The time had come to fix something that had been bugging me for a long time: Still making unsigned Git commits from VS Code.
I am a fan of green badges. Wherever possible, I’m trying to achieve them. I love when my browser shows the little green lock for websites served over HTTPS or when my taskbar shows the little green lock for an active VPN connection. Green badges indicate confidence and security. They give me the positive feeling, that the trustworthiness of someone or something was proved and certified. In times, where the Twitter account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was hacked by simply duplicating his phones SIM card, it surely would be a good idea, to verify a tweet with more than just the senders phone number and reward a secure verification with a corresponding badge. So I try to provide as many green badges as possible for visitors, users and contributors of my work.
For most of my projects I use VS Code on Windows for creating and GitHub for publishing my code. The built-in Git integration in VS Code turned out to be extremely useful and fast for frequent Git commands. And now I wanted VS Code to sign my commits without additional effort or being interrupted to switch to the terminal.
Git supports signed commits for quite a while now (January 2012) and signed tags even longer. This means, Git provides the possibility to verify that commits are actually from a trusted source using the GNU Privacy Guard (GPG). GitHub marks signed commits with a green “verified” badge.
This is how it worked for me in VS Code on Windows:
First you have to install GPG, if you don’t already have it. You can verify your installation (i.e. with Windows Power Shell) like this:
$ gpg --version gpg (GnuPG) 2.2.17 libgcrypt 1.8.4
If your system doesn't know them yet, you have to import your public and private keys (I assume you have them stored in files called
private.key). If you don’t have a key pair, you can generate a new one. In that case, you can skip the import and directly jump to Set up Git. It's also possible to use your Keybase GPG key, if you have one (Stephen Rees-Carter wrote a nice article about it).
gpg --import public.key gpg --import private.key
Note: when importing the private key, a GUI window appears that asks for the corresponding passphrase you set when creating your key pair.
Now you can tell Git your signing key ID. It’s a 16-digit alphanumeric string that can be found with
gpg --list-signatures (look for lines starting with “sig”).
git config --global user.signingkey 26A64778F76A7911
If you want, you can tell Git to sign commits per default (since Git 2.0), so you don’t always have to add the
-s flag in the command line:
git config --global commit.gpgsign true
Note, that I use the
--global flag here to apply these settings to all my local repositories. Of course you can apply these settings only to the current repository without it.
Now you have to give GitHub (or whatever Git server you’re using) your public key. You can print it with
gpg --armor --export or
get-content -path public.key (or open it with your favorite text editor) and copy it to your clipboard. Now go to GitHub, click on the top right menu, go to
Settings > SSH and GPG keys > New GPG key and paste your key — it should look like this:
-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK----- ...a lot of characters... -----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
Finally you have to tell VS Code to append the
-s flag to the
git commit command, to use signed committing now. Open the settings, search for “gpg” and check the box “Enables commit signing with GPG”.
Alternatively you can add this line to your settings.json :
And that’s it! Now you can commit your changes in VS Codes Git integration and sign your work.
Note that you will be prompted for the passphrase of your private key at first.
Well, would have been too easy if it worked at first try… unfortunately I had to deal with the following weird error message, that appeared always when I tried to commit using the
$ git commit -am "a message" -s gpg: skipped "26A64778F76A7911": secret key not available gpg: signing failed: secret key not available error: gpg failed to sign the data fatal: failed to write commit object
After some research, I found, that I had to tell Git the path to the GPG executable (for whatever reason) using the git config
git config --global gpg.program "C:\Program Files (x86)\gnupg\bin\gpg.exe"
Note that the path may be a different one on your system.
After this, everything worked like a charm! Feel free to leave a comment, if you are facing other issues or you’d like to make me feel guilty because you already sign your commits for years :)
Originally published: 18th September 2019 on Medium