major.io words of wisdom from a systems engineer

Prevent gnome-keyring from asking for a password when NetworkManager starts

I recently tossed Ubuntu 8.10 on my Mac Mini at home to use it as a home theater PC (with Boxee). When I connected to my wireless network via NetworkManager, I entered my WPA2 passphrase, and then I was prompted to enter a password for gnome-keyring. I went back to the couch, SSH’ed in, and continued configuring it remotely. When it rebooted, it never came back online.

Once I switched the TV back over to the Mini, I saw that gnome-keyring had popped up and it was asking for my password. I entered it, and the Mini joined the wireless network. Each time I rebooted, I had to go through this procedure (which is annoying to do with a HTPC that is across the room). I found a pretty fancy solution, but it looked a little complicated for my setup.

Here’s how I did it in a simpler way in Ubuntu 8.10:

  • Click Applications > Accessories > Passwords and Encryption Keys
  • Click Edit > Preferences
  • Click your keyring name (usually default)
  • Click Change Unlock Password
  • Enter your current password in the top box, but leave the bottom two boxes blank
  • Click OK
  • Click Use unsafe storage when you are prompted
  • Click Close

If you reboot your machine, it should not ask for a password for your keyring any longer. This allowed my system to log into my wireless network automatically.

WHOA THERE: Since the only password being stored on the device is my WPA2 password, I’m not concerned about the security of the keyring. If you’re doing this on a laptop or desktop that other people use, I would highly recommend not following these steps. All of your passwords and keys will be stored unencrypted.