Gem Version Build Status

arcānus: hidden, secret, private, mysterious

arcanus is Ruby-based tool to make working with encrypted secrets in your git repositories easier, especially in a large team.

It is inspired by Chamber, which supports more integrations, but may be harder to get started with. arcanus tries to be simpler in what features it offers.

If you're using git and Ruby and are looking for a way to store static (i.e. not frequently-changing) secrets, it's an excellent tool.


  • Ruby 2.1+


Installing Arcanus in a repository for the very first time

If you are introducing Arcanus to a repository, run:

cd path/to/your/repo
gem install arcanus
arcanus setup

The wizard will guide you though the remaining steps.

Working in a repository with Arcanus already installed

If the repository is already set up to use Arcanus, you simply need to unlock the protected key with the password that was used to encrypt it when the original developer ran arcanus setup. Ideally this password will be stored in a shared password manager used by your team.

cd path/to/your/repo
gem install arcanus
arcanus unlock

The wizard will guide you through the unlock process.


All commands are of the form arcanus command, where command is from the list below. Help documentation will be shown if no command is provided.

diff [ref]

Shows a patch diff of what has changed between the current chest and a revision (by default, HEAD). Assumes you are using git for source control.

This is useful because while the file on disk will have encrypted blobs, this will show the diff of decrypted values, making it easier to verify your changes.

edit [key-path] [value]

Edits the content of the chest with the editor specified by your $EDITOR environment variable.

You can optionally specify a key path (i.e. and a value to modify a single value at a time from the command line without opening an editor. The key path must already exist, i.e. you cannot use this form to add a new key.

Note: Care should be taken when adding secrets via the command line, since they may be kept in your shell history. Some shells automatically filter out commands which are prefixed with a space.

export [--type]

Outputs the decrypted values in a format suitable for consumption by other programs.

The command optionally allows you to specify the type of format.

Default (no flag specified)

By default, export will output in a format to make variables accessible in your local shell, but will not export those values so that they are passed to other programs invoked by your shell. Thus you could write a bash script like:

echo ${SOME_SECRET:-not-defined}
eval $(arcanus export)



--shell (export shell variables)

Similar to the default, but export the variables.

echo ${SOME_SECRET:-not-defined}
eval $(arcanus export --shell)



--docker (docker env-file)

If you are running containers which need environment variables passed to them, you can use the --docker flag to export them in an unescaped format that Docker will parse.

docker run --rm --env-file <(arcanus export --docker) -it centos:7.1.1503 env



Note: We're using the process substitution operator <(...) so we don't need to create any temporary files.


Display a quick summary of available commands.


Creates an Arcanus chest in the current repository.

This is an interactive wizard that will generate a key and lock it using a password of your choosing.

show [key-path]

Decrypts and displays the entire contents of the chest.

You can optionally specify a key path (i.e. to display a single key, which is useful in shell scripts that don't need access to all the secrets in the chest.


Unlocks the key so that the chest can be opened without a password.

This command will be run by other developers who are working with the repository for the first time. In order to view/edit secrets, they'll need the original password used during arcanus setup so that they can unlock their local key and not have to enter the password again.


Displays the Arcanus version.


Arcanus exposes a simple API for retrieving your secrets in Ruby applications.

Assuming Arcanus is already setup in your repository via arcanus setup/arcanus unlock, you can write something like:

require 'arcanus'

... = Arcanus.chest['some_key']['my_secret']


When running tests in a CI environment on a repo protected by Arcanus, you can specify your password via the ARCANUS_PASSWORD environment variable. Arcanus will unlock the protected key but will not save the unprotected key file.


This project is released under the MIT license.