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The PGP keyservers

What are keyservers for?

The keyservers store the (public) PGP keys and key certificates. Everyone looking for a public PGP key can search this key on the keyservers and finally retrieve the found keys.
The keyservers synchronise each other. If someone add a key to any of the keyserver, this key is distributed to all keyservers.

Because all keys and key certificates are stored on these keyservers, it is possible to verify if a certain key is valid. A key is valid, if it is signed by another trusted key. You find more about that in de explanation of the web of trust.

How to use the keyservers

You can retrieve or deposit keys by email, by a WWW interface or by PGP itself (only > PGP 5.x).

More Documentation can be found on RedIRIS.

The software for the keyserver has been written by Marc Horowitz. See also Running a keyserver.

Where to find the keyservers

The official Keyserver homepage is on http://www.pgp.net/pgpnet/.
A lot of interesting informations about PGP and especially the Keyservers can be found on ES Keyserver Information page.

Some well known keyservers are:

keyserver status

Christoph Martin manages a big brother site to see which keyservers are alive. (down at the moment)

Running a keyserver

The most known keyserver has been written by Marc Horowitz. His software (and some other stuff) is available from http://www.mit.edu/~marc/pks/pks.html

Since September 2002, the software is avaible on Sourceforge, Project pks.

There are other keyserver implementations:

pks software

There are a lot o patches for his last released version 0.9.4 (released in 1999). I collected some of them:

All patches applied: pks-0.9.4_patch2_flood_kdsearcherror_JHpatch1_buffoverflow20020525.tgz and the pgp signature

You can find other patches and a source rpm file at ftp://ftp.rediris.es/rediris/software/pks/pks-0.9.4-8.src.rpm

New patches:

  1. patch_pf20020615 fixes the problem of randomly not sending updated signatures to the syncsites. Caused by improperly initialized mymory.

Since September 2002, the software is avaible on Sourceforge, Project pks.

pks contributions

I wrote/changed some scripts to run my keyserver. Perhaps they are usable for others:

Hints, Errors and Comments by mail to Patrick Feisthammel <pafei@rubin.ch>
Last modification: 21. Juli 2006, Patrick Feisthammel