A port of the old sial.org CA to a Rakefile
Latest commit f3116e9 Jul 23, 2015 @ripienaar Merge pull request #2 from gavin-scott/strip
add task to strip passphrase from key
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README.md Add the ability to specify a custom config file and include a Jul 22, 2015



There used to be a Makefile based CA script at sial.org but this has died when the domain expired and the author is not responsive.

This is a port of that CA to a Rakefile with a few enhancements, there are better CA management tools out there but this one is mine and I like it.


Clone this repo into your new CA directory and optionally tweak the openssl.cnf.erb file to your liking, leave the erb bits in there since the Rakefile will ask you a few questions on initial run.

Alternatively just create a openssl.cnf in the directory and that will be used without you being asked any questions.

Create a CA

This will create a new CA, the password it asks will be required to sign new certificates in the future so DO NOT LOSE IT.

$ rake init
CA Common Name (CA): MyCA
CA Country Name: GB
CA State or Province: London
Locality: London
Email Address: me@my.com
URL to the CRL: https://ca.my.com/ca-crl.pem
>>> Creating directory crl
>>> Creating directory newcerts
>>> Creating directory private
openssl req -config openssl.cnf -days 1825 -x509 -newkey rsa:2048 -out
ca-cert.pem -outform PEM
Generating a 2048 bit RSA private key
writing new private key to './private/ca-key.pem'
Enter PEM pass phrase:
Verifying - Enter PEM pass phrase:

Signing a Certificate Signing Request

Now once you have a CA you probably want to sign some certs, if you already have a CSR then just copy it into your CA directory:

$ cp /tmp/mycert.csr .
$ rake sign
>>> Signing mycert.csr creating mycert.cert
openssl ca -batch -config openssl.cnf -in mycert.csr -out mycert.cert
Using configuration from openssl.cnf
Enter pass phrase for ./private/ca-key.pem:
Check that the request matches the signature
Signature ok
Certificate Details:
        Serial Number: 1 (0x1)
            Not Before: May 24 15:32:45 2012 GMT
            Not After : May 24 15:32:45 2014 GMT
            countryName               = GB
            stateOrProvinceName       = London
            organizationName          = MyCo
            organizationalUnitName    = Webops
            commonName                = web1.myco.com
            emailAddress              = sysadmin@myco.com
        X509v3 extensions:
            X509v3 Basic Constraints:
            X509v3 Subject Key Identifier:
            X509v3 Authority Key Identifier:

            Netscape CA Revocation Url:
Certificate is to be certified until May 24 15:32:45 2014 GMT (730 days)

Write out database with 1 new entries
Data Base Updated

A copy of the certificate will be stored in newcerts

Creating a CSR and Key

If you dont have a CSR or key already you can create one:

% rake gencsr CERT=mycert
openssl req -out mycert.csr -new -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout mycert.key
Generating a 2048 bit RSA private key
writing new private key to 'mycert.key'
Enter PEM pass phrase:
Verifying - Enter PEM pass phrase:
You are about to be asked to enter information that will be incorporated
into your certificate request.
What you are about to enter is what is called a Distinguished Name or a DN.
There are quite a few fields but you can leave some blank
For some fields there will be a default value,
If you enter '.', the field will be left blank.
Country Name (2 letter code) [XX]:GB
State or Province Name (full name) []:London
Locality Name (eg, city) [Default City]:London
Organization Name (eg, company) [Default Company Ltd]:MyCo
Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:
Common Name (eg, your name or your server's hostname) []:web1.my.com
Email Address []:sysadmin@my.com

Please enter the following 'extra' attributes
to be sent with your certificate request
A challenge password []:
An optional company name []:

This will leave mycert.key and mycert.csr in the current directory protected with the password you provided, you can now use rake sign to sign this certificate

Signing will use your system wide openssl.cnf but you can specify a custom location in order to add subjectAltNames or other extensions:

% rake gencsr CERT=mycert CONFIG=my.cnf

You can see the file request_config.sample for a sample request config file that adds alt names and configures the prompts - you can set defaults here too

Revoking a certificate

When retiring systems you need to revoke their old certificates, to revoke a certificate you need a copy of the certificate.

% rake revoke CERT=newcerts/01.pem
>>> Revoking certificate newcerts/01.pem
openssl ca -config openssl.cnf -revoke 'newcerts/01.pem'
Using configuration from openssl.cnf
Enter pass phrase for ./private/ca-key.pem:
Revoking Certificate 01.
Data Base Updated
openssl ca -config openssl.cnf -gencrl -out ca-crl.pem
Using configuration from openssl.cnf
Enter pass phrase for ./private/ca-key.pem:

As mentioned all the new certs are stored in newcerts so you can find any cert the CA signed there but you can fetch a copy of the cert from anywhere

The password you need is the CA password, this will also update the certificate revokation list which you can do manually using rake gencrl

Destroying your CA

If you do not need the CA anymore you can destroy it:

% rake destroy_ca
Type 'yes' to destroy the CA: yes


R.I.Pienaar / rip@devco.net / @ripienaar / http://devco.net/