applet pops up asking me for a password to
unlock the default key ring.  By that point, I have already given a
password to log into  my computer.  That is sufficient security for
me.  If I have WEP keys in a file in my account, it is OK with me if
nm-applet uses those keys.  What security am I getting by password
protecting a WEP key?  If somebody gets my computer and hacks my
account so they can log in, I've got much more massively horribly
worse problems than the danger that they might use my wireless router.
 Holy cow.  What am I missing?  If somebody uses my router, isn't that
just about the least worrisome part of being hacked?  What am I

I've followed the simplest strategy that people recommend: delete the
default gnome keyring and  then log in again.  nm-applet asks for the
WEP key, and after that, I get 5 or 10 logins before it asks me for a
passphrase again.

I've read hundreds of posts and googled my mouse to the bone (ouch!).
I find plenty of help about how I can more completely go along with
the keyring approach or live with it with less aggravation.  I find no
help at all to help me rip it out at the roots so I never have to mess
with it again.


Paul E. Johnson
Professor, Political Science
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
University of Kansas

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