3 Password Management Tools for the Linux Desktop
Ah, passwords ... I have more than a few of them. And I'm sure that you do, too. And the problem isn't just the sheer number of passwords that we seem to accumulate. It's also organizing and remembering those passwords.
To help us do both, a small cottage industry of password management software has grown into existence. Many of the popular tools in that category reside on the web, including at least one open source option.
But if you don't want to keep some or all of your most important passwords on someone else's computer, there are more than a few solid options for managing your passwords on your (Linux) desktop. Let's take a quick look at three of them.
KeePass is one of the more venerable and popular open source desktop password managers. It's spawned a widely-used password database format, and derivatives are available for many operating systems — desktop and mobile.
My favourite variant on the Linux desktop (hence its inclusion in this post) is KeePassXC. Why do I like KeePassXC? It's easy to use and set up, and it's quite flexible.
When you add a password, you can quickly input the most important details — a user name, the password itself, the URL of the website you're logging into, along with notes. Here's an example of a blank password entry screen:
You can also:
- Get KeePassXC to generate a password for you,
- Create folders to better organize your passwords, and
- Have KeePassXC automatically enter your user name and password into a login box (though this doesn't always work).
Lock Box is a very simple password manager for elementary OS. It lacks most of the features of the other two password managers that I look at in this post, but for some people that simplicity is a feature rather than a drawback.
You enter the the details of a password and its associated login — your user name, password, name to identify the login, and the URL, as shown below:
After you save, the password appears in the list in the Lock Box window. Your passwords are sorted alphabetically, in case you're wondering. Lock Box doesn't offer you a way in which to organize your passwords using folders or categories.
It also doesn't have the automatic typing feature found in KeePassXC. Instead, you need to click the Copy Username and Copy Password buttons beside the entries in the list, and paste the information into a login form.
As I mentioned at the top of this section, Lock Box is basic. But it works.
Revelation, while it's been around for quite a while, is new to me. I'm surprised that it's taken me this long to discover it because Revelation is one of the better desktop password managers that I've tried.
It's very similar to KeePass and its variants. But Revelation isn't a knock off. It has several features that make it stand out.
The main one of those is the ability to choose the type of login that you're creating a password for, like:
- FTP, and
- Remote desktop.
And more. Each type of login has fields for that specific login. Here's an example of the entry screen for a password, and related login information, for a website:
You can also generate a password — either while creating an entry for a login or a one-time password. In Revelation's preferences, you can set the length of generated passwords. If you're wondering, the default if eight characters.
And, as with KeePassXC, you can group your passwords to make them easier to organize.
The three password managers that I've just looked at aren't the only ones available for the Linux desktop (I'll be looking at a few more in the future), but they balance ease of use with useful features. If you're looking for a good password manager, KeePassXC, Lock Box, and Revelation are all worth a test drive.