Security

How to install and use the PassFF Firefox password manager

Searching for a more efficient way to securely manage website passwords? PassFF may be your solution.

We all need to start using a password manager. But to some, making use of such a tool is just another link in an already lengthening chain. But what if you could use a Firefox browser password manager that makes everything a bit more secure and efficient? If that sounds like something you'd like to try, I have just the tool for you. The primary tool is the PassFF Firefox extension. This tool works in conjunction with the pass command to create a very user-friendly password manager for Firefox.

This tool can be used on both Linux and macOS (sorry, Windows users). I'm going to demonstrate how to install and use the necessary pieces on Elementary OS. The process isn't challenging, but there are a few moving pieces. Let's install.

SEE: Password Management Policy (Tech Pro Research)

QTPass

The first thing we are going to do is install QTPass. This is a GUI frontend for the pass command (which makes using pass quite a bit easier). To install QTPass, open a terminal window and issue the command:

sudo apt-get install qtpass

Once that is installed, open the app from your desktop menu. You will then need to click on the Config icon (gear button). In the settings window (Figure A), make sure that Use Pass is selected in the Programs tab.

Figure A

Figure A

Configuring the password storage program.


Click OK to close that window. Before we continue, you do need to have a GPG key. If you don't have one, you'll want to create that key with either your desktop GUI (such as Seahorse) or from the command line. Next click on the Users button. In this window (Figure B), select which GPG key user you want to use for password manager authentication.

Figure B

Figure B

Selecting a user with a GPG key.


Click OK.

At this point, you can click the Add button (from the main window), and start adding login credentials to be stored.

Installing PassFF

Next, we need to install the PassFF Firefox extension. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Click the Menu button.
  3. Click Add-ons.
  4. Click Extensions
  5. Search for PassFF
  6. In the extension page, click Add to Firefox
  7. When prompted, click Add

In order for the PassFF extension to work with the pass command, you must install a host application. To do this, download the install_host_app.sh script from the release page. With that file saved in your ~/Downloads directory, open a terminal window, and issue the following commands:

cd ~/Downloads
chmod u+x install_host_app.sh
sh install_host_app.sh firefox

Using PassFF

Say you've added the credentials for a specific URL into QTPass. Head over to that URL in Firefox, and then click the PassFF icon in the Firefox toolbar. In the resulting drop-down (Figure C), search for the entry for this URL and, when it appears, click on it, and then select either Fill or Fill and Submit. You will then be prompted for the GPG key for the user you selected in the QTPass setup.

Figure C

Figure C

The PassFF drop-down.


Once you successfully authenticate against the GPG key, PassFF will auto-fill the username and password for this website. Without that GPG key password, PassFF will refuse to fill in the website credentials.

You can also create a new entry for PassFF, by clicking the + button from the drop-down (so you don't have to return to QTPass).

Password Management made easy

Outside of the multi-step setup, using PassFF as a website password manager makes this process so much more efficient. You no longer have to go to a URL, open your password manager, search for the entry, view the password, and copy the password into the site.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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