e-ID with openSuSE 10.3

I like OpenSuSE. It, and its predecessors without the ‘Open’ part in their name have been my Linux environments of choice since my university days, back from SuSE 6.4. My use of Linux as an operating system has been steadily increasing, almost at the same pace of the quality and the possibilities of the applications the OS provided me with.

Belgium has invested quite some effort in what is called here the e-ID. It’s a smartcard used as identity card, with the added functionality of electronic signatures that are protected by a PIN code. One of the killer applications is considered Tax-On-Web, where one can do his tax declaration online.

Let’s face it, nobody likes to do his tax declaration. Even if you have done enough pre-paiments during the year to cover for the taxes, you don’t want to be reminded of how much you really contributed to the state during the past year. Given that fact, it will be no shock to anyone that I was risking being late for my tax declaration some years back, and I got the terrific idea of buying a smartcard reader and trying that Tax-On-Web thing.

Finding a smartcard reader wasn’t easy at that time. Media Markt didn’t have them, and when I explained the shop attendant why I needed it, he looked amazed, and told me he was going to order some of them soon, as he could imagine I wouldn’t be the only one looking for such a device, now that the ultimate declaration date was drawing near. Savvy guy, I hope he was promoted soon, as he was the only one showing the slightest bit of insight. Of course, nowadays, there isn’t an electronics shop in Belgium NOT carrying the ARC38 reader, and De Lijn, the public transports company, recently just gave them away for free.

That’s true, every government-related agency is trying hard to invent or adapt some process that needs an eID card. That’s why I keep testing the support under Linux, given that these services will be more and more omnipresent here in Belgium.

I recently installed openSuSE 10.3 (yesterday evening, to be precise), and installed the eid related programs. After I ran the GUI to setup my card reader (and ran the pcscd daemon in root to be able to access the card reader in the first place), the GUI told me it found the card reader, there was a card present, but it wasn’t a eID card it recognized. Darn. That means it doesn’t work at the moment. I’ll be sure to follow up in the coming days with progress on this.

I’m interested in hearing from you, if you have had success or issues with the eid programs. Let me know.

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