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A SIMP module for setting up a SIMP-specific DogTag CA


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Version information

  • 0.6.0 (latest)
  • 0.5.0
  • 0.3.1
  • 0.3.0
  • 0.2.0
  • 0.1.1
released Oct 12th 2023
This version is compatible with:
  • Puppet Enterprise 2023.7.x, 2023.6.x, 2023.5.x, 2023.4.x, 2023.3.x, 2023.2.x, 2023.1.x, 2023.0.x, 2021.7.x, 2021.6.x, 2021.5.x, 2021.4.x, 2021.3.x, 2021.2.x, 2021.1.x, 2021.0.x
  • Puppet >= 7.0.0 < 9.0.0
  • , ,

Start using this module

  • r10k or Code Manager
  • Bolt
  • Manual installation
  • Direct download

Add this module to your Puppetfile:

mod 'simp-simp_pki_service', '0.6.0'
Learn more about managing modules with a Puppetfile

Add this module to your Bolt project:

bolt module add simp-simp_pki_service
Learn more about using this module with an existing project

Manually install this module globally with Puppet module tool:

puppet module install simp-simp_pki_service --version 0.6.0

Direct download is not typically how you would use a Puppet module to manage your infrastructure, but you may want to download the module in order to inspect the code.

Tags: ca, pki, simp, dogtag


simp/simp_pki_service — version 0.6.0 Oct 12th 2023

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| WARNING: This is currently an **EXPERIMENTAL** module things |
| may change drastically, and in breaking ways, without notice!|

This is a SIMP module

This module is a component of the System Integrity Management Platform, a compliance-management framework built on Puppet.

If you find any issues, they can be submitted to our JIRA.

Module Description

simp/simp_pki_service is a SIMP-oriented installation of the Dogtag Certificate System.

Traditionally, SIMP has used an internal "FakeCA" openssl-based CA. Over time, this has proven insufficient for our needs, particularly for capabilities in terms of Key Enrollment (SCEP and CMC), OCSP, and overall management of certificates.

Additionally, we found that many users wanted to adjust the certificate parameters for the Puppet subsystem itself outside of the defaults and/or use a "real", and more scalable CA system for all certificate management.

Dogtag was selected since it was likely to be the most familiar to any users of the FreeIPA or Red Hat Identity Management product suite and should allow for transition from one to the other in a vendor supported manner.


What simp_pki_service affects

This module sets up the following components on your system:

  • Internal 389ds Directory Server

    • Bound to only to restrict access
  • Dogtag with the following subsystems:

    • Root CA -> simp-pki-root
    • Sub CA with KRA and SCEP -> simp-puppet-pki
    • Sub CA with KRA and SCEP -> simp-site-pki

Setup Requirements

Due to the high entropy requirements, systems will need to be able to install the haveged package from the EPEL repository.

The creation of the PKI infrastructure is extremely CPU intensive. Once created, individual actions are not too burdensome on the system. At a minimum, the system should have:

  • 2 CPUs
    • These will be completely utilized during setup
  • 512MB RAM Free



To install the CA system, you simply need to include the simp_pki_service class on your node. This will instantiate the services as follows:

                  |                |
                  |  simp-pki-root |
                  |   Port: 4509   |
                  |                |
          /                               \
         v                                 v
+-----------------+                +---------------+
|                 |                |               |
| simp-puppet-pki |                | simp-site-pki |
|   Port: 5509    |                |  Port: 8443   |
|                 |                |               |
+-----------------+                +---------------+

The CA and subordinate CA configuration shown above is controlled by the simp_pki_service::cas parameter. You can change the settings, including the bound ports, for the default infrastructure by manipulating this data hash. However, once the system is active you CANNOT change the ports or hostname since the OCSP information is usually incorporated into all signed certificates and will then be invalid.

If you wish to customize the existing CA settings, or add your own CAs to the mix, you can easily do this using the simp_pki_service::custom_cas parameter. This hash will be combined with simp_pki_service::cas using a deep_merge to allow for full customization.

The simp-pki-root CA

This CA is the root for all subordinate CAs and should never be exposed outside of the local system unless it is specifically to an off-system subordinate CA.

If this CA is compromised, then all subordinate CAs are now invalid and must be replaced, additionally, when this CA expires, all subordinate CAs must be regenerated.

