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[Development] Solution for a password/secret storage


Hi all!
  I'd like to discuss about our plans for a password/secret storage
service which could be used by applications to store and retrieve secret

On the desktop, we are currently using the GNOME keyring, which we
cannot use as-is on UbuntuTouch given its dependency on Gtk+. The GNOME
keyring itself implements part of the "Secret Service" freedesktop.org
API [0], which AFAIK is also implemented by KDE's KWallet.

Whatever solution we choose, I'd recommend to expose an API compatible
with the freedesktop.org's one; it might not be exactly what we need,
but on the other hand I don't see a strong reason to do things differently.

That said, the next question is what we want to use; given that the
"Secrets Service" API is not terribly complicated, and that the GNOME
keyring is tied to Gtk+, I don't think that the effort of extracting and
reusing the non-Gtk+ parts of the GNOME keyring is worth it.

Someone suggested that we could implement the freedesktop API inside the
signond daemon, which is at the core of Online Accounts; given that the
daemon is easily extensible (it already provides an extension API for
plugins), it might not be a bad idea, considering also that signond will
be one of the main users of this API (it needs it to store account
passwords and authentication tokens).
However, while not being against the idea, I'd like to give it some more
though before pushing it forward.

Another question is how the secrets DB should be stored. In MeeGo we
were using the SIM "Run GSM algorithm" [1] to obtain a byte array which
would be unique to the user's SIM, and use that as a LUKS key to decrypt
the secrets storage which was mounted in its own loop partition.
So the plan was to disable the password storage when the SIM was removed
or deactivated.
At the end we had to disable this feature because of problems with the
SIM service (which from time to time reported that the SIM was being
removed while in fact it was still there), but the infrastructure was
all in place -- and as far as Online Accounts is concerned this is still
usable, since we took off from the MeeGo code. Only the SIM interface
needs to be re-written for oFono (provided that it can offer the same

Anyway, regardless of what the access key is (whether it's the SIM or
anything else, like a lock code or screen gesture), it might be a good
idea to consider the possibility of having the secrets storage being
made unavailable when some conditions are not met.

So, those above are a few aspects to consider. There are many ways to
implement the secrets DB, and if you think you have more ideas, you are
very welcome to list them here.
I'm bringing up this discussion because this service is essential for
Online Accounts (right now on UbuntuTouch our password database is not
encrypted), and if there's something I can do to get this done,
including writing code, I'd be happy to help.
Consider this e-mail as me volunteering for this task -- but first we
need to decide how to do it. :-)


[0]: http://standards.freedesktop.org/secret-service/

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