pwsafe: A cross-platform tool for password management

January 6th, 2008 edited by Tincho

Entry submitted by Kam Salisbury. DPOTD needs your help, please contribute!

PWSafe is a Command Line Interface (CLI) tool for managing and securely storing passwords. Using the public domain cipher Blowfish, PWSafe maintains an encrypted database of login account details and their associated passwords. The database format PWSafe uses is cross platform compatible with Counterpane PasswordSafe (for Windows), MyPasswordSafe for QT application environments (KDE) and Password Gorilla for the tck/tk application environment (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, *BSD).

Installing PWSafe is accomplished via command line (apt-get) or X Windows (Synaptic) and has been available in both Debian and Ubuntu since a long time ago.

PWSafe is used from the command line prompt but also supports copying the passwords into the X selection buffer and into the clipboard. One main password is used to “unlock” the datafile. Screen shots of PWSafe in operation are available from the author’s (Nicolas Dade) website. Should you need to, PWSafe also supports random password generation.exporting databases to text, and merging separate databases together.

A strength of PWSafe is the cross platform compatibility of the data files. For example, you could store a copy of your PWSafe data files on a USB Flash Drive, along with installers or executables for some platforms and now you have a secure account and password management utility across a wide variety of computing platforms available to you all the time. You could keep that USB Flash Drive in your safe deposit box, should something ever happen to you, your spouse could recover and coordinate turn over of administrative accounts to others. PWSafe, secure password management as simple as it gets.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu |

7 Responses

  1. arcelan Says:

    I use Passpack. It is a free online password manager. I’m very satisfacted and I think it is a good alternative to offline softwares.

  2. Chuck Says:

    This is all well and good, but the program has not had any development, as far as I can tell, since 2005.

    The main project has moved on to using v3 databases with newer features that pwsafe (and the other *nix and Mac versions mentioned) simply do not support. So while it is convenient to use, it is not fully cross compatible anymore. If someone is using Counterpane’s version with the newer DB on windows, they cannot bring it over to their *nix box.

  3. Thierry Says:

    Keepass has also a file compatible with on all OS it can run on : Windows, Windows Portable, Mac OS X, Linux, Pocket PC, Blackberry, Palm OS, J2ME. For my own taste, I do prefer the GUI of Keepass compared to Password Safe. The main drawback is that Keepass has no CLI.

  4. gœb Says:

    Also, KeePass(X) can store attachments to entries, so you can save key files etc. in addition to normal passwords. It is not available in Debian (at least not in Etch), but packages are available from the homepage, just two or three additional libraries are required…

  5. Jordi Funollet Says:

    I’ve been using Pwsafe for a couple of years, and it does the job but I feel the GUI is too spartane; specially when you have tens of passwords and lots of categories.

    Some weeks ago I found Pwmanager; once it’s open, it remains on the taskbar and shows your entries in a quick drop-down menu.

    So, if multi-plattform is not essential to you, give it a try. (Packaged as: kde-pwmanager).

  6. ger Says:

    A v3 compatible GUI client that works VERY well is pws. It can export to v2. I too wish I had a v3 command line version.

  7. Justin Gombos Says:

    The X clipboard integration is broken on some versions of Debian (see ) However, the problem can be circumvented by using the pwsafe emacs mode that’s posted in that bug thread.

    Also, avoid “password safe” for linux, in favor of “pwsafe,” because password safe corrupts database files.