This error has arise when I add gns repository and try to use this command:

#sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys F88F6D313016330404F710FC9A2FD067A2E3EF7B

the error is:

gpg: keyserver receive failed: Server indicated a failure
  • as I've explained in my answer and comment to the downvotes, it's related to DNS and the way that dirmngr in version 2.1.6 did reverse DNS that have been removed in version 2.1.8 I recall, but 2.2.x I've installed from Debian testing/unstable (Debian 9 current as at writing this) also fixed this issue. – Hvisage Feb 4 '18 at 15:52

Behind a firewall you should use the port 80 instead of the default port 11371 :

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv 9A2FD067A2E3EF7B

Sample output:

Executing: /tmp/apt-key-gpghome.mTGQWBR2AG/gpg.1.sh --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv 9A2FD067A2E3EF7B
gpg: key 9A2FD067A2E3EF7B: "Launchpad PPA for GNS3" not changed
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:              unchanged: 1
  • Not port 11371 or 80 related behind firewall. seems to be rather related to DNS resolution when you start to google the net... ``` Executing: /tmp/apt-key-gpghome.imkAGGXMO8/gpg.1.sh --receive-keys --debug-all -vvv --keyserver hkp://sks1.cryptokeys.org.za:80 gpg: DBG: chan_3 -> KEYSERVER --clear hkp://sks1.cryptokeys.org.za:80 gpg: DBG: chan_3 <- OK gpg: DBG: chan_3 -> KS_GET -- 0x9C1384B1168FD423 gpg: DBG: chan_3 <- ERR 167772379 Server indicated a failure <Dirmngr>``` – Hvisage Feb 1 '18 at 15:40
  • 15
    I get the same error using dirmngr 2.2.5, and adding hkp:// and :80 resolved the issue – lofidevops Apr 11 '18 at 15:25

It has to do with DNS and what your DNS server does or does return for dirmngr ;( It got introduce since 2.1.16 with dirmngr, and I've been looking for solution myself on 2.1.6 with Debian's default packages. ;(

The correct answer, is: Upgrade to version 2.2.x or later that fixed this problem first time.

  • @StephenKitt it wasn't a different answer, I gave the reason why it broke, as the other answer was a totally inadequate answer with all the wrong reasons why it was failing after I've investigated the 2.1.6 versions on Debian. There wasn't any real other fix than to get the latest version from a testing/unstable branch to get passed this problem, which was not HTTP/firewall related, but the DNS issue – Hvisage Feb 4 '18 at 15:50
  • Sorry, the comment above is a canned comment which wasn’t quite appropriate. Your edited answer does indeed answer the question, thanks. – Stephen Kitt Feb 4 '18 at 16:02
  • a temporary workaround: ping the server (ping keyserver.ubuntu.com) to get its IP number and use this number instead of keyserver.ubuntu.com in your command – Xavras Wyzryn Nov 27 '20 at 19:58

This issue was really though for me, none of the proposed solutions worked for me until I found this post on reddit. I just went and added this line to /etc/resolv.conf

nameserver # Google dns

you can try any other dns and see which one works for you.

  • This doesn't seem to work unless the first nameserver in the list is functional. Most DNS activity will failover to the next resolver, but this wouldn't for some reason. – Andrew Bobulsky Oct 11 '20 at 19:19

Add 0x before key, so that it turns 0xF88F6D313016330404F710FC9A2FD067A2E3EF7B.

This plus GAD3R's answer solved it for me.

  • damn, you're right! i would have never imagined that the missing 0x will not only make it fail, but also lead to such a cryptic message... thanks! – Attila Lendvai Nov 23 '20 at 20:31

Encountered the same issue on ubuntu 18.04, running dirmngr 2.2.4. I went with the option of checking my dns settings and added my local dns server 'nameserver' and google's 'nameserver'. Then it worked.

