GNOME Keyring is an open source project that provides users with a collection of command-line programs and libraries for capturing and storing passwords, certificates, encryption keys, and other secrets that can’t be viewed by others.
Designed for GNOME
It is distributed as part of the GNOME project, automatically configured and setup with every fresh installation of the controversial desktop environment. It runs in background (daemon) and designed to manage several keyrings simultaneously.
While the application integrates well with GNOME Display Manager (GDM), automatically unlocking user’s secrets when they log into the session, it also comes with a password store for GNOME applications, allowing them to access passwords and other sensitive data.
Based around the PKCS#11 specification
The project is based around the PKCS#11 (Public-Key Cryptography Standards) specification, which provides a way for applications to manage keys and certificates on a secure storage or on smart cards.
Among other features, we can mention that there’s also a session keyring that is automatically dumped when the GNOME session ends, support for storing certificates in specific categories (GNOME2 Key Storage, User Key Storage or System Trust), as well as to store Secure Shell (SSH) and PGP (GnuPG) keys.
In addition to the built-in integration with main GNOME components, the program can store authentication credentials from many third-party applications, including web browsers, instant messengers, or email clients.
While the project doesn’t provides users with a GUI front-end, novice GNOME users can interact with the application through dedicated graphical applications, such as the acclaimed Seahorse (also known as Passwords and Keys).
Summing up, GNOME Keyring is a very important component of the well known GNOME desktop environment. It is automatically enabled and configured to store all of your secrets, including website logins, app passwords, any even PGP and SSH keys or certificates. Without it, GNOME would be a very unsafe work environment.