Archive for the ‘KeyStore Explorer’ category

KeyStore Explorer Now Open Source

October 19, 2013

KeyStore Explorer (KSE), in its various guises, is a PKI desktop application project I have worked solo on since 2001. While it started as open source software it has been a closed project for most of the subsequent time. For the last year development has stalled due to a lack of motivation on my part. My concern has been that my lack of activity would lead to the whole project dying.

I am therefore happy to report that KSE is now officially open source software. The new owner Kai Kramer answered my call to arms and has been busy since late July remediating all of the impediments to open sourcing the application, completing the features I had slated for version 4.2 and adding extra functionality. The result is KSE 5.0 which is licensed under GPL Version 3.

The old KSE website has been decomissioned and now redirects to KSE’s new home at SoureForge

Release notes for 5.0 are available here. Executable downloads for the usual supported platforms are available here. Finally the highlight is the availability, for the first time since 2004, of the source code.

For my own part, I will be stepping back completely from the project to let Kai and the community take KSE forward.


KeyStore Explorer – OSS Update

August 31, 2013

A month ago I wrote about a new owner having been identified for KeyStore Explorer (KSE). This post comprises an interim update on the new owner’s progress in taking over the application.

The new owner has been very busy over the last four weeks and has, in a relatively short space of time, removed all impediments to open sourcing the code base. This involved replacing a third party ASN.1 library (which was used extensively by KSE) with calls to Bouncy Castle.

In addition most of KSE’s icons were sourced from the commercial Icon Experience set. The new owner has replaced these icons with the Fugue set created by Yusuke Kamiyamane.

The new icons give the application a new look:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

We have have also settled on an OSS license we are both comfortable with: GPL v3.

Upcoming work by the new owner will complete my unfinished work on new features for version 4.2 and perhaps add a few more items of functionality.

There is still a lot of work to be done but I am confident that KSE is in good hands.

New Owner Found for KeyStore Explorer

July 30, 2013

In October last year I wrote a post asking for a new owner to take over and open source my neglected KeyStore Explorer application. I am pleased to say that someone has stepped up to the plate. The individual concerned is an experienced developer currently employed in the PKI industry.

I have handed the code over to the new owner who has started the process of removing the various impediments to open sourcing the project. Current expectations are that it could take 1-2 months to complete this task but this could change as it is a fairly large job. The current choice of OSS license is LGPL – again this could change before the OSS release.

I will provide more details closer to the OSS conversion work being completed.

New Owner Wanted for KeyStore Explorer

October 18, 2012

Update – New Owner Found.

“Owner wanted for a ten year old freeware key management application that answers to the name KeyStore Explorer. KeyStore Explorer is fun and rewarding to maintain, has a clean codebase and comes packed with utility. However, this mature application still has a lot of potential for a new owner to add useful functionality. KeyStore Explorer’s author can no longer take care of it and so KeyStore Explorer requires a new home to get the love and attention it deserves.”

Okay, so KeyStore Explorer (KSE) is not an old dog looking for a home. However, it does require help if it is to continue to evolve.

Since KSE went freeware it has become increasingly popular. With more than 1,500 downloads every month I like to think that it is helping lots of folks out. However, it pains me to admit that, after ten years of development, I am no longer the best person to look after KSE. this is because I no longer have the time to maintain it, far less drive it forward.

What I do not want is for KSE to die a slow death because I am not prepared to let go of the helm. So I am using this blog post as an advertisement to attract a new steward for the utility. I am open to ideas as to what type of ownership this would entail although open sourcing the application seems a logical choice which I am in no way opposed to. Continuing the application as a freeware application or commercialising it are other (less attractive) options that have occurred to me.

You may ask why I don’t just open source it myself. Well there are two reasons. Reason number one is that open sourcing and simply casting the application to the void is not enough to ensure the application’s future. I believe that there has to be a defined owner or owners to take charge of its direction. Reason number two is that there are a couple of impediments that will need to be overcome before the codebase is open source compliant. These impediments are not trivial but nor are they, in my opinion, insurmountable with the current availability of open source alternatives.

You may get the impression from the paragraph above that I just want to chuck the codebase at a willing participant and walk away. What I propose instead is that I provide the successful applicant(s) with the following:

  • The full codebase including the mostly complete, unreleased version 4.2 features.
  • Licenses  for all supporting tools and third party libraries.
  • Ownership of the existing domain for long term use or as a means of redirect to a new home for KSE.
  • My ongoing support via email with any questions regarding the application and codebase.

All I require, as the original author, is that my name remain associated with KSE.

If you would like to be the new owner of KSE and think you can do the application justice then drop me a line at the Lazgo Software contact page. We can talk details and I will endeavour to answer any questions you may have. If a deal is struck I will post the outcome on this blog.

A History of KeyStore Explorer – Part Three

May 18, 2012

KeyStore Explorer (KSE) has existed, in one form or another, since 2002. These days it is a freeware offering but it has not always been that way. KSE started as an open source project before morphing into a commercial project. It is only relatively recently that it was re-licensed to be free for all to use once again. As the utility is now almost ten years old I feel it is a good time to write a potted history of KSE.

This post continues from Part Two and concludes the history.