The simp-puppet-pki subordinate CA

This CA is the new root for all puppet operations in the infrastructure. The goal of this is that the puppet CA will no longer be used and certificates from this new CA will be used in place of the traditional puppet certificates in accordance with the External CA Support documentation from Puppet, Inc.

The simp-site-pki subordinate CA

This CA replaces the SIMP FakeCA for general purpose internal certificate generation and maintenance. It is meant to be used with certmonger, or another automated enrollment utility but can also be used to generate certificates and ship them using the simp-pki puppet module in the same way that the FakeCA was traditionally used.

NOTE: This has been pinned to port 8443 by default since it is the default dogtag port and the most likely to be allowed through firewalls by default.

The /root/.dogtag Directory

This directory holds all configuration and maintenance information and credentials for the various CAs that have been set up on the system.

├── generated_configs                   <- Puppet Generated Files
│   ├── dogtag_simp-pki-root_ca.cfg
│   ├── dogtag_simp-puppet-pki_ca.cfg
│   ├── dogtag_simp-puppet-pki_kra.cfg
│   ├── dogtag_simp-site-pki_ca.cfg
│   ├── dogtag_simp-site-pki_kra.cfg
│   ├── ds_pw.txt                       <- Directory Server Password
│   └── ds_simp-pki-ds_setup.inf
├── simp-pki-root
│   ├── ca
│   │   ├── alias                       <- NSSDB for Root PKI
│   │   ├── password.conf               <- Password for Root PKI
│   │   └── pkcs12_password.conf
│   ├── ca_admin.cert
│   ├── ca_admin.cert.der
│   └── ca_admin_cert.p12
├── simp-puppet-pki
│   ├── ca
│   │   ├── alias                       <- NSSDB for Puppet Sub PKI
│   │   ├── password.conf               <- Password for Puppet Sub PKI
│   │   └── pkcs12_password.conf
│   ├── ca_admin.cert
│   ├── ca_admin.cert.der
│   └── ca_admin_cert.p12
└── simp-site-pki
    ├── ca
    │   ├── alias                       <- NSSDB for Site Sub PKI
    │   ├── password.conf               <- Password for Site Sub PKI
    │   └── pkcs12_password.conf
    ├── ca_admin.cert
    ├── ca_admin.cert.der
    └── ca_admin_cert.p12

CLI CA Control

The pki subsystem has a great number of command line options that may be used to interact with the different subsystems. There is also a server CLI interface but we recommend using the standard remote CLI so that you know if the remote connections are working properly.

BASH aliases


The following aliases are recommended to be added to the root user's $HOME/.bashrc file to make daily interaction with the different systems as easy as possible:

# This will be your most commonly used command

alias site-pki-base='pki -d $HOME/.dogtag/simp-site-pki/ca/alias -C $HOME/.dogtag/simp-site-pki/ca/password.conf'
alias site-pki='site-pki-base -n "caadmin" -P https -p 8443'

# This should only be used for Puppet ecosystem certificates:
# For example: puppetserver, puppetdb, puppet agent

alias puppet-pki-base='pki -d $HOME/.dogtag/simp-puppet-pki/ca/alias -C $HOME/.dogtag/simp-puppet-pki/ca/password.conf'
alias puppet-pki='puppet-pki-base -n "caadmin" -P https -p 5509'

# This will rarely be used and controls the *root* CA
# If you invalidate or break the root CA, everything below it will need to be
# regenerated!

alias pki-root-base='pki -d $HOME/.dogtag/simp-pki-root/ca/alias -C $HOME/.dogtag/simp-pki-root/ca/password.conf'
alias pki-root='pki-root-base -n "caadmin" -P https -p 4509'

Adding CA certs for the BASH aliases

Prior to using the aliases above for regular purposes you need to ensure that the CA chains are properly imported into the NSS databases in the corresponding alias directories listed above.

Don't worry, you only need to do this once per CA and it is good to know what commands are being run for future reference in case you need to add additional certificates in the future!

The following uses site-pki as an example, but you need to repeat the steps for all three aliased CAs.

