This documentation is for an older version of DisPass. Please visit the version overview

Passphrase generator for GNU/Linux, *BSD, MacOS X and Windows.

DisPass is a password manager for GNU/Linux, *BSD, MacOS X and Windows. It can be used as any traditional password manager, but has one key difference. DisPass does not store your passwords anywhere, so you can never lose them.

It creates strong and unique passphrases formed from a master password and a label (and some optional parameters), helping you get rid of the bad habit of using a single password for multiple websites.

Dispass is a console application, but also has a simple graphical interface.

Screenshots DisPass is not eye-candy :)

DisPass has several (official) homes on the Internet:

Main website
The cheeseshop (PyPI) project page
Github repository and Issue tracker
Emacs wrapper (by Tom Willemsen)
Ohloh project page
Bitbucket repository

Project Statistics (by ohloh)


Here are some definitions which may help you understand the rest of the documentation better.

Since DisPass asks for a password/passphrase to generate another password/passphrase, things may get a bit confusing. I've dediced to use the words 'password' and 'passphrase' diffently and consistent.

A label is a string that you use to identify the passphrase. This can be a domainname of the service the passphrase is used for, e.g. ''.
Use of the word 'password' is dedicated to the input password, i.e. the password you are asked to enter and only you know. Whenever you read password, this is the one I mean. The password needs to be at least 8 characters long and does not have a maximum length.
With 'passphrase' I always mean the output passphrase, i.e. the passphrase that is unique and generated from a label, password and sequence number. Generated passphrases are 30 characters long. The length can be optionally changed.

Downloading / Installing

Python 2.7 or higher is required for running dispass.

Using pip to download from the Python Package Index

The recommended way is to download and install directly from the PyPI repository using pip:

$ sudo pip install dispass

You must have python's docutils installed in able to do so. This will install the dispass module in python's dist-packages folder. You can now use dispass by executing the dispass, dispass-label and/or gdispass scripts placed under /usr/local/bin/ or /usr/bin/.

The PyPI project page is at

Latest (development) version

Clone git repo:

$ git clone git://
$ cd dispass

Then you can either

  1. Install via Makefile, this will perform all the steps in option 2 (below):
    $ sudo make install
  2. Install through pip, and install manpage:
    $ python sdist
    $ sudo pip install dist/DisPass-<version>.tar.gz
    $ sudo gzip -c dispass.1 > dispass.1.gz
    $ sudo mv dispass.1.gz /usr/share/man/man1/
  3. Install manually
    $ sudo python install

Upgrade or uninstall

You can easily upgrade to newer versions using pip:

$ sudo pip install --upgrade dispass

If you have installed dispass using pip, you can easily uninstall at any moment:

$ sudo pip uninstall dispass

Using the dispass command line app

When DisPass is executed as gdispass or dispass -g, the graphical version will be started.

You can use dispass by entering your labels after the dispass command and/or you can store your labels in a textfile called a labelfile.

USAGE: dispass [options]
       dispass [options] <label> [<label2>] [label3]  [...]

Options (general):
-c, --create    use if this passphrase is new (check input PW)
-g, --gui       start guided graphical version of DisPass
-h, --help      show this help and exit
-o, --output    output passphrases to stdout
                (instead of the more secure way of displaying via curses)
-V, --version   show full version information and exit
--script        optimize input/output for 'wrapping' dispass

Options (when using labelfile):
-s <string>, --search=<string>      dispass label from file that uniquely
                                    matches <string>
-f <labelfile>, --file=<labelfile>  set location of labelfile

Options (when passing labels as arguments):
-l <length>, --length=<length>      set length of passphrase
                                    (default: 30, max: 171)
-a <algorithm>, --algo=<algorithm>  override algorithm for generating
-n <number>, --number=<number>      override sequence number (default = 1)

Using dispass to create one or more passphrases

You can start using dispass for e.g. like this:

$ dispass -c

You can start using dispass for e.g. like this:

$ dispass

The passphrases created are 30 characters long by default, but some website's may not validate such a long passphrase or you might want to make it even longer. You can easily set a desired passphrase length using the -l flag. Hotmail passwords are limited to 16 characters:

$ dispass -l 18 hotmail

Generating passphrases for multiple labels is just as easy:

$ dispass google hotmail YaHo0 "P0551bly*a81t)H4rd2rmbr"

Labels are case-sensitive and digits and special characters can be used. You should try to name labels in a way that you can easily 'dispass' a passphrase on any computer/device that has DisPass at any given moment. You are encouraged to store your labels in a labelfile for convenience though.

Using a labelfile

When dispass is run without arguments it will try to find a labelfile. The location of this file varies and depends on the platform type you use, the file flag and the environment variables that may be set:

You can override the location of the labelfile using the -f flag. This can be a way for you to use different sets of labels/passphrases with a different 'master' password for each set.

  1. If the -f flag is given, that value is used.
  2. If environment var DISPASS_LABELFILE is set, that value is used.
  3. If environment var XDG_DATA_HOME is set, $XDG_DATA_HOME/dispass/labels is used.
  4. If none of the above applies, the labelfile will default to the following locations:
    • GNU/Linux and Mac OS X: ~/.dispass/labels
    • *BSD and other Unixen: ~/.dispass/labels
    • Windows: C:\Users\<username>\dispass\labels

You can edit the labelfile(s) by using the dispass-label program.

Creating and searching stored labels

When creating a new label/password combination you can store the label and it's arguments by using the -c flag, this will ask for your password twice so you can be asured to avoid typing errors:

$ dispass -c -l 16

Now you will be asked to enter a password twice and after that your passphrase will be shown on the screen. It can be re-created everytime you need it by searching for a label using the -s flag:

$ dispass -s hotm

Only part of the label is needed, as long as the (sub)string is unique.

