I'm a bit frustrated by my Ubuntu (17.04) Setup with Enigmail 1.9.7/GPG 2.1.15. I think after changing from Ubuntu/Unity to Ubuntu GNOME (but I really don't know if that was the trigger), Enigmail stopped working: I can't decrypt incoming encrypted emails any more. I am not asked for my GPG key password, pinentry (despite generally working in tests) skips prompting for the password and gpg-agent just tells me that there was no password given.

Thunderbird/Enigmail tells me "Missing Passphrase", that's where I started. I then debugged the problem down as far as I could, using this link, the official Enigmail troubleshooting guide and many, many more links and guides.

  • I CAN sign mails (sent to myself as test), verifying them is no problem within Thunderbird.
  • I can send encrypted Mails to myself; the received Mail has a info from Enigmail that the passphrase is missing: screenshot

  • All the pinentry tests from the Enigmail troubleshooting guide are ok, I see the GNOME styled pinentry dialog.

  • My ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf contains a `use-agent' line (even if that is not needed any more in GPG 2.1)
  • My ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf contains a line pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-gnome3 - even pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry works here, as it automatically detects the DISPLAY/x11/GNOME it seems.

I've started a gpg-agent using gpg-agent --debug-level expert --daemon /bin/sh, logging all gpg agent activities, which outputs while trying to decrypt:

gpg-agent[22794]: DBG: chan_4 -> INQUIRE PINENTRY_LAUNCHED 22797
gpg-agent[22794]: DBG: chan_4 <- END
gpg-agent[22794]: DBG: error calling pinentry: No passphrase given <GPG Agent>
gpg-agent[22794]: failed to unprotect the secret key: No passphrase given
gpg-agent[22794]: failed to read the secret key
gpg-agent[22794]: command 'PKDECRYPT' failed: No passphrase given
gpg-agent[22794]: DBG: chan_4 -> ERR 67109041 No passphrase given <GPG Agent>
gpg-agent[22794]: DBG: chan_4 <- [eof]

If I save the encrypted mail to an eml file and do a gpg -d file.eml manually. Same result as before:

$ gpg -d FM.eml 
gpg: encrypted with 4096-bit RSA key, ID XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, created XXXX-XX-XX
      "Christian Gonzalez <xxxxxxx.xxxxxxxxx@xxxx.xxx>"
gpg: public key decryption failed: No passphrase given
gpg: decryption failed: No secret key

Editing ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf and removing the line


did help in the first place, but after a system restart, the old problem returned.

Does anyone have a hint for me?

Maybe it has to do with Ubuntu's "peculiarity" in using Gnome-Keyring as agent? Is that true?


I had the same issue.

I removed the default pinentry package, namely pinentry-gnome3, and installed pinentry-qt instead, and now enigma does prompt me for the pass. I hope it works for you.

  • To remove pinentry-gnome3, about 12 packages are removed and 43 installed (kinit kio kwalletmanager libgpgmepp6 libkf5attica5 libkf5completion-data libkf5completion5 libkf5crash5 libkf5dbusaddons-bin,...), even if pinentry-qt is installed before. This can't be serious.
    – nerdoc
    Sep 9 '17 at 14:21
  • I am no expert in this. I had the same issue where enigma stopped asking for a password and got the same log trace like you. It was just a random roll of dice for me but it did work. Sep 9 '17 at 19:19
  • But you removed pinentry-gnome3 first, and afterwords installed pinentry-qt? So you uninstalled a bunch of dependent packages?
    – nerdoc
    Sep 10 '17 at 19:43
  • Further, when I want to uninstall pinentry-gnome3, apt wants to install kinit kio kwalletmanager libgpgmepp6etc. as well !?!
    – nerdoc
    Sep 10 '17 at 19:44
  • I dont remember if that was the case for me. In anycase you can reinstall gnome3 if other pinentry does not work for you. Make sure to run gpgconf --kill gpg-agent to restart the agent before testing with the new pinentry. Sep 10 '17 at 23:08

I've added those lines to the ~/.xinitrc file and it works again:

if [ -d /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d ] ; then
        for f in /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/?*.sh ; do
                [ -x "$f" ] && . "$f"
        unset f
  • I'll test next time I have the problem. I reinstalled Ubuntu. Greets from Salzburg too.
    – nerdoc
    Jun 11 '18 at 11:15

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