Review – the KDE wallet extension to firefox

I recently tested the firefox extension “KDE Wallet password integration“, mainly in response to an opensuse forum question.  So I thought I would post a review of it here.

I tested this in my test-user account, rather than my regular account.  I had long ago decided that I probably didn’t want this extension for my regular use.  I’ll also explain that below.

What does it do?

The main purpose of this extension, is to allow firefox saved passwords, such as you might use to login to web sites, to be saved in KDE wallet (or “kwallet”), instead of the usual place where firefox saves it.  This protects the saved passwords, assuming that you have set a password to open kwallet.  And it allows you to keep passwords for various software components, all in the same place.

I’ll note that firefox already has its own password manager.  And if you set a master key in firefox, then passwords saved by the firefox password manager will also be protected (encrypted).  So use of this extension is mainly to move the password store into kwallet, to give you a single place where all passwords are saved.

How I tested

I logged into my test-user account on one of my computers (running opensuse 13.1), and started firefox.  I then browsed to the page for the extension, and clicked the “Add to Firefox” button.  After adding, firefox required that I restart the browser.

I then visited a web site where I have a login.  As soon as the site showed the login prompt, “kwallet” popped up, and asked me to configure it (by setting a password).  At that time, I also configured “kwallet” to always stay open.  Having configure “kwallet” (a one time affair), I was now prompted to open “kwallet” by providing its password.  I did that.

When I logged onto the site, it saved my password in “kwallet”.  I checked this by logging out from the site, and then returning.  As soon as the login prompt occurred, firefox filled in the saved information from “kwallet”.

As an additional test, I again logged out from the site.  I then closed the firefox browser.  Next, I restarted firefox, and again visited the web site.  Once again, it filled in the password.  I did not have to provide the “kwallet” password this time, because I had configured “kwallet” to stay open.  Of course, if I logout from KDE, then I will need to provide the password to open “kwallet” in my next login session.

As an additional test, I logged out from KDE, and logged into Gnome.  There, I started firefox.  And, when I visited that website where I login, I was prompted to open “kwallet”.  This test shows that I do not have to be in KDE to use the extension.  But, of course, I do need to have enough of KDE installed, so that kwallet is functional.

Firefox profiles

I closed firefox.  Then I ran the command

firefox -P

at a command line.  This starts the firefox profile manager.  I added a new profile.  Then I added the KDE wallet integration extension to the new profile.  And I visited the same web site.  And firefox filled in the password information from kwallet.

This is either a bug or a feature.  All of your firefox profiles will share all of the saved kwallet passwords, assuming that you use this extension for each.  You could, of course, use the extension only on your main browser, and use the firefox password manager on other profiles.

Overall assessment

The extension worked quite well.  Using it felt about the same as using the standard firefox password manager.  One benefit is that if you set kwallet to stay open, then you can close the browser and restart it, and immediately be able to use saved passwords — at least until you logout of KDE.

Why I don’t use it

I suppose this is mainly habit.  I’ve been setting a master password, and using the browser built-in password manager since the days of netscape.  So I am used to doing things that way.  Moreover, I use several different firefox profiles, and prefer to keep the passwords separate between those different profiles.

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About Neil Rickert

Retired mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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