Re: [Evolution] Re: Encryption Interoperability (was: should we support pgp interfaces?)

On Thu, 2002-06-27 at 03:15, Steve Murphy wrote:
I'll throw in my .02 here.

As far as dropping pgp support in evolution, in favor of gpg, I think
that it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do, seeing as pgp is not
supported any more, is broken, and it won't change the level of
<evolution/other mailer> interoperability one bit. GPG libraries are
100% available for linking against, on all platforms evolution can be
compiled and run on. Even on windows, if you are using PGP, you can
still build GPG and not affect your PGP installation at all.

Ralph Sanford's issue of how interoperable evolution is with outlook and
other mailers is orthogonal to the direct support of a pgp interface in

Here's my view on the state of PGP encryption interoperability between
the several email GUI providers:

1. it completely, totally, unanimously sucks. It's easier to find the
mode whereby it works at all between vendors, and keep that in mind as
you use it.

Here's some of my observations:

1. evolution evaluates encryption in the wrong place in the dataflow,
and therefore has a difficult time verifying signatures. The dataflow
reformats the letter, like modifying the line widths, etc, and would
probably have been better to check the original message at the front of
the dataflow instead. Fejj, I think,  has been working on this, and I
think he knows all about the limitations, and apparently, it will take a
lot of work to re-do this, if it ever gets done.

multipart/signed has been fixed in 1.1.x version.  It treats the content
entirely as opaque data as per rfc.

The 'openpgp' inline-pgp stuff wont, and probably never will, be
reliable or supported.

2. Evolution PGP signatures louse up outlook. It's most likely OK to
PGP- sign your letters, if you don't have any attachments. But if you
do, it's useless to sign the letter if the recipient is an outlook user,
because they most likely will not be able to recover your attachment
properly. And, outlook PGP users will most likely not be able to verify
the signature with attachments in the mix anyway.

Only check it against the 1.1.x tree.  The 1.0.x tree has many known
issues and *usually* creates broken signatures.

If you want to send encrypted attachments using evolution, with an
outlook recipient, encrypt the files first, then send the encrypted file
as an attachment from evolution to outlook. And don't sign the letter if
it has attachments.

3. PGP for outlook has some interesting limitations, probably most
likely because the interface available to them with MS Outlook. At
least, that's the impression I got from wrangling over these issues with
PGP support. I'd have to assume that the PGP team were fairly
intelligent people, and tried to do what they could. I pointed out a
weakness in the way they were doing things: If you sign just the letter,
and require each attachment to be encrypted and/or signed separately,
how can you really tell if some third party removed an attachment? They
never answered this one. At any rate, the multilevel mime encapsulation
that evolution does is way over PGP's head as far as capability.

Maybe they're working with the older rfc.  Some things changed, some in
a non-compatible way.  The whole thing is a bit of a mess.

With each email vendor doing encryption their own way, and probably all
them following the RFC's concerned, but restricting themselves to
supporting just certain segments of the RFC's, interoperability is

Always the problem with 'may' features.  Apparently s/mime is much

Fejj has found some loopholes and problems with the encryption specs.
Yet PGP as a standard set is virtually dead. The mailing lists are
silent. Maybe a new standard is in order; maybe a reduction in the
number of options available in the current one is in order, I can't say.
All I know is, if the world wants to use encryption generally, it ain't
gonna get what it wants.

The best thing I can think of some mail-preprocessor to handle the
decryption/signature verification for evolution. Because what you see
when a letter ends up being displayed in evolution may not be exactly
what you got originally, it's too late to successfully decrypt most
messages, except what's been sent by another evolution user.

Well as i said multipart/signed should be reliable now, and is the only
reasonable solution anyway.

Enough rambling. I'd love to see encryption more widely used. Right now,
I feel like the only thing you can send via email is the equivalent of a
post card. To heck with privacy.


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