Switching to Bitwarden

Posted by Ryan Himmelwright on Fri, Sep 13, 2019
Tags linux, homelab, dotfiles, security
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After years of using pass as my password manager, I am mixing things up. Over vacation, I started importing all of my passwords into Bitwarden. With all my passwords finally transferred, I have now switched to using Bitwarden full-time. Here are my thoughts so far.

Why Switch?

Before I start, I want to point out that I had already started my switch before the large Bitwarden segment on the recent episode of Linux Unplugged. That was just a re-assuring coincidence :) .

So, why did I decide to switch?

Easier Setup

Bitwarden on Flathub Page

Bitwarden on Flathub

The main reason is that when configuring a new system, Bitwarden is simply easier to setup. All I need to do is install a Bitwarden client and login. In fact, using the hosted service I don’t even need to do that. I can just login using the web vault. Installing is made even easier by the fact that Bitwarden is packaged as a Flatpak on flathub. So on my Fedora Silverblue computers, it works out of the box and already fits in with the design philosophy behind Silverblue (running all user apps in containers). Perfect.

Mobile Support

Bitwarden on Flathub Page

Over the past few months I have been switching up the tools I use, at least the ones I use outside of work. The big driving force behind many of these switches is better mobile support. While I still prefer to keep as much data off of my phone as possible, there are some things I need to have on the go. My password manager is unfortunately one of them.

Additionally, as I start to test out different workloads on alternative devices like my ipad, having a mobil-friendly work flow is a godsend. In fact, trying to setup pass on my iPad is what eventually frustrated me enough to give Bitwarden a chance.

Setup on both my phone and ipad was dead-simple. Install the app, and login. Done.

Wayland Friendly

Wayland logo

One of the best features of my pass system was how well it was integrated with my desktop environment. However, I want to switch to wayland now more than ever, but my pass desktop integration is the biggest blocker preventing me from using it on my machines. I access pass using launcher applications like dmenu and rofi… but they do not function correctly in wayland. This forced me to use pass from a terminal window while in a wayland session. Bitwarden, at least the limited GUI interactions I’ve used thus far, appears to work just fine in wayland.

Easier to share/expand

Lastly, if my wife eventually wants to switch to Bitwarden, I think we can share our joint passwords with each other, even being on just the free personal plan. If not, we can upgrade to the “family plan” which is currently $1/mo and allows unlimited collections across 5 accounts and optional self hosting. For shared family password management… that’s a great deal.

What I am still learning

Normally, this is where I list the few things that I “don’t like”. However, this still is all new and I think the majority of my current issues are solvable, but I just haven’t figured it out yet. So it’s a “What I’m still learning” section this time (•‿•) .

Better keyboard/DE integration

The main feature I still seem to be missing is better keyboard support/integration with the desktop environment. The GUI app is nice, and Bitwarden has much better support for browser extensions and tools. Yet, I haven’t found a good way to open up Bitwarden (give my master password), search for an item, and copy the password… all from the keyboard.

passmenu lets you easily search and select a pass item.

By comparison, pass let me integrate with launchers like dmenu and rofi to efficiently grab my passwords which was awesome. As mentioned a few sections above, passmenu unfortunately falls apart for me these days now that I am mostly on wayland… but I don’t need a full launcher. Honestly, all I need is the ability to copy a password (and maybe other fields) using my keyboard once I have selected an item. I can already search using ctrl-f + tab, and then arrow my way down the list, but once there I cannot copy unless I continue to tab through all the options. This is not efficient and defeats the purpose of remaining on the keyboard in the first place.

This is a highly requested feature, and I’m sure someone has hacked some solution together… I just have yet to find it… or implement it myself.

Conclusion

That is it. TLDR; I’ve switched to Bitwarden and have been using it as my main password manager for almost a month and I love it. It works on all my devices and doesn’t give me too many headaches. My only real complaint is that I wish it had better keyboard support, but I’m sure I’ll be able to figure out a work-around eventually.

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