# You'll want to do this in a temp directory, we'll use one in the $HOME/.dogtag space
[root@ca ~]# cd $HOME/.dogtag
[root@ca ~]# mkdir crt_tmp
[root@ca ~]# cd crt_tmp

# Obtain the PKCS12 certificate chain from the server

[root@ca crt_tmp]# pki-server subsystem-cert-export ca signing -i simp-site-pki \
--no-key \
--pkcs12-file simp-site-pki-certs.p12 \
--pkcs12-password-file $HOME/.dogtag/simp-site-pki/ca/password.conf

# Generate a PEM file containing the CA certificate chain from the PKCS12 file

[root@ca crt_tmp]# openssl pkcs12 -in simp-site-pki-certs.p12 \
-passin file:$HOME/.dogtag/simp-site-pki/ca/password.conf \
-out simp-site-pki-ca-chain.pem

# Split the PEM file out into separate PEM files for each CA
# This is done to get them into into your NSS database
# You may also want to provide these to your clients for download but the
# single file version is generally preferred

[root@ca crt_tmp]# mkdir ca_certs
[root@ca crt_tmp]# awk '/friendlyName:/{$1="";sub($1 OFS, "");n=$0} \
/^-----BEGIN.*CERTIFICATE/,/^-----END.*CERTIFICATE/{print >"ca_certs/"n".pem"}' \
< simp-site-pki-ca-chain.pem

# Finally, import the CA certificates into the associated trust chain NSS
# database

[root@ca crt_tmp]# cd ca_certs
[root@ca ca_certs]# for x in *.pem; do
  site-pki-base client-cert-import "`basename "$x" .pem`" --ca-cert "$x"


Certificate Operations

Certificate Enrollment

This section describe three different certificate enrollment options, each of which has been exercised in this module's acceptance tests.

A summary of these options is listed in the following table:

Option Pros Cons
certmonger SCEP Enrollment via HTTP(S) Does not work in FIPS mode yet
Automatic cert refresh
Simple API
Single use passwords
SSCEP Simple API Does not work in FIPS mode yet
Single use passwords Enrollment via HTTP only
Only MD5 or SHA1 for fingerprints or PKCS#7
CMC Works in FIPS mode Only appropriate (secure) when on CA server
Clunky API
Certmonger SCEP

IMPORTANT: For certmonger < 0.79.6, this will NOT work properly in FIPS mode due to a bug in certmonger and an associated bug in dogtag which, when combined, result in the inability to negotiate a proper cipher set for SCEP communication.

Certmonger allows clients to obtain certificates from CAs via SCEP. Each SCEP request is validated via a one time password linked to the client's IP address. Requests can be sent over HTTPS (preferred) or HTTP.

Server Setup

Each CA has a text file, flatfile.txt, that contains the per-client one time passwords.

For the site-pki CA, this would be in /var/lib/pki/simp-site-pki/ca/conf/flatfile.txt.

The file is organized as a set of paired values, one for the IP address (not hostname) of the client that will be enrolling and the other a unique, one time use, password that will be used by the client during enrollment. Each pair must be separated by a blank line.

WARNING: The PWD entries can not contain underscores _!




NOTE: You do NOT need to restart anything after editing the file!

Client Setup
  1. Ensure that the certmonger package is installed and that the certmonger process is running and enabled.

    [root@client ~]# yum -y install certmonger
    [root@client ~]# systemctl start certmonger
    [root@client ~]# systemctl enable certmonger
  2. Obtain the root certificate for the CA that you will be connecting to. In this case, we'll assume that you've saved it to a file named /etc/pki/simp-pki-root-ca.pem with SELinux context cert_t.

    • This is probably called CA Signing Certificate - SIMP.pem in the ca_certs directory if you followed the steps outlined above.
  3. Obtain the certificate chain for the CA that you will be connecting to. In this case, we'll assume that you've saved it to a file named /etc/pki/simp-site-pki-ca.pem with SELinux context cert_t.

