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GnuPG for RISC OS lets you have Pretty Good Privacy 5

By Chris Williams. Published: 21st May 09:30:43 | Permalink | Printable

When transfering sensitive information over the internet you might decide that you need a higher level of security than normal. Encrypting your data prevents unwanted people from intercepting your data, viewing or modifying it. PGP is an exceptionally strong and internationally recognised encryption system. However, the IDEA algorithm used in PGP has been patented, this in turn restricts what a normal user can use PGP for. To get around this Stefon Bellon has ported open sourced GnuPG to RISC OS, an unrestricted and free replacement for PGP. GnuPG is a RFC2440 (OpenPGP) compliant application.

GnuPG is a command line utility, accessible from the task window or the * prompt. Stefan is looking for someone to give GnuPG a multitasking desktop frontend, if you think you can help then please get in touch with him. Version 1.0.5 includes but not limited to the following features:

  • Full replacement of PGP.
  • Does not use any patented algorithms.
  • GPLed, written from scratch.
  • Full OpenPGP implementation.
  • Better functionality than PGP and some security enhancements over PGP 2.
  • Decrypts and verifies PGP 5, 6 and 7 messages.
  • Supports ElGamal (signature and encryption), DSA, RSA, AES, 3DES, Blowfish, Twofish, CAST5, MD5, SHA-1, RIPE-MD-160 and TIGER. (and optionally -- not GNU anymore -- you can use IDEA as well)
  • Supports key and signature expiration dates.
  • Integrated support for HKP keyservers (wwwkeys.pgp.net).

In Stefan's announcement last month, he mentioned that email/news software Messenger Pro 2.50 supports GnuPG in a beta stage: "Currently it is the only mail/news reader for RISC OS that has built-in support for GnuPG I hope that other mail/news reader authors will support GnuPG in the future in a similar way like PGP 2.6.3ia is supported today."
Stefan would also like Pluto, another RISC OS email/news application written by Jonathan Duddington, to support GnuPG at some later date.

drobe.co.uk contacted Stefan regarding his work to bring OpenPGP to the RISC OS scene.
"The initial motivation came in January this year, when a very good friend of mine dared to send me a mail encrypted with PGP 5", jokes Stefan. "I was very angry about him, well, not so much about him, more about the fact that there's nothing on RISC OS to decrypt the mail and verify the signature. So I decided to try to port PGP to RISC OS. After I've spend talking about it with a fellow student, he told me I should go for GnuPG and not PGP itself. Till that moment I hadn't heard about GnuPG at all."

Stefan promptly downloaded the required source code and spent two weeks familiarised himself with the workings of GnuPG before surprisingly taking only a few days to get RISC OS GnuPG off the ground. Following some marathon testing, version 1.0.4-sb4 was released.

"Since then I've kept GnuPG up to date with the main GnuPG source code and fixed small RISC OS only bugs", Stefan explained to drobe. "As you can see with the release of 1.0.5-sb1 I want to keep GnuPG up to date with the main development in the future as well.
"I know that a lot of people are unhappy about the fact that GnuPG is a command line tool and not a graphical front end. But this way it's much easier to port and ensure portability when enhancing. And I encourage other people to write front-ends for GnuPG. I'll help with whatever information is needed for this task."

There are five ways of obtaining GnuPG from Stefan's website:

  1. The normal GPLed GnuPG for RISC OS binary (without IDEA). If you're not worried about backwards compatibility to PGP 2.x, then you'll want only this archive.
  2. The IDEA archive, which is not GNU anymore; GNU is a license drawn up by the Free Software Foundation and is issued with all modern free software allowing anyone to use, copy and contribute to your software. Now the IDEA system has been patented, legally, you are only allowed to use it -and hence an IDEA enabled GnuPG- for non-commercial purposes. You only need to use IDEA if you need to encrypt or de-encrypt data from PGP 2 users.
  3. The partially linked GnuPG for RISC OS archive. You need parts 1, 2 and 3 in order to build yourself a version which supports IDEA. You don't need any compiler or programming experience in order to create this version. But you only need it for backwards compatibility and again, you are only allowed to use it non-commercially.
  4. The GPLed source code archive. This is the source code without IDEA. If you want to compile yourself an IDEA-aware version, you'll need the IDEA archive as well. You'll need Norcroft C and UnixLib in order to compile GnuPG for RISC OS.
  5. The internationalization support. You only need this, if you want GnuPG to speak a different language than English. A lot of different languages are provided.

GnuPG 1.0.5: www.sbellon.de/

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It lets you have not just PGP 5 as in the title, but even PGP 7. A very powerful program, but not so easy to use from the command line. A helpful "Beginner's guide to GnuPG" appeared in the August issue of Archive magazine - also available from Nat Queen's website at [link]

 is a RISC OS User on 28/8/01 12:07PM
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