GNOME uses libsecret as a secure keyring manager, to store users' passwords and other sensitive data. Applications can use the keyring manager library to store and access passwords, and users can manage their passwords using GNOME's Seahorse application.
The keyring manager provides any number of keyrings, where each keyring can contain any number of keyring items. Items in a keyring store some piece of data, often a password. Each keyring is locked individually, and users must provide a password to unlock the keyring. Once a keyring has been unlocked, the user has access to all of the items in that keyring.
The keyring manager provides access control lists for each keyring item, controlling which applications are allowed access to that item. If an unknown application attempts to access a keyring item, the keyring manager will prompt the user to allow or deny that application access. This helps prevent malicious or poorly-written programs from accessing the user's sensitive data.
Keyring data stored on the file system is encrypted with the AES block cipher, and SHA1 is used for hashes of the item's attributes. Using the attributes hash, the keyring manager is able to look up items requested by applications without ever unlocking the keyring. The keyring has to be unlocked when a matching item is found and accessed.
The keyring manager also provides a session keyring. Items in the session keyring are never stored on disk, and are lost as soon as the user's session ends. The session keyring can be used to store passwords to be used in the current session only.
If you useto access remote servers, you automatically get the benefits of the keyring manager. Whenever GIO needs to authenticate the user, it provides the option to store the password, either in the default keyring or in the session keyring.
You should use libsecret's keyring manager whenever your application needs to store passwords or other sensitive data for users. Using the keyring manager provides a better user experience while still keeping user data safe and secure.
GNOME used a library called gnome-keyring before version 3.6 was released. In version 3.6 onward, libsecret is used instead. This allows sharing the keyring service between GNOME and other desktop environments and applications.
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