    • This is probably called caSigningCert cert-simp-site-pki CA.pem in the ca_certs directory if you followed the steps outlined above.
  4. Add the CA to certmonger:

    [root@client ~]# getcert add-scep-ca -c SIMP_Site \
      -u https://ca.your.domain:8443/ca/cgi-bin/pkiclient.exe \
      -R /etc/pki/simp-pki-root-ca.pem -I /etc/pki/simp-site-pki-ca.pem
  5. Ensure that your default nssdb space exists, as, under the hood, certmonger uses certutil, which, in turn requires this NSS database to be present:

    [root@client ~]#
      if [ ! -d $HOME/.netscape ]; then
        mkdir $HOME/.netscape
        certutil -N
  6. Request a certificate using certmonger:

    [root@client ~]# getcert request -c SIMP_Site -k /etc/pki/host_cert.pem \
      -f /etc/pki/ \
      -I Host_Cert_Nickname \
      -r -w -L <password from server setup step>

    NOTE: The target for the public and private keys must have context cert_t for certmonger to be able to write the keys appropriately.

SSCEP Enrollment

IMPORTANT: For sscep <= 0.6.1, this will NOT work properly in FIPS mode, because, even with the -S sha1 option set, sscep under the hood still tries to generate the certificate request transaction ID using MD5.

SSCEP allows clients to obtain certificates from CAs via SCEP. Each SCEP request is validated via a one time password linked to the client's IP address. Requests can only be sent over HTTP.

Server Setup

You must set one time passwords for each client on the CA server, exactly as is described in Server Setup for Certmonger.

Client Setup
  1. Ensure that the sscep package is installed.

    [root@client ~]# yum -y install sscep
  2. Obtain the CA certificate for the CA that you will be connecting to. In this example, we will be connecting to the simp-site-pki CA.

    [root@client ~]# sscep getca \
      -u http://ca.your.domain:8080/ca/cgi-bin/pkiclient.exe \
      -c ca.crt \
      -F sha1
  3. Create a certificate request.

    • For simple cases, you can use the mkrequest script provided by the sscep package. This will create local.key and local.csr files.

      [root@client ~]# mkrequest -ip `hostname -i` <password from server setup step>
    • For cases, in which you need to customize the CSR beyond what is provided by mkrequest script, you can use openssl genrsa and openssl req to generate the key and CSR files, respectively. A complete example that uses those openssl commands can be found in the Puppet certificate replacement test, spec/acceptance/suites/default/20_puppet_swap_spec.rb.

  4. Request a certificate using sscep:

    [root@client ~]# sscep enroll \
      -u http://ca.your.domain:8080/ca/cgi-bin/pkiclient.exe \
      -c ca.crt \
      -k local.key \
      -r local.csr \
      -l cert.crt \
      -S sha1
CMC Manual Enrollment

An alternate method for certificate enrollment, CMC may be used if you need to generate certificates for a set of hosts or users and distribute them via the simp-pki puppet module or some other means.

At this time, single use credentials have not been implemented so you should not add this capability to all hosts.

All of the following steps should be done from a host that has access to one of the privileged PKI user certificates (in general this is only your CA).

  1. Ensure that your default nssdb space exists, as certutil requires this NSS database to be present:

    [root@ca ~]#
      if [ ! -d $HOME/.netscape ]; then
        mkdir $HOME/.netscape
        certutil -N
  2. Create a certificate request for your host, using a seed of 512 bytes from /dev/urandom:

    [root@ca ~]# mkdir -f CMC && cd CMC
    [root@ca CMC]# dd if=/dev/urandom of=seed count=1
    [root@ca CMC]# certutil -R \
      -s "cn=`hostname -f`,ou=Hosts,dc=your,dc=domain" \
      -k rsa \
      -g 4096 \
      -Z SHA384 \
      -z seed \
      | openssl req -inform DER -outform PEM > hostcert.req
  3. Create a cmc-request.cfg file with the following content:

    # NSS database directory.
    # NSS database password.
    password=<password from /root/.dogtag/simp-site-pki/ca/password.conf>
    # Token name (default is internal).
    # Nickname for CA agent certificate.
    # Request format: pkcs10 or crmf.
    # Total number of PKCS10/CRMF requests.
    # Path to the PKCS10/CRMF request.
    # The content must be in Base-64 encoded format.
    # Multiple files are supported. They must be separated by space.
    # Path for the CMC request.
  4. Generate the CMCRequest bin file

    [root@ca CMC]# CMCRequest cmc-request.cfg
  5. Create a cmc-submit.cfg file with the following content

