I did a clean install of Arch Linux and imported my backed up gpg private key. As a sanity check I ran:

gpg —list-keys

Everything showed up as normal except for the uid which now reads:

uid [ unknown ] User < user@useremail.com >

When I first created this key before the clean install it read:

uid [ ultimate ] User < user@useremail.com >

Why would it change from [ ultimate ] to [ unknown ]after importing it onto a clean install?

Thanks in advance.

1 Answer 1


GNUPG has a trust database stored at ~/.gnupg/trustdb.gpg

You can backup this trust database using the --export-ownertrust option:

gpg --export-ownertrust > file.txt

If you exported your secret keys and import them later into a new environment, the trust database is no longer present.

However, this is easily remedied:

gpg --edit-key user@useremail.com

gpg> trust

Please decide how far you trust this user to correctly verify other users' keys
(by looking at passports, checking fingerprints from different sources, etc.)

  1 = I don't know or won't say
  2 = I do NOT trust
  3 = I trust marginally
  4 = I trust fully
  5 = I trust ultimately
  m = back to the main menu

Your decision? 5

And don't forget to save the changes:

gpg> save
  • I keep getting ` gpg: can't do this in batch mode `
    – timxor
    May 31, 2018 at 3:42
  • 4
    Minor note: it seems that save is not necessary, giving 'Key not changed so no update needed.' May 12, 2020 at 13:38

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