I'm big fan of open source software, a die-hard Linux user since 2K, and an live-long Christian :-D

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Vault: securing passwords on my laptop

Oh no, passwords!

My laptop is my main computing device and I have lots of passwords that I keep in a KeePass store. This store I access interactively through the Kee Firefox Extension which works great. However, I have a bunch of applictions on my laptop that need access to my plain text groupware password and this didn't work so great with KeePass. For a long time I kept the passwords in various configuration files including netrc. This is not very secure plus it's a pain to change my password because of many places it's stored at.

For improving this situation I probably could've used the system password store. I decided against it because I didn't want to deal with the various wallet applications that come attached to it, e.g. Kwallet. Instead, I decided to give vault a try. It's less a single user application and more an enterprise grade password store with very detailed access control mechanisms that might come in handy if I decide to store many more things in there.

In this first exploration I set up a local vault installation and integrate it with msmtp, offlineimap and vdirsyncer for a comprehensive and secure groupware and email setup.


Make sure that the vault executable on Linux has the appropriate capabilities to use mlock without root privileges. This command sets the capabilities:

sudo setcap cap_ipc_lock=+ep $(readlink -f $(which vault))

Set up consul (not required!!!)

First I got the impression that consul is required in order to run vault. Only later on I realized that this is not the case because vault also supports storing everything on the local filesystem which is sufficient for me. I'll leave the configuration here in case I need to set up a distributed vault server.

Consul is the storage backend for Vault and should therefore be set up first.


    "datacenter": "jc",
    "data_dir": "/home/jceb/.config/vault/consul",
    "log_level": "INFO",  <-- has to be adjusted later on to WARN or so
    "node_name": "torch",
    "server": true,
    "bootstrap": true,  <-- Key to have it run as the first (only) server
    "bind_addr": "",  <-- Run it only privately on this computer
    "ports": {  <-- disable unused services
        "dns": -1,
        "https": -1

Run server with consul agent -config-file /home/jceb/.config/vault/consul.json

Set up vault

Actually, vault doesn't need consul. It can also run with a file backend.


    "storage": {
        "file": {
            "path": "~/.config/vault/vault"
    "listener": {
        "tcp": {
            "address": "",
            "tls_disable": 1

Run server with vault server -log-level=info -config /home/jceb/.config/vault/vault.json

Initialize vault with

  • export VAULT_ADDR=
  • vault operator init
  • Store unseal keys - you need them every time vault is restarted and also right now.
  • Unseal vault via vault operator unseal

lvault command

For convenience reasons I created the lvault command that will access the local vault server without having to export VAULT_ADDRESS globally:

VAULT_ADDR= exec vault "$@"

Create a policy and a role

Policies are there to restrict/grant access in one place for as many concrete tokens as you like. Policies can be combined into roles that make it even easier to control access.

First, create a policy that only grants access to the password that will be store in the vault: lvault policy write password -

path "secret/password" {
    capabilities = ["read"]

Second, create a role that integrates the just created policy: lvault write auth/token/roles/simpleapp @..

  "allowed_policies": "password",
  "name": "simpleapp",
  "orphan": false,
  "renewable": true


Create an acces token for an application

Create the new token: lvault token create -role=simpleapp -display-name=msmtp

Store token (not the accessor token which is only the identifier of the token) in an encrypted file gpg -eq > ~/.msmtp.key.gpg.

Store secret in vault

Authenticate as root and store the secert:

  1. lvault login
  2. lvault write secert/password @..
    "username": "<username>",
    "value": "<password>"

Authenticate with token and access secret

Unfortunately, the vault command will store the current token in ~/.vault-token which will cause different programs to compete with one another for storing their token in there.
gpg -dq ~/.msmtp.key.gpg | lvault auth -

lvault read -field=value secret/password

Solution: don't store the token instead use curl. Store the following line in file lvault-read

gpg -dq "$1" | paste ~/.local/bin/lvault-read.header - | curl -s --header @- --request GET "${2:-secret/password}" | jq -r "${3:-.data.value}"

File ~/.local/bin/lvault-read.header contains:


Configure msmtp and offlineimap


Add the following line to your account in ~/.msmtprc:

passwordeval lvault-read ~/.msmtp.key.gpg


Add the following line to your repository in ~/.offlineimaprc:

remotepasseval = lvault_read()

And this line to the general section:

pythonfile = ~/.offlineimap/remotepasseval.py

And store these contents in ~/.offlineimap/remotepasseval.py:

from subprocess import check_output
from os.path import expanduser

def lvault_read():
    res = check_output(['lvault-read', expanduser('~/.offlineimap.key.gpg')])
    return res.decode().strip()


Add the following lines to the storage configuration in ~/.config/vdirsyncer/config:

username.fetch = ["command", "lvault-read", "~/.config/vdirsyncer/vdirsyncer.key.gpg", "", ".data.email"]
password.fetch = ["command", "lvault-read", "~/.config/vdirsyncer/vdirsyncer.key.gpg"]

WIFIonICE in conflict with Docker

Make Deutsche Bahn WiFi work with a Linux laptop + Docker

tl;dr WiFi doesn't work because you have Docker installed on your laptop! Shutdown Docker and surf happily ever after.