    # PKI server host name.
    # PKI server port number.
    # Use secure connection.
    # Use client authentication.
    # NSS database directory.
    # NSS database password.
    password=<password from /root/.dogtag/simp-site-pki/ca/password.conf>
    # Token name (default: internal).
    # Nickname of CA agent certificate.
    # CMC servlet path
    # Path for the CMC request.
    # Path for the CMC response.
  6. Submit the CMC Request

    [root@ca CMC]# HttpClient cmc-submit.cfg
  7. Unpack the signed certificate along with its certificate chain into a PKCS #7 PEM-formatted file: nssdb for this):

    [root@ca CMC]# CMCResponse -d ~/.dogtag/simp-puppet-pki/ca/alias \
      -i sslserver-cmc-response.bin -o signed_host_cert_chain.p7b
  8. Extract the all the certificates in the chain from the PKCS #7 file into a single file:

    [root@ca CMC]# openssl pkcs7 -print_certs \
       -in signed_host_cert_chain.p7b \
       -out signed_host_cert_chain.pem
  9. Manually save the new certificate to its own file, move to the appropriate directory and ensure the file has the SELinux context cert_t.

Listing Certificates

You can list the certificates for the site CA using the following command:

[root@ca ~]# site-pki cert-find

Certificate Revocation

You can revoke certificates from the site CA using the following command:

[root@ca ~]# site-pki cert-revoke <CERT ID>

IMPORTANT: Take care not to revoke any certificate below ID 0x9 since those are internal subsystem certificates and may cause issues.

OCSP Validation

There is an OCSP endpoint attached to all CA systems automatically. To validate that OCSP is working properly for the site CA, you can use the following command:

[root@ca ~]# OCSPClient -d ~/.dogtag/simp-site-pki/ca/alias -h `hostname -f` \
  -p 8080 -t /ca/ocsp --serial 1 -vv -c caadmin

If that works, then you can try an external query by pulling the OCSP endpoint out of a generated certificate as follows:

[root@ca ~]# openssl ocsp -issuer site-pki-ca-chain.pem -cert to_verify.pem \
  -text -url `openssl x509 -noout -ocsp_uri -in to_verify.pem`

Certificate Problem Debug

Debugging the reason a certificate request failed can be challenging. This section contains a few notes to aid in that debug.

  • The dogtag server logs for a CA are found at /var/log/pki/<CA name>/ca

    • The system log will contain any enrollment error message.

    • The debug file will contain hex dumps of DER-encoded request messages. You can print those request messages out as follows:

      1. Copy the hex dump of a single request to a file named debug_snippet.

      2. Create a DER-formatted file from that hex dump by executing the following Ruby code:'debug.req', 'w'){|fh| fh.puts ['debug_snippet').gsub("\n",' ').gsub(' ','')].pack('H*') }
      3. Use openssl to inspect the file contents:

        openssl req -inform DER -in debug.req -text
  • If you see "CEP Enrollment: CRS enrollment failed: Could not post new request. Error Invalid Credential" in the CA server system log, the wrong password was used for the SCEP request. Verify a one time password for the client is set in /var/lib/pki/<CA name>/ca/conf/flatfile.txt on the CA server and that the specified password matches the one used in the certificate request.

  • If you see "sscep: wrong (or missing) MIME content type" from the scep enroll command or "Couldn't handle CEP request (PKCSReq) - Could not unwrap PKCS10 blob: DerValue.getDirectoryString: invalid tag" in the CA server system log, the SCEP one time password may contain characters disallowed by the underlying software (e.g., an underscore). Per RFC 2985, these passwords must be of X.520 type DirectoryString, which is comprised of UTF-8 encoded Unicode characters. However, the validation software may impose additional restrictions.

  • If you see "CEP Enrollment: Enrollment failed: user used duplicate transaction ID." in the CA server system log, that means you need to regenerate your client private key.

Directory Operations

The administrative DN for 389ds consists of the value in simp_pki_service::pki_security_domain appended with Directory Manager.

By default, to access the 389ds configuration, you would use the following:

[root@ca ~]# ldapsearch -H ldap://localhost:389 -y $HOME/.dogtag/generated_configs/ds_pw.txt \
  -D "cn=SIMP Directory Manager" -s base -b "cn=config"


Please read our Contribution Guide.

If you find any issues, they can be submitted to our JIRA.

System Integrity Management Platform