Downgrade Yubioath Desktop from 4.x to 3.1.0 for Linux

Posted on 06 April 2017
3 minute read

I love my Yubikey Neo and use it many, many times daily on all 3 platforms (Linux, Mac and Windows). My primary OSes are Linux for my personal Lenovo laptop and my work-issued Macbook Pro. I recently upgraded Yubioath Desktop on my Linux box running Linux Mint to v4.0.1. This upgrade touted an improved user-interface amongst other fixes and improvements.. woohoo I thought to myself as although the previous version (3.1.0) was a fair improvement over 3.0.x, it wasn't without its issues.

The install went smooth as silk as was using their Ubuntu / Debian PPA to it was a simple case of apt upgrade yubioath-desktop. After the upgrade had completed, I ran it from the desktop and a shiny new application opened. At first glance, this looked good, but it wasn't long before IMO, there was a glaring issue... the items in the list were in some kind of who-knows-what illogical order. Version 4.x, like 3.1.0 does have a filter bar at the bottom, but one of my frequently used items is 'Amazon', which was always the first entry in the list, so I didn't need the filter bar for that. Right now, in version 4.0.1, I have no idea what position my Amazon item is in, only that it's buried deep somewhere in amongst the items.

The other big UX issue I noticed, was the code copying. Again, in v3.x, you could either click on the small copy button, or you could double-click on an item to copy the code to the clipboard. Version 4.x has done away with the copy button completely and has now moved that to a context menu item (along with the delete menu item) and double-clicking on an item does nothing. You can perform a keyboard-shortcut copy ctrl+c, but, and in my opinion, this is a BIG but, if you've filtered the list (which you'll probably have to do if you have anymore than about 3 items), it appears that a single item is selected, so you can ctrl+c quickly and move on to paste into wherever you need to, but despite it having a darker shade background (eg: selected state), the item isn't actually selected so you click on it to select it and perform the ctrl+c function again to copy, but alas, it's still not selected. What you actually have to do, is click on it twice (not double-click) and then you're able to ctrl+c to copy the code. Yes, you could right-click and select copy from the context menu, but again in my opinion, this isn't as intuitive nor quick as click and ctrl+c.

So I decided after a week or so of using this that I wanted 3.1.0 back again as that was far more UX-friendly for day-to-day use, but you can't install it via the PPA! I had to resort to installing it from source, so in case you want to do the same too, here's how I did it.

Remove v4.x

# apt remove yubioath-desktop

Install any missing pre-requisites for manual building

# apt update
# apt install pip python-setuptools python-crypto python-pyscard \
      python-pyside pyside-tools python-click libykpers-1-1 pcscd

Grab the source-code and install

$ wget
$ tar zxf yubioath-desktop-3.1.0.tar.gz
$ cd yubioath-desktop-3.1.0
$ sudo pip install .

This should then install Yubioath-Desktop into /usr/local/bin as yubioath (CLI tool) and yubioath-gui (desktop GUI tool).

From here, I simply created a new menu item in Linux Mint to point to /usr/local/bin/yubioath-gui and was back on my way with a more UX-friendly (in my opinion) version 3.1.0.

Don't get me wrong here, I love my Yubikey and what Yubico do, and although this upgrade felt like a big UX step backwards for me, it certainly hasn't changed my feelings for either the company or the hardware.