Big shout out to Armbruster IT that led me in their blog post to the issue of Docker's network configuration that overlaps with Deutsch Bahn Wifi. In the follwoing post I'll walk you through moving the Docker's networks to different IP address ranges.

Identifying the issue

On the trains of Deutsche Bahn WiFi uses the IP networks to Docker's default network sits right in the middle and might interfere with DB WiFi on some trains. In addition, Docker allows user defined bridge networks that occupy additional IP networks. If you're using docker-compose these additional networks are automatically created right behind the default network, e.g. starting at This will increase the chances of Docker interfering with DB WiFi. In fact, I wasn't able to use DB WiFi for long time on my laptop.

There are two ways of finding out whether your laptop is affected by the issue. First, connect to DB WiFi.

Option 1: Right-click on the network icon in the system tray and open Connection Information. Compare the IP addresses of all network interfaces. If the same IP network is used on multiple interfaces your laptop is affected by the issue.

WIFIonICE in conflict with Docker

Option 2: Open a terminal and list all IP network routes by running the command ip r s. The output should look something like this. In my case multiple network bridges have been created by Docker, one of them is using the same IP network ( as my WiFi interface (wlp59s0).

% ip r s
default via dev wlp59s0 proto dhcp metric 600 dev wlp59s0 scope link metric 1000 dev docker0 proto kernel scope link src linkdown dev wlp59s0 proto kernel scope link src metric 600 dev br-1364b6d8194f proto kernel scope link src linkdown dev br-c66b62063149 proto kernel scope link src linkdown

BTW, I didn't experience any network issues in the DB Lounge. These Wifi networks use completely different IP address ranges that are most common in home network settings.

Solving the issue

Quick an dirty (temporary)

The easiest solution is to temporarily shutdown Docker. The following terminal command should do that on all Linux systems that use systemd: sudo systemctl stop docker.service

Now, reconnect to DB Wifi end enjoy the trip :-D

Start Docker again after leaving the train: sudo systemctl start docker.service

Permanent fix

In order to fix the issue the Docker configuration file /etc/docker/daemon.json has to be adjusted (or created if it doesn't exist yet) and the currently configured Docker bridges need to be cleaned up.


Let's first do the cleanup. If you've used docker-compose before a number of networks have been created that need to be removed manually. Let's list all Docker networks: sudo docker network ls

% sudo docker network ls
NETWORK ID          NAME                            DRIVER              SCOPE
428fdda9c2b5        bridge                          bridge              local
1364b6d8194f        project_network                 bridge              local
82bc0405ed96        host                            host                local
029f363dbb5a        none                            null                local

You can ignore the networks with the names bridge, host, and none because they're internal Docker networks. In my case the only relevant network is project_network. To remove it take the network id and feed it into the remove command: sudo docker network rm [NETWORK ID]

Now, the network list should only contain the internal Docker networks:

% sudo docker network ls
NETWORK ID          NAME                            DRIVER              SCOPE
428fdda9c2b5        bridge                          bridge              local
82bc0405ed96        host                            host                local
029f363dbb5a        none                            null                local

Hint: Sometimes a network configuration is hard-coded in the docker-compose.yml configuration file. In this case removing the network now will only fix the issue until you run docker-compose again. For a permanent fix adjust the network configuration in your project.

Adjust daemon.json

The last step is to adjust the Docker daemon configuration. We'll set the IP address and network of the default Docker network bridge and we'll also specify one or multiple IP address pools that are used to create networks by docker-compose. Pick two free IPv4 networks (one for the Docker network bridge and the other for the address pool) that are not in conflict with any of the networks that you're using on a regular basis.

Stop Docker: sudo systemctl stop docker.service

Create the file /etc/docker/daemon.json with the following content and replace the IP address and the IP networks:

        "bip": "",
        "fixed-cidr": "",
        "default-address-pool": [{"scope":"local","base":"","size":24}]

Hint: The IP address pool can only be set in the configuration if you're using a recent version of Docker. The feature has been integrated in March 2018.

Start Docker again (sudo systemctl stop docker.service) and test (ip r s) if the configuration is correct. Connect to the Wifi and enjoy the ride :-D


It took a good deal of research to find the solution and it also takes a bit of effort to configure it. Unfortunately, the issue could easily pop up again in a different network. With IPv4 we have to be on the watch - a truly permanent solution doesn't exist. Hope you'll not run into it any time soon.