KSE Freeware

This history continues in late 2009. At the time version 3.4 of the commercial KeyStore Explorer (KSE) was under development but I was growing bored with it. Managing a business was losing its appeal and I was running out of ideas for new features.

First of all I resolved to close Lazgo Software as an enterprise so that I could reclaim the time it was taking to run it. However, before I could do that I would have to cease selling KSE. I was reluctant to go back to an open source model so decided to try something different again by making KSE freeware. This would allow me to keep the utility available to those who had paid for it and make it available to a larger audience without giving away my IP. After putting so much effort into the code I was reluctant to give it away again.

To differentiate the freeware version from the commercial versions I gave it a new major version number of 4.0. Despite the version jump the only difference between 4.0 and 3.3 was the inclusion of the minor features I had already developed for 3.4 and an absence of any licensing code. KSE 4.0 was released in April 2010. I started the process of killing Lazgo Software Ltd immediately after that.

With version 4.0 released I started development of 4.1. I wanted to see if I retained any interest in KSE now that I was free of the shackles of the business. The focus of 4.1 was to expand the selection of signature algorithms to include the various extended length SHA variations. This would be tricky as it would require an upgrade of the Bouncy Castle libraries and therefore the provision of a mechanism for users to upgrade their JRE’s crypto strength. I got some way through the implementation but it took many months to get there. Finally I simply ran out of steam. It was time to park KSE and come back to a decision on its future at a later date.

I took a break and dabbled in a few other pet projects instead. The most enjoyable was my time spent writing a turn-based zombie strategy game, inspired by the classic game Laser Squad, using Microsoft C# and XNA. That was great fun although I have never finished it. I did a lot of studying and dabbled in mathematics and meteorology. It was also during this time that I started blogging on topics including my experiences with scrum, agile and amateur meteorology. It was great having so much free time again. Nine months passed pleasantly without my touching KSE or deciding what to do with it.


In September 2011 I picked KSE development back up again. I can’t remember why but I just had an urge one morning to start hacking away at it again. It was tough getting back into it after so long away. Nonetheless I quickly found I was enjoying it again. My enthusiasm for KSE was back and I resolved to get 4.1 out the door as soon as possible.

In the 18 months since 4.0 had been released I had noticed a marked increase in the number of downloads KSE was enjoying. It was a no-brainer working out why that was happening. An application will be more popular if it is free as opposed to paid-for. I reckoned that I may be able to leverage the application’s growing user base by combining it with my new-found interest in blogging.

The idea was to start telling users exactly what I had planned for KSE and to publicly invite suggestions for enhancements. Even if I ran out of ideas to progress KSE’s feature set a motivated user-base never would. In addition I could offer a beta test programme for 4.0 and get extra testing from real users. This would be a massive help to me if it worked out.

Using this blog I posted the development updates, invited users to submit enhancements and got a beta test program up and running. The reaction from users was pretty awesome. Many people gave up their time to test and submit bug reports and many more provided their own ideas to improve KSE. I have no doubt that the first beta test programme for 4.1 led to a better finished product. In addition the backlog of user submitted enhancements I am even now working through will continue this process of improvement.

Buoyed by the feedback I hammered through the remaining features of 4.1 making a final release available in March 2012. The expanded signature algorithm support was the main feature but many smaller enhancements were also included.

It is now May 2012 so that pretty much brings the history up to date. Work on 4.2 has started and is progressing well. Of the enhancements that will feature in 4.2 every single one is based on a user suggestion. I’m now confident that running out of ideas is no longer going to be an issue so I’ll be continuing development of KSE for the foreseeable future.

KeyStore Explorer 4.2 Proposed Features

April 24, 2012

After a not so fun time last week dealing with the ‘java.lang.IllegalStateException: no splash screen available’ bug I thought I’d post some positive KeyStore Explorer news. Specifically that I have settled on a set of features to comprise version 4.2.

They are as follows:

Secret/Symmetric key generation

Up until now I have neglected to add secret key support in KSE. However, now that even keytool supports secret keys I’m eager to catch up. From 4.2 KSE will be capable of generating 25 different types of secret key entries. This feature is already complete. See the screenshot below for a list of support algorithms.

Click to enlarge

Extended support for Key entries

Secret keys are stored in key entries within KeyStores. Key entries also support storage of lone private or public keys. Until now users of KSE have only been able to delete key entries regardless of what was stored within them. From 4.2 (where the KeyStore type allows it) key entries can be examined, unlocked, have their passwords changed, be renamed, be cut/copy/pasted and preserved when a KeyStore changes type. This feature is almost complete.

Examine CSR

Currently KSE allows CSRs to be generated and signed. In 4.2 it will also be possible to view their details.

Support more KeyStore file extensions

A basic change to support some of the rarer KeyStore file extensions in the various file dialogs (.jceks, .bks, .uber, etc).

Remember last file directory between sessions

Another basic (and self-explanatory) change.

Direct Certificate import and export from Certificate Details dialog

This feature will the direct import as a Trusted Certificate entry of any certificate from the Examine Certificate dialog. No more viewing the certificate’s PEM, exporting it and then re-importing it will be required.

Fixed: java.lang.IllegalStateException: no splash screen available

April 16, 2012

The issue I posted about last night, java.lang.IllegalStateException: no splash screen available, has now been fixed.

Simply uninstall version 4.1 and download and install the patched version 4.1.1.