Posts Tagged ‘keyring’

NetworkManager and password changes

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Last week I changed passphrases (long overdue, I should really know better) which included the user passphrase on my netbook.

Today I attempted to connect to my encrypted WLAN at home, which prompted me with a cryptic password prompt telling me that “Network Manager Applet (nm-applet) wants access to the default keyring but it is locked”.

To my knowledge, the only two keyrings I’ve ever set any passphrase to is to GPG and SSH, and none of those to passphrases (old or new) worked. I was stumped. What other password/passphrase could they mean? What “default keyring”?

I was fairly certain that this was not a case of me setting a passphrase only to never use it and thus forget it, so I started getting a chilling feeling that I might have corrupted files on the disk.

Luckily my google-fu was with me and I found this post, which made everything clear.

What happened was simply that when I changed the passphrase for my user, this change didn’t propagate to the “default keyring” storing network passphrases, so the password for the default keyring was still set to the old user passphrase (which I didn’t try, since I didn’t even consider them being the same)

Honestly, although it is of course a VERY GOOD idea to encrypt such data, I can’t say that it was smart of the developers to “magically” set the default keyring password to the same as the system users (at least without notifying the user about this), or alternatively, to not have it updated along with the system user password…

If you have magic in one place you need to make sure the magic persists all the way, otherwise you just end up with a confused user.

The reason I did not immediately connect the dots between user passphrase change and default keyring password prompt was simply that almost an entire week had passed before I ran into problems (I guess the only secured network I ever connect to is my own, and I obviously haven’t used it in that time…)

Anyway, what finally worked for me (as outlined in the link above) was:

  1. Start “seahorse”
  2. Goto “Passwords” tab
  3. Right-click on “Passwords: login”, chose “Change password”
  4. Enter old system user password, and (preferably) the new system user password (unless you want to be pestered with the default keyring locked password prompt every time you connect to a secured network)

User-friendly magic is cool, undocumented magic… not so much :(