The Linux Migration: Password Management

Posted on by Brooke Lester

Previously in this series: Text Expansion

Summary: It is a truth perhaps not yet universally acknowledged that a Mac user migrating much of their home and professional life to Linux will found themself in need of a replacement for their password manager. Importing my 1Password (Mac) vault into Enpass (Linux) works more than well enough.

Password Management

This is when you have an application that holds all your account user names and passwords; that creates new strong passwords for new accounts; that uses a "browser extension" to auto-fill these user names & passwords into Web forms when you want to log into an account like your Amazon or email account; that probably also holds secure text notes and other kinds of private information; and that secures all of this behind a single, hopefully strong and easy to remember, passphrase.

On the Mac

I've been using 1Password on the Mac for years, and couldn't cope without a password manager. However, Agilebits has no interest in developing 1Password for Linux. Once upon a time, 1Password allowed full-featured web access to your vault via Dropbox, a feature they called "1PasswordAnywhere." But that feature went away, and Agilebits has made clear that reintroducing "1PasswordAnywhere" isn't going to happen. I had hoped that their new subscription service, which allows web access to one's vault, would basically replace 1PasswordAnywhere; turns out, though, that this "web access" lacks the functionality of a browser extension: it doesn't fill fields with your user name and password, and you're forced to copy/paste. Long story longer: 1Password isn't happening on Linux.

On Linux

My solution: Enpass, the free password manager for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Enpass will import items from your 1Password vault, and includes browser extensions. The import is a little janky--categories are lost, so logins, secure documents, credit cards, and all are simply listed together in "All". Still, the Search feature does a lot to make this only a minor inconvenience.

I am still using 1Password on the Mac, even as I use Enpass on Linux. This means that I should only add new log-ins on the Mac, importing the vault over to Enpass once each month or so. If I add anything directly to Enpass, I don't really have a way to export it the other way into 1Password for Mac. I'm willing to put a pin in this problem for another day.

One heads-up on Enpass: You have to enable its browser extension in the app's preferences. Until you do, the installed extension won't respond when clicked. It's easy to wrongly believe that the extension is broken, and waste time troubleshooting (as I did).