[Enigmail] some thoughts about usability

Patrick Brunschwig patrick at enigmail.net
Sun Mar 29 18:14:07 CEST 2015


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On 29.03.15 17:53, lists at datenritter.de wrote:
> Hi!
> 
> Enigmail 1.8.1 causes me and users I support some pain at the
> moment.
> 
> I don't want to ignite any (probably futile) usability
> discussions. Still I would like to suggest a few things:
> 
> 
> 1. When you introduce a new toolbar, make sure, it's not hidden
> after the upgrade. (You might also consider moving the two
> important buttons to the main toolbar ans leave the rest on the
> enigmail toolbar. IMHO it's ok to do this without asking for
> permission.)

There is no way the toolbar could be hidden after the upgrade, unless
localstore.rdf is broken (which is a *very* old Mozilla bug, for which
there is no workaround). You cannot even delete localstore.rdf while
Thunderbird is started.

> 2. Make the "protocol" menu entry less ambiguous. When it says 
> "protocol: inline PGP", does that mean I will use inline PGP now -
> or only after I clicked on the entry? It's not clear because menu
> entries are not good for toggling. (Ideas: 1. Change the text to
> something precise like "message will be sent as..." 2. Put a
> tickmark in front of it. 3. Probably best solution: Create a
> submenu with all available options. No extra clicks here.)

Fixed in v1.9.

> 3. Passphrase caching without external tools. Seriously.
> 
> Non-functional passhprase caching frustrates users like nothing
> else.
> 
> Yes, there is pgp-agent. Yes, there is this gnome-keyring-thingy.
> The latter makes KDE-users mad, is most probably rarely in use
> anyway, and causes a lot of pain whenever it doesn't work. The
> first needs configuration in at least one textfile in a hidden
> subdirectory. (And possibly deactivation of the latter, which might
> kill it after it started up with the X11-session. Haven't figured
> it out yet.)
> 
> Yes, in the linux world you want to leave work and decisions to
> tools which were made for that very kind of work or decision. Love
> the idea.
> 
> On the other hand you want *some* things to "just work". I belive, 
> e-mail encryption belongs to these kinds of things.
> 
> So, in my opinion, there should be a setting to cache the
> passphrase in enigmail and ignore any passphrase manager. It should
> be set by default. (Of course there will be complaints about this,
> because this is not the "right" way...)

GnuPG 2.x does not and will not work without a tool that implements
the functionality of gpg-agent. It's not possible to not use an
external tool. That's not the decision of Enigmail, but of GnuPG. In
theory, Enigmail could implement its own gpg-agent, but that would
most likely be even worse in GnuPG 2.1 because gpg-agent now does a
lot more than just passphrase handling.

Even though I'd like to do that, it's simply impossible to fix broken
installations from within Enigmail. There are at least 4 different
tools in various versions that somehow implement gpg-agent
functionality and/or interfere with gpg-agent. I know of
gnome-keyring, seahorse-agent, KDE wallet manager,
mate-keyring-daemon, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were more.
About the same is true for pinentry.

- -Patrick


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