OpenPGP smartcard with GnuPG on Fedora#


The following instructions require the Nitrokey 3 to have at least firmware version 1.4.0 installed. Please refer to firmware update to learn how to update it.

The GnuPG smartcard support requires scdaemon. In Fedora the scdaemon is part of the GnuPG package.


The scdaemon is installed in /usr/libexec/scdaemon. This path is usually not part of the PATH environment variable.

The GnuPG project supports two setups of interfacing with a OpenPGP smartcard.

  1. GnuPG (scdaemon with CCID driver) → Smartcard (e.g. Nitrokey)

    In this setup the scdaemon communicates directly to the Nitrokey with its internal CCID driver and libusb. It requires the Udev rules to be set, because the scdaemon runs in userspace with the permissions of the logged in user.

  2. GnuPG (scdaemon with PCSC library) → pcscd → Smartcard (e.g. Nitrokey)

    In this setup the scdaemon communicates with pcscd, which then communicates with the Nitrokey.

On Fedora only the second setup is supported, because the configuration of the GnuPG package sets the CCID driver as disabled and the pcsc support as required. The relevant configuration can be found in the spec file here and here.


The latest Fedora 38 version should work after installation without issues. Upgraded versions of Fedora might have conflicting configuration and should be checked as below. Fedora Silverblue was reported to have issues with GnuPG and smartcards. The instructions below only apply to Fedora Workstation and Fedora Server editions.

The correct configuration of a setup can be checked by querying information about the Nitrokey with gpg --card-status.

Check recognition#

Verify with the lsusb command that the Nitrokey is recognized. The output should list the Nitrokey, e.g. Bus 001 Device 002: ID 20a0:42b2 Clay Logic Nitrokey 3.

Check system configuration#

  1. Make sure the pcscd package is installed with dnf install pcsc-lite. Further the systemd service and socket must be enabled and started with systemctl enable pcscd.socket pcscd.service && systemctl start pcscd.socket.

  2. The scdaemon requires the libpcsclite library to connect to pcscd. The path to the pcsc library can be set explicitly with echo "pcsc-driver /usr/lib64/" >> ~/.gnupg/scdaemon.conf. Alternatively, the library can also be made available with a symlink as follows ln -s /usr/lib64/ /usr/lib64/ Make sure the ~/.gnupg/scdaemon.conf file has no conflicting settings applied.

  3. The scdaemon by default expects exclusive access to pcscd, to avoid potential issues with concurrent modifications of information on the card. This causes access to fail if other clients, usually web browsers, accessed the card, even if only for reading. Shared access can be enabled with echo "pcsc-shared" >> ~/.gnupg/scdaemon.conf (in GnuPG version 2.2.28 or higher).