jb… a weblog by Jonathan Buys

GPG Signing Git Commits

On my way towards completing another project I needed to setup gpg public key infrastructure. There are many tutorials and explanations about gpg on the web, so I won’t try to explain what it is here. My goal is to simply record how I went about setting it up for myself to securely sign my Git commits.

Most everything here I gathered from this tutorial on dev.to, but since I’m sure I’ll never be able to find it again after today, I’m going to document it here.

First, install gpg with Homebrew:

brew install gpg

Next, generate a new Ed25519 key:

gpg --full-generate-key --expert

We pick option (9) for the first prompt, Elliptic Curve Cryptography, and option (1) for the second, Curve 25519. Pick the defaults for the rest of the prompts, giving the key a descriptive name.

Once finished you should be able to see your key by running:

gpg --list-keys --keyid-format short

The tutorial recommends using a second subkey generated from the first key to actually do the signing. So, we edit the master key by running:

gpg --expert --edit-key XXXXXXX

Replacing XXXXX with the ID of your newly generated key. Once in the gpg command line, enter addkey, and again select ECC and Curve 25519 for the options. Finally, enter save to save the key and exit the command line.

Now when we run gpg --list-keys --keyid-format short we should be able to see a second key listed with the designation [S] after it. The ID will look similar to this:

sub   ed25519/599D272D 2021-01-02 [S]

We will need the part after ed25519/, in this case 599D272D. Add that to your global Git configuration file by running:

git config --global user.signingkey 599D272D

If you’d like git to sign every commit, you can add this to your config file:

git config --global commit.gpgsign true

Otherwise, pass the -S flag to your git command to sign individual commits. I’d never remember to do that, so I just sign all of them.

Make sure that gpg is unlocked and ready to use by running:

echo "test"  | gpg --clearsign

If that fails, run export GPG_TTY=$(tty) and try again. You should be prompted to unlock GPG with the passphrase set during creation of the key. Enter the export command in your ~/.zshrc to fix this issue.

Finally, Github has a simple way to add gpg keys, but first we’ll need to export the public key:

gpg --armor --export 599D272D

Copy the entire output of that command and enter it into the Github console under Settings, “SSH and GPG keys”, and click on “New GPG key”. Once that’s finished, you should start seeing nice green “Verified” icons next to your commits.