Too many passwords

Q I've just completed an install of Ubuntu 8.10, which is ace apart from the nagging prompt asking me to 'Enter password for default keyring to unlock' every time I log in. The prompt says:

The application 'NetworkManagerApplet'(/usr/bin/nm-applet) wants to access the default keyring, but it is locked.

and I'm unable to connect to my wireless router until I enter my root password. It's not a major hassle for me, but how can I save my family this inconvenience?

A Ubuntu uses NetworkManager to handle all wired and wireless connections. This remembers the networks that the computer has connected to before and tries to automatically reconnect when they are in range. Because these networks are generally encrypted, it needs to store the key or passphrase for each of these 'known' networks. It does that by using the Gnome keyring (KDE alternatives use KDE Wallet) and this is password protected. You should not be using the root password to access this. In fact, you shouldn't even be using your login password, otherwise it provides no extra protection beyond your standard login.

If that's enough security for you, Ubuntu has Gnome Keyring set up to automatically open a keyring called 'login' when you log in. This can be used to store the passwords of other keyrings, meaning they can all be opened once you are logged in. There should be a file called login.keyring in .gnome2/keyrings. The next time you are asked for the default keyring password, check 'Automatically Unlock This On Login' and you shouldn't be asked for the password again. You'll need to repeat this once for each user, until each of them uses the login keyring to open any others.

This won't work if you opted for the autologin feature during installation, because then you're not giving a login password, which is used to unlock the special keyring. However, if more than one person uses the computer, you should avoid auto-login anyway; each member of your family should have their own account to keep their settings and data safe. You can turn off auto-login in the Security tab of System > Administration > Login Window.

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