Certificate Management

nethserver-base provides a set of templates that output PEM-formatted certificate parts:

  • certificate/key RSA private key
  • certificate/crt public certificate
  • certificate/pem both key+crt parts

Configuration is inside the configuration database. Example:


A certificate consumer daemon should expand those templates to its own certificate paths, by installing the proper configuration under /etc/e-smith/templates.metadata.

For instance nethserver-httpd adds the following template configuration:

  • /etc/e-smith/templates.metadata/etc/pki/tls/private/localhost.key
  • /etc/e-smith/templates.metadata/etc/pki/tls/certs/localhost.crt

Set OUTPUT_FILENAME, PERMS, UID and GID values according to daemon configuration.

Default behavior

By default, CrtFile and KeyFile properties have empty values. In this case, nethserver-base generates a self-signed certificate during nethserver-base-update event.

Default SELinux-aware certificate locations are:

  • /etc/pki/tls/private/NSRV.key: private key
  • /etc/pki/tls/certs/NSRV.crt: CA certificate

A daily cron job checks certificate validity. If expired, the self-signed certificate is re-generated and certificate-update event is signaled.

Default certificate duration is set to 365 days. To change it:

db configuration setprop pki CertificateDuration 3650

The certificate Common Name is set to system FQDN. To override this value type:

db configuration setprop pki CommonName custom.cn

Let’s Encrypt

NethServer can request and renews Let’s Encrypt (LE) certificates. The main helper /usr/libexec/nethserver/letsencrypt-certs can be executed also from command line.

For more info, see:

/usr/libexec/nethserver/letsencrypt-certs -h

Database properties under pki key inside configuration database:

  • LetsEncryptMail: (optional) registration mail for LE notifications
  • LetsEncryptDomains: comma-separated list of domains added to certificate SAN field
  • LetsEncryptChallenge: challenge to use for validating the certificate, default is http. It accepts also values like dns-<provider>. Where <provider> is the name of the DNS provider. See the full list of available DNS provider plugins by executing certbot -h certonly. More info at https://certbot.eff.org/docs/using.html?highlight=dns#dns-plugins.

DNS challenge

To use the DNS challenge, follow these steps:

  • install the required certbot plugin plugin using yum; to see the list of available package use yum search certbot-dns
  • set LetsEncryptChallenge property to correct DNS plugin
  • configure all required properties accordingly to plugin documentation

When using the dns challenge, make sure to set extra properties accordingly to certbot configuration. All properties for the dns challenge should be in the form LetsEncrypt_<certbot_option>, where <certbot_option> is the option specific to certbot DNS plugin.

Digitial Ocean example

  1. Install the plugin:

    yum install python2-certbot-dns-digitalocean
  2. Configure the challenge type:

    config setprop pki LetsEncryptChallenge dns-digitalocean
  3. Configure required props accordingly to https://certbot-dns-digitalocean.readthedocs.io/en/stable/:

    config setprop pki LetsEncrypt_dns_digitalocean_token 'xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'
  4. Request certificate for domain myserver.nethserver.org:

    /usr/libexec/nethserver/letsencrypt-certs -v -d myserver.nethserver.org