  • Specifying explicit DNS servers in my network config solved it for me. Gentoo, using NetworkManager. – Pistos Dec 28 '18 at 22:55
  • Also remember Quad9 ( for helping to filter out malware/etc. in a privacy-advocacy manner ;) – Hvisage Dec 31 '18 at 10:14
  • Where add??? I just switched to dns and am getting this issue – Trees4theForest Aug 20 '19 at 13:06

Usually when you have a non default DNS configuration in your system, for example if you're using dnsmasq or another DNS service, other than systemd-resolve, it's possible that dirmngr used by gpg fails to get the resolved name for keyserver.ubuntu.com, then, you need to check your name resolution software.

In my case, I have installed dnsmasq for name resolution in a Zimbra mail server. In this case it is important that you prevent that the resolvconf software controls dnsmasq, this is editing the /etc/default/dnsmasq file and uncommenting this line: IGNORE_RESOLVCONF=yes. Then you have to restart the dnsmasq and try to resolve with the local dns server with this command:

:~$ host -v keyserver.ubuntu.com

If it is ok, you will see something like this:

Trying "keyserver.ubuntu.com"
Using domain server:

;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 13994
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 2, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;keyserver.ubuntu.com.      IN  A

keyserver.ubuntu.com.   417 IN  A
keyserver.ubuntu.com.   417 IN  A

Received 70 bytes from in 14 ms
Trying "keyserver.ubuntu.com"
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 33907
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;keyserver.ubuntu.com.      IN  AAAA

Received 38 bytes from in 1 ms
Trying "keyserver.ubuntu.com"
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 45211
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 1, ADDITIONAL: 0

;keyserver.ubuntu.com.      IN  MX

ubuntu.com.     1748    IN  SOA ns1.canonical.com. hostmaster.canonical.com. 2018053167 10800 3600 604800 3600

Received 99 bytes from in 16 ms

Even if you're not using some DNS server, try to ask to systemd-resolve if it can resolve the URL with this:

:~$ host -v keyserver.ubuntu.com

If not, let us know what you get.


This problem can be caused (as I just experienced it) by an empty resolv.conf as may be the case on a system using systemd-resolved for its primary DNS resolution via nsswitch.

I assume that it's a case of gpg not using nsswitch and the associated libc functions and instead, for some reason, reading resolv.conf itself.


  • gpg: keyserver receive failed: Server indicated a failure

  • /etc/resolv.conf is empty but hostname resolution e.g. getent hosts google.com, ping google.com etc is fine. Note that dig, drill, nslookup all read resolv.conf directly, so these may not work.

  • /etc/nsswitch.conf has something like hosts: files mymachines myhostname resolve [!UNAVAIL=return] dns in it, where resolve is a module provided by systemd (see man 8 libnss_resolve.so.2 for details).


You want to make a symbolic link to systemd's autogenerated resolv.conf that reflects the current resolver settings. I suggest reading man 8 systemd-resolved, section "/ETC/RESOLV.CONF" for details on what this does, exactly.

$ # you should check this has reasonable contents before using it
$ cat /run/systemd/resolve/stub-resolv.conf
# This file is managed by man:systemd-resolved(8). Do not edit.
# This is a dynamic resolv.conf file for connecting local clients to the
# internal DNS stub resolver of systemd-resolved. This file lists all
# configured search domains.
# Run "resolvectl status" to see details about the uplink DNS servers
# currently in use.
# Third party programs should typically not access this file directly, but only
# through the symlink at /etc/resolv.conf. To manage man:resolv.conf(5) in a
# different way, replace this symlink by a static file or a different symlink.
# See man:systemd-resolved.service(8) for details about the supported modes of
# operation for /etc/resolv.conf.

options edns0 trust-ad

# rm /etc/resolv.conf
# ln -s /run/systemd/resolve/stub-resolv.conf /etc/resolv.conf

I was getting this error on when I tried to access a key.

gpg: keyserver receive failed: No dirmngr

Killing dirmngr and running the command again solved it for me, like below:

gpgconf --kill dirmngr

It is worth a try, let me know if it works.

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