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sekrets is a command line tool and library used to securely manage encrypted files and settings in your rails' applications and git repositories.


gem install sekrets


sekrets provides commandline tools and a library to manage and access encrypted files in your code base.

It allows one to check encrypted information into a repository and to manage it alongside the rest of the code base. It eliminates the need to check in unencrypted information, keys, or other sensitive information.

sekrets provides both a general mechanism for managing arbitrary encrypted files and a specific mechanism for managing encrypted config files.


create an encrypted config file

ruby -r yaml -e'puts({:api_key => 1234}.to_yaml)' | sekrets write config/settings.yml.enc --key 42

display it

sekrets read config/settings.yml.enc --key 42

edit it

sekrets edit config/settings.yml.enc --key 42

see that it's encrypted

cat config/settings.yml.enc

commit it

git add config/settings.yml.enc

put the decryption key in a file

echo 42 > .sekrets.key

ignore this file in git

echo .sekrets.key >> .gitignore

you now no longer need to provide the --key argument to commands

sekrets read config/settings.yml.enc
sekrets edit config/settings.yml.enc

make sure this file gets deployed on your server

echo " require 'sekrets/capistrano' " >> Capfile

commit and deploy

git add config/settings.yml.enc
git commit -am'encrypted settings yo'
git pull && git push && cap staging deploy

access these settings in your application code

settings = Sekrets.settings_for('./config/settings.yml.enc')


gem 'sekrets' # Gemfile

bundle install

rake sekrets:generate:key
rake sekrets:generate:editor
rake sekrets:generate:config


for all operations, from the command line or otherwise, sekrets uses the following algorithm to search for a decryption key:

  • any key passed directly as a parameter to a library call will be preferred
  • otherwise the code looks for a companion key file. for example, given the file config/sekrets.yml.enc sekrets will look for a key at config/.sekrets.yml.enc.key
  • If either of these is found to be non-empty the contents of the file will be used as the decryption key for that file. You should never commit these key files and also add them to your .gitignore - or similar.
  • Next a project key file is looked for. The path of this file is ./.sekrets.key normally and, in a rails' application RAILS_ROOT/.sekrets.key
  • If that is not found sekrets looks for the key in the environment under the env var SEKRETS_KEY (the env var used is configurable in the library)
  • Next the global key file is search for, the path of this file is ~/.sekrets.key
  • Finally, if no key has yet been specified or found, the user is prompted to input the key. Prompt only occurs if the user us attached to a tty. So, for example, no prompt will hang an application being started in the background (such as a rails' application being managed by passenger).

see Sekrets.key_for for explicit details


sekrets does not attempt to solve the key distribution problem for you, with one exception:

If you are using capistrano to do a vanilla ssh based deploy, a simple recipe is provided which will detect a local keyfile and scp it onto the remote server(s) on deploy.

sekrets assumes that the local keyfile, if it exists, is correct.

In plain english the capistrano recipe does:

scp ./sekrets.key

It goes without saying that the local keyfile should never be checked in and also should be in .gitignore.

Distribution of this key among developers is outside the scope of the library. Encrypted email is likely the best mechanism for distribution, but you've still got to solve this problem for yourself ;-/


sekrets is a command line tool and library used to securely manage encrypted files and settings in your rails' applications and git repositories.







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