16.3. Renewing Subsystem Certificates

download PDF
There are two methods of renewing a certificate. Regenerating the certificate takes its original key and its original profile and request, and recreates an identical key with a new validity period and expiration date. Re-keying a certificate resubmits the initial certificate request to the original profile, but generates a new key pair. Administrator certificates can be renewed by being re-keyed.

16.3.1. Re-keying Certificates in the End-Entities Forms

Subsystem certificates can be renewed directly in the end user enrollment forms, using the serial number of the original certificate.
  1. Renew the certificates in the CA's end-entities forms, as described in Section 5.5, “Renewing Certificates”. This requires the serial number of the subsystem certificate being renewed.
  2. Import the certificate into the subsystem's database, as described in Section 16.6.1, “Installing Certificates in the Certificate System Database”. The certificate can be imported using certutil or the console. For example:
    certutil -A -n "ServerCert cert-example" -t u,u,u -d /var/lib/pki/instance_name/alias -a -i /tmp/example.cert

16.3.2. Renewing Certificates in the Console

The Java subsystems can renew any of their subsystem certificates through their administrative console. The process is exactly the same as requesting new subsystem certificates (Section 16.2, “Requesting Certificates through the Console”), with one crucial difference: renewal uses an existing key pair rather than generating a new one.
Renewing Subsystem Certificate

Figure 16.1. Renewing Subsystem Certificate

After renewing a certificate, then delete the original certificate from the database (Section 16.6.3, “Deleting Certificates from the Database”).

16.3.3. Renewing Certificates Using certutil

certutil can be used to generate a certificate request using an existing key pair in the certificate database. The new certificate request can then be submitted through the regular profile pages for the CA to issue a renewed certificate.


Encryption and signing certificates are created in a single step. However, the renewal process only renews one certificate at a time.
To renew both certificates in a certificate pair, each one has to be renewed individually.
  1. Get the password for the token database.
    cat /var/lib/pki/instance_name/conf/password.conf
  2. Open the certificate database directory of the instance whose certificate is being renewed.
    cd /var/lib/pki/instance_name/alias
  3. List the key and nickname for the certificate being renewed. In order to renew a certificate, the key pairs used to generate and the subject name given to the new certificate must be the same as the one in the old certificate.
    # certutil -K -d .
    certutil: Checking token "NSS Certificate DB" in slot "NSS User Private Key and Certificate Services"
    Enter Password or Pin for "NSS Certificate DB":
    < 0> rsa      69481646e38a6154dc105960aa24ccf61309d37d   caSigningCert cert-pki-tomcat CA
  4. Copy the alias directory as a backup, then delete the original certificate from the certificate database. For example:
    certutil -D -n "ServerCert cert-example"  -d .
  5. Run the certutil command with the options set to the values in the existing certificate.
    certutil -d . -R -n "NSS Certificate DB:cert-pki-tomcat CA" -s "cn=CA Authority,o=Example Domain" -a -o example.req2.txt
    The difference between generating a new certificate and key pair and renewing the certificate is the value of the -n option. To generate an entirely new request and key pair, then -k sets the key type and is used with -g, which sets the bit length. For a renewal request, the -n option uses the certificate nickname to access the existing key pair stored in the security database.
    For further details about the parameters, see the certutil(1) man page.
  6. Submit the certificate request and then retrieve it and install it, as described in Section 5.4, “Requesting and Receiving Certificates”.

16.3.4. Renewing System Certificates

Certificate System does not automatically renew system certificates online while the PKI server is running. However, if a system certificate expires, Certificate System will fail to start.
To renew system certificates:
  1. If the system certificate is expired:
    1. Create a temporary certificate:
      # pki-server cert-create sslserver --temp
    2. Import the temporary certificate into Certificate System's Network Security Services (NSS) database:
      # pki-server cert-import sslserver
    3. Start Certificate System:
      # systemctl start pki-tomcatd@instance_name.service
  2. Display the certificates and note the ID of the expired system certificate:
    # pki-server cert-find
  3. Create the new permanent certificate:
    # pki-server cert-create certificate_ID
  4. Stop Certificate System:
    # systemctl stop pki-tomcatd@instance_name.service
  5. Import the new certificate to replace the expired certificate:
    # pki-server cert-import certificate_ID
  6. Start Certificate System:
    # systemctl start pki-tomcatd@instance_name.service
Red Hat logoGithubRedditYoutubeTwitter


Try, buy, & sell


About Red Hat Documentation

We help Red Hat users innovate and achieve their goals with our products and services with content they can trust.

Making open source more inclusive

Red Hat is committed to replacing problematic language in our code, documentation, and web properties. For more details, see the Red Hat Blog.

About Red Hat

We deliver hardened solutions that make it easier for enterprises to work across platforms and environments, from the core datacenter to the network edge.

© 2024 Red Hat, Inc.