aptly publish: ERROR: unable to initialize GPG signer. Missing pubring.gpg keys

In continuation of our aptly common mistakes here one more when making a second mirror aptly server to your master (you may encounter this error in many other situations, not only building a mirror aptly server). Again the problem is the GPG key like this one – aptly mirror – gpgv: Can’t check signature: public key not found this time the problem occurs when you try getting snapshot of your mirror repository.

By default Aptly uses the GNU key in keyring pubring.gpg (/root/.gnupg/pubring.gpg for the root user)

And even you may have the same key in other keyrings like trustedkeys.gpg you won’t be able to use them for signing process with the aptly snapshot.

Here is the error:

root@srv-aptly-2:~ # aptly publish snapshot myrepo-initial
ERROR: unable to initialize GPG signer: looks like there are no keys in gpg, please create one (official manual: http://www.gnupg.org/gph/en/manual.html)

The solution is to export the key from pubring.gpg keyring and then import the GPG key in keyring pubring.gpg in the new server. And then you won’t receive the error when making a snapshot with aptly. Or if your case is not making a second server, but your first aptly server you must generate the GPG key in pubring.gpg (look at the end how to do it and skip the lines below for GPU key export and import).

Export the pubring.gpg GPG key from your server
root@srv-aptly-1:~ # gpg --list-keys --keyring pubring.gpg
/root/.gnupg/pubring.gpg
------------------------
pub   2048D/FDC7A25E 2017-09-16
uid                  My-aptly (aptly key no passphrase) <my-aptly@example.com>

root@srv-aptly-1:~ # gpg --keyring pubring.gpg --export --armor FDC7A25E > FDC7A25E.key
Copy the file to the second server (FDC7A25E.key) and then import it in keyring pubring.gpg
root@srv-aptly-2:~ # cat ./FDC7A25E.key| gpg --keyring pubring.gpg --import
gpg: key FDC7A25E: public key "My-aptly (aptly key no passphrase) <my-aptly@example.com>" imported
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:               imported: 1
root@srv-aptly-2:~ # aptly publish snapshot myrepo-initial
Loading packages...
Generating metadata files and linking package files...
 15683 / 107250 [====================>--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------]  14.62% 2h53m50s 17025 / 107250 [=====================>--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------]  15.87% 3h5m15sFinalizing metadata files..

Generate GPG Key

If you just came here installing a new aptly server and getting this error as mentioned above you miss a GPG key in keyring pubring.gpg.

root@srv-aptly: ~# gpg --default-new-key-algo rsa4096 --gen-key --keyring pubring.gpg
gpg (GnuPG) 2.2.11; Copyright (C) 2018 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Note: Use "gpg --full-generate-key" for a full featured key generation dialog.

GnuPG needs to construct a user ID to identify your key.

Real name: My-aptly
Email address: my-aptly@example.com
You selected this USER-ID:
    "MyName <my-aptly@example.com>"

Change (N)ame, (E)mail, or (O)kay/(Q)uit? O
We need to generate a lot of random bytes. It is a good idea to perform
some other action (type on the keyboard, move the mouse, utilize the
disks) during the prime generation; this gives the random number
generator a better chance to gain enough entropy.
gpg: key B14B67D0CF27191B marked as ultimately trusted
gpg: revocation certificate stored as '/root/.gnupg/openpgp-revocs.d/77EC42A1F16127C83509292BB14B67D0CF27191B.rev'
public and secret key created and signed.

Note that this key cannot be used for encryption.  You may want to use
the command "--edit-key" to generate a subkey for this purpose.
pub   rsa4096 2019-07-08 [SC] [expires: 2021-07-07]
      77EC42A1F16127C83509292BB14B67D0CF27191B
uid                      MyName <my-aptly@example.com>

NOTE

Just to note here we give you all the examples with the root user and the GPG keys are for the root user. You may use a different user for the aptly process and you must ensure the GPG keys to present for this user (the directories and files are the same, just home directory is different – the home directory of the aptly user i.e. “/[my-aptly-home-directory]/.gnupg/pubring.gpg” and for all other GPG files “/[my-aptly-home-directory]/.gnupg/”).

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