[Enigmail] some thoughts about usability

Mike Acker mike_acker at charter.net
Sun Mar 29 18:44:49 CEST 2015

On 03/29/2015 12:14 PM, Patrick Brunschwig wrote:
> 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.
I think we need to re-think this protocol question: if the user selects
either (a PGP Signature or PGP Encryption or both) and (the message is
in HTML format) then the user needs to use PGP/MIME and that should be
the automatic default.   certainly OK to have a switch to change the
message to plain-text and shift to PGP/Inline but at this point I think
most eMail messages are written in HTML.

as things stand I have to go back to the Enigmail dialog and re-select
PGP-MIME each time I want to use it.   Not Good.
> >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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