GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG or GPG) is a free software alternative to the PGP suite of cryptographic software. GnuPG is compliant with RFC 4880, which is the current IETF standards track specification of OpenPGP. Current versions of PGP (and Veridis' Filecrypt) are interoperable with GnuPG and other OpenPGP-compliant systems.
GnuPG is a part of the Free Software Foundation's GNU software project, and has received major funding from the German government. It is released under the terms of version 3 of the GNU General Public License.
GnuPG was initially developed by Werner Koch. Version 1.0.0 was released on September 7, 1999. The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology funded the documentation and the port to Microsoft Windows in 2000.
Because GnuPG is an OpenPGP standard compliant system, the history of OpenPGP is of importance. It was designed to interoperate with PGP, the email encryption protocol developed by Phil Zimmermann.
Version 2.0 was released 13 November 2006. The old stable 1.x branch, whose latest version is 1.4.10, will be continued in parallel with the new GnuPG 2 series because there were significant changes in the architecture of the program which will not fit every purpose.
Although the basic GnuPG program has a command line interface, there exist various front-ends that provide it with a graphical user interface. For example, GnuPG encryption support has been integrated into KMail and Evolution, the graphical e-mail clients found in the most popular Linux desktops KDE and GNOME. There are also graphical GnuPG front-ends (Seahorse for GNOME, KGPG for KDE). For Mac OS X, the Mac GPG project provides a number of Aqua front-ends for OS integration of encryption and key management as well as GnuPG installations via Installer packages. Furthermore, the GPGMail project enables Apple Mail to use GnuPG based encryption. Instant messaging applications such as Psi and Fire can automatically secure messages when GnuPG is installed and configured. Web-based software such as Horde also makes use of it. The cross-platform plugin Enigmail provides GnuPG support for Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey. Similarly, Enigform provides GnuPG support for Mozilla Firefox. FireGPG was discontinued June 7, 2010.
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