I've export my gpg key from the machine they were created to another server.

In the new server I've tried to use the imported key to decrypt some files I've received, but I got the following error:

gpg: encrypted with 1024-bit RSA key, ID 0A83CFB1, created 2014-09-09
      "App Eng <[email protected]>"
gpg: public key decryption failed: Bad passphrase
gpg: decryption failed: No secret key

I'm sure that the passphrase I've used is correct. I then tried to edit my key and change the passphrase doing:

gpg --list-keys

pub   2048R/DB437C11 2016-04-29 [expires: 2018-04-29]
uid       [ unknown] App Eng (ibm keys) <[email protected]>
sub   2048R/0AC6B02C 2016-04-29 [expires: 2018-04-29]

pub   1024R/AADE6532 2014-09-09
uid       [ unknown] App Eng <[email protected]>
sub   1024R/0A83CFB1 2014-09-09

gpg --edit-key AADE6532
gpg (GnuPG) 2.0.28; Copyright (C) 2015 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Secret key is available.

pub  1024R/AADE6532  created: 2014-09-09  expires: never       usage: SC  
                     trust: unknown       validity: unknown
sub  1024R/0A83CFB1  created: 2014-09-09  expires: never       usage: E   
[ unknown] (1). App Eng <[email protected]>

gpg> passwd
Key is protected.

You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for
user: "App Eng <[email protected]>"
1024-bit RSA key, ID AADE6532, created 2014-09-09

gpg: cancelled by user
Can't edit this key: Operation cancelled

This makes me think that there has been some issue with importing the keys. Can anyone understand why I can't decrypt my files with the key installed? Thanks!

  • Can you edit the passphrase on the source machine and re-import it on the remote machine?
    – wulfgarpro
    Jun 22, 2016 at 10:15
  • hey @wulfgarpro I can't even edit on the source machine, I got this error: gpg --edit-key AADE6532 Command> passwd Key is protected. can't connect to `/opt/dx/dxuser/.gnupg/S.gpg-agent': Connection refused You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for user: "App Eng <[email protected]>" 1024-bit RSA key, ID AADE6532, created 2014-09-09 gpg-agent[12290]: command get_passphrase failed: Operation cancelled gpg: cancelled by user Can't edit this key: General error
    – AlessioG
    Jun 22, 2016 at 14:16
  • sounds like you've forgotten your passphrase :)
    – wulfgarpro
    Jun 23, 2016 at 11:34
  • no, I can't even put in my passphrase. The issue is not I forgot.
    – AlessioG
    Jun 23, 2016 at 14:59
  • The error suggests gpg cannot connect to gpg-agent, not that you forgot your passphrase. Is gpg-agent really running (pgrep -a gpg-agent)? What gpg version are you using? Aug 4, 2016 at 2:00

1 Answer 1


This link has the answer: https://lists.gnupg.org/pipermail/gnupg-users/2013-April/046559.html

The special user which runs the apps on this host, doesn't have the proper TTY rights when I sudo to it. So, gpg being unable to show the TTY GUI, just fails without giving the real reason. In order to be able to do this I had to exit my navsrv sudo session, and make the following call:

chmod o+rw `tty` && sudo -i -u navsrv gpg --edit-key 8267977F

Next, I entered the navsrv login password. Then, at the gpg command prompt, when I did "passwd", I got the Enter Passphrase GUI.

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