Using the dispass-label command line app

USAGE: dispass-label [-hlV] [-f <labelfile>] [-a|--add <labelspec>]
        [-r|--remove Short options:
-h                  show this help and exit
-l                  print all labels and options found in labelfile
-V                  show full version information and exit
-f <labelfile>      set location of labelfile
-a <labelspec>      add a new label to the labelfile, the
                          labelspec looks like this:
-r <labelname>      remove a label from the labelfile

Long options:
--help               show this help and exit
--list               print all labels and options found in labelfile
--version            show full version information and exit
--file=<labelfile>   set location of labelfile
--add=<labelspec>    add a new label to the labelfile, the
                           labelspec looks like this:
--remove=<labelname> remove a label from the labelfile
--script             optimize input/output for 'wrapping' dispass-label

Using the graphical gdispass application

You can start using gDisPass by running the gdispass executable. Fill in a name for the label that you can easily remember.

To generate a passphrase for a new label, i.e. a label that you have never used before, check the appropiate checkbox. This will allow you to enter the (master) password twice. gDisPass will then compare the passwords to see if they are the same. This is needed to minimize the risk of typos. It is advised that you check the box everytime you create a passphrase for a new label.

Subsequential generation of passphrases for the same label most probably do not need this check. You will likely be warned when/if you made a typo by the system or website you want to authenticate for.

If you correctly entered a label and password, you can generate the passphrase by pressing or by clicking the appropiate button. The resulting passphrase will be focused and selected. On platforms that support it (e.g. *BSD or GNU/Linux) the passphrase will be automatically placed into your copy/paste buffer.

Resetting all fields when you are done or when you need to quickly cancel the generation (because someone is watching over your shoulders) can be done by pressing <Escape> or by clicking the appropiate button.

Got Emacs? You can use the Emacs wrapper

If you have Emacs you can use the Emacs wrapper created and maintained by Tom Willemsen (ryuslash).

You can find it at:

Wrapping / scripting dispass

You can use dispass entirely as you wish and create different interfaces by using the appropiate libraries as long as it is allowed by the ISC license.

Dispass provides a way to make the behaviour and IO more suitable for scripting by passing the --script option.


If the --script flag is passed together with --output the output will be optimized for easy parsing by other programs and scripts by always printing one entry on a single line using the following positions:

Column  1-50 : label


If the --script flag is passed together with --list the output will be optimized for easy parsing by other programs and scripts by not printing the header and always printing one entry on a single line using the following positions:

Column  1-50: label     (50 chars wide)
Column 52-54: length    ( 3 chars wide)
Column 56-70: hash algo (15 chars wide)

Otherwise an ascii table is printed with a variable width depending on the length of the longest label. The table has a header but does not display the hash algo until support for multiple hashing algos is added.

Support / ideas / questions / suggestions

Issue tracker at Github:

A mailing list is available:

You can also visit #dispass at Freenode ( with your favorite IRC client.


Many thanks go out to Tom (ryuslash) Willemsen for valuable contributions to gdispass and the new algorithm. He also wrote an awesome wrapper for Emacs so you can use DisPass in your favorite editor.


v0.2.0 released April 16th, 2013

The default location of labelfile has changed from:
  • *nix: ~/.dispass
  • Windows: C:\Users\<username>\.dispass
To the following location:
  • *nix: $XDG_DATA_HOME/dispass/labels or ~/.dispass/labels
  • Windows: C:\Users\<username>\dispass\labels
  • Add support for multiple algorithms
  • Add new algorithm Dispass2
  • Add -a, --algo option for specifying algorithm
  • Add -n, --number option for specifying sequence no
  • Add label length selection in gui
  • Add label/parameters selection in gui
  • Add interactive labelfile editor 'dispass-label'
  • Center the fields when the window gets bigger
  • Reset all fields in gdispass by pressing
  • Optionally quit gdispass with Ctrl-Q
  • Gracefully quit on (Ctrl-C) keyboard interrupt
  • Clear input fields after passphrase generation
  • Auto-select generated passphrase in gdispass
  • Generate passphrases in gdispass by pressing
  • Change default location of labelfile
  • Add dispass --script option
  • Add dispass-label for managing labelfiles
  • Use separate text for manpage instead of README
  • Add option to lookup a lable in with '-s' switch
  • Require a min. password length of 8 chars in cli
  • Rename ChangeLog -> ChangeLog.rst
  • Make DisPass run from Python shell without exiting
  • Remove dispass.el emacs wrapper, maintained separately by Tom Willemsen

v0.1-alpha-8 released June 21st, 2012

  • Add dispass.el emacs wrapper, authored by Tom Willemsen (ryuslash)
  • Allow generating a list of passphrases with varying lengths
  • Add labelfile handler and skel/dot.dispass
  • Add -f <labelfile>, --file=<labelfile> option
  • Use labelfile at $HOME/.dispass if no labels are specified
  • Add -l <length> --length= option
  • Do not autostart gui on Windows
  • Explicitly name the gui version 'gDisPass'
  • Autofill 1st column on output via stdout
  • Remove platform name from usage/help
  • Add manpage
  • Use a landing page for the html documentation

v0.1-alpha-7 released May 28th, 2012

  • Distribute as package instead of a single module
  • Add LICENSE file
  • Rename README to README.rst
  • Add 'master' Makefile for building documentation

v0.1-alpha-6 released May 24th, 2012

  • Initial release of Dispass as single python module

Software license

Copyright (c) 2011-2012 Benjamin Althues

Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software for any purpose with or without fee is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies.


Copyright © 2012 Benjamin Althues