Project Ägypten (Free Software Sphinx-Clients)

Please note the successor: Project Ägypten2: Improving Free Software Sphinx Clients

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The Sphinx project launched by German authorities aims to improve secure email exchange. The projects technological base is the protocol 'TeleTrust e.V. MailTrusT Version 2'. This includes the standards S/MIME, X.509v3 and others.

Proprietary products are already on the way, but with the project Ägypten there is now also a Free Software solution going to be realized for popular mail user agents (sphinx-enabling KMail and Mutt are essential goals).

The Free Software companies Intevation, g10 Code and Klarälvdalens Datakonsult AB are contracted by the German 'Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI)' to incorporate the Sphinx protocols into Free Software MUAs. Background is to ensure availability of alternatives to proprietary desktops.

Aims and Results

Within this project it is an explicit goal to produce sustainable improvements for the free software desktop and no quickly assembled code. The outcome of Ägypten consists of modular contributions to existing projects (there will be no single Ägypten package). These work together as an integrated solution for the users.

Rough list of aims and results:

  • Plug-In for KMail and Mutt (established)
  • LDAP support for Certificate Revocation Lists, CRLs (established)
  • incorporation of sphinx protocols in gpg framework (established)
  • X.509, PKCS10, PKCS11, PKCS12 and PKCS15 support (established)
  • parallel support of OpenPGP for KMail (established)
  • LDAP support for KMail address book (established)
  • All finished by summer 2002, alpha-version for CeBIT 2002, Hannover (official completion was on 27-November-2002)

Detailed list of results:

  • All improvements and new modules are integrated into the corresponding main developments (CVS HEAD) if not noted otherwise.
  • KMail: All modifications to KMail (adding PGP/MIME and S/MIME support) are officially available since KDE 3.1 release.
  • Mutt: A modified version based on 1.5.0 is available as a special package. Changes for a more flexible approach for different crypto-backends has been integrated into Mutt CVS HEAD. Eventually, the Ägypten patch may go into the CVS HEAD as well.
  • KAddressbook: LDAP support is added and available since KDE 3.1.
  • KGpgCertmanager: A new KDE application to manage the certificates through a GUI. Available since KDE 3.1.
  • NewPG: A new module that covers GpgSM (S/MIME encryption and key-management) and SCDaemon (for Smartcard access). This module will eventually be merged with GnuPG.
  • Pinentry: A new module that contains various interfaces (qt, gtk, curses, terminal) to enter a PIN/passphrase.
  • DirMngr: A new module that handles the Certificate Revocation Lists (CRLs).
  • GpgME: Extended to handle GnuPG (OpenPGP) and GpgSM (S/MIME) concurrently. Also a comprehensive documentation was written to support sphinx-enabling further MUAs.
  • GnuPG: Extended with GpgAgent that stores passphrases like ssh-agent does (available since GnuPG 1.2.0 release).
  • cryptplug: This new module is an optional interface layer between GpgME and a MUA. It is used for KMail, Mutt is directly coupled with GpgME.



  • 27-Aug-2013: Removed French and German pages as part of the migration of to a new system.
  • 31-Mar-2004: Linked Ägypten2 Project
  • 29-Jan-2003: Finally KDE 3.1 is out. Ägypten features are intergrated. Debian woody packages available.
  • 23-Feb-2004: Updated developer infos, including KDE 3.2.
  • 22-Aug-2002: Updated set of tarballs.
  • 07-Oct-2002: Again new tarballs.
  • 01-Aug-2002: Milestone 5 (external test) finished.
  • 04-Jun-2002: French web pages updated.
  • 15-May-2002: Updated set of tarballs including Sphinx-enabled Mutt.
  • 02-Apr-2002: Updated set of tarballs.
  • 21-Mar-2002: Technology description updated.
  • 13-20-Mar-2002: Ägypten in action at CeBIT Hall 11, Pav.D, Booth 10-12.
  • 26-Feb-2002: First set of tarballs prepared.
  • 31-Jan-2002: French web-pages contributed.
  • 04-Jan-2002: Right before christmas: first Sphinx en- and decryption via KMail works
  • 27-Nov-2001: First functionalities implemented, see development page
  • 15-Nov-2001: New web-page: Glossary
  • 26-Oct-2001: Web-pages: new: Public Relations, updated: Technology
  • 24-Oct-2001: Development: cvs and issue-tracker
  • 11-Oct-2001: new web pages on technology, who is involved, project schedule
  • 1-Oct-2001: project start, initial webpage


You can reach the project team on several mailing lists:

Project coordination:

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