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2.6 Agent's Assuan Protocol

Note: this section does only document the protocol, which is used by GnuPG components; it does not deal with the ssh-agent protocol.

The gpg-agent should be started by the login shell and set an environment variable to tell clients about the socket to be used. Clients should deny to access an agent with a socket name which does not match its own configuration. An application may choose to start an instance of the gpgagent if it does not figure that any has been started; it should not do this if a gpgagent is running but not usable. Because gpg-agent can only be used in background mode, no special command line option is required to activate the use of the protocol.

To identify a key we use a thing called keygrip which is the SHA-1 hash of an canonical encoded S-Expression of the public key as used in Libgcrypt. For the purpose of this interface the keygrip is given as a hex string. The advantage of using this and not the hash of a certificate is that it will be possible to use the same keypair for different protocols, thereby saving space on the token used to keep the secret keys.