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Certidude is a novel X.509 Certificate Authority management tool aiming to support PKCS#11 and in far future WebCrypto.

Project description


Certidude is a novel X.509 Certificate Authority management tool with privilege isolation mechanism and Kerberos authentication aiming to eventually support PKCS#11 and in far future WebCrypto.


Certidude is mainly designed for VPN gateway operators to make desktop/laptop VPN setup as easy as possible. User certificate management eg. for HTTPS is also made reasonably simple. For a full-blown CA you might want to take a look at EJBCA or OpenCA.



  • Standard request, sign, revoke workflow via web interface.

  • Kerberos and basic auth based web interface authentication.

  • PAM and Active Directory compliant authentication backends: Kerberos single sign-on, LDAP simple bind.

  • POSIX groups and Active Directory (LDAP) group membership based authorization.

  • Command-line interface, check out certidude list.

  • Privilege isolation, separate signer process is spawned per private key isolating private key use from the the web interface.

  • Certificate serial numbers are intentionally randomized to avoid leaking information about business practices.

  • Server-side events support via nchan.

  • E-mail notifications about pending, signed and revoked certificates.

Virtual private networking:

  • OpenVPN integration, check out certidude setup openvpn server and certidude setup openvpn client.

  • strongSwan integration, check out certidude setup strongswan server and certidude setup strongswan client.

  • NetworkManager integration, check out certidude setup openvpn networkmanager and certidude setup strongswan networkmanager.


  • P12 bundle generation for web browsers, seems to work well with Android

  • HTTPS server setup with client verification, check out certidude setup nginx


  • OCSP support, needs a bit hacking since OpenSSL wrappers are not exposing the functionality.

  • SECP support, a client implementation available here. Not sure if we can implement server-side events within current standard.

  • Deep mailbox integration, eg fetch CSR-s from mailbox via IMAP.

  • WebCrypto support, meanwhile check out hwcrypto.js.

  • Certificate push/pull, making it possible to sign offline.

  • PKCS#11 hardware token support for signatures at command-line.

  • Ability to send .ovpn bundle URL tokens via e-mail, for simplified VPN adoption.

  • Cronjob for deleting expired certificates

  • Signer process logging.


To install Certidude:

apt-get install -y python python-pip python-dev cython \
    python-cffi python-configparser \
    python-pysqlite2 python-mysql.connector python-ldap \
    build-essential libffi-dev libssl-dev libkrb5-dev \
    ldap-utils krb5-user \
pip install certidude

Setting up authority

First make sure the machine used for certificate authority has fully qualified domain name set up properly. You can check it with:

hostname -f

The command should return

If necessary tweak machine’s fully qualified hostname in /etc/hosts: localhost ca

Then proceed to install nchan and uwsgi:

dpkg -i nginx-common.deb nginx-extras.deb
apt-get install nginx uwsgi uwsgi-plugin-python

Certidude can set up certificate authority relatively easily. Following will set up certificate authority in /var/lib/certidude/hostname.domain.tld, configure uWSGI in /etc/uwsgi/apps-available/certidude.ini, nginx in /etc/nginx/sites-available/certidude.conf, cronjobs in /etc/cron.hourly/certidude and much more:

certidude setup authority

Tweak the configuration in /etc/certidude/server.conf until you meet your requirements and spawn the signer process:

certidude signer spawn

Finally restart services:

service nginx restart
service uwsgi restart

Certificate management

Use following command to request a certificate on a machine:

certidude setup client

Use following to list signing requests, certificates and revoked certificates on server:

certidude list

Use web interface or following to sign a certificate on server:

certidude sign client-hostname-or-common-name

Setting up Active Directory authentication

Following assumes you have already set up Kerberos infrastructure and Certidude is simply one of the servers making use of that infrastructure.

Install dependencies:

apt-get install samba-common-bin krb5-user ldap-utils

Reset Samba client configuration in /etc/samba/smb.conf:

security = ads
netbios name = CA
workgroup = EXAMPLE
kerberos method = system keytab

Reset Kerberos configuration in /etc/krb5.conf:

default_realm = EXAMPLE.COM
dns_lookup_realm = true
dns_lookup_kdc = true

Initialize Kerberos credentials:

kinit administrator

Join the machine to domain:

net ads join -k

Set up Kerberos keytab for the web service:

KRB5_KTNAME=FILE:/etc/certidude/server.keytab net ads keytab add HTTP -k
chown root:certidude /etc/certidude/server.keytab
chmod 640 /etc/certidude/server.keytab

Reconfigure /etc/certidude/server.conf:

backends = kerberos

backend = ldap
ldap gssapi credential cache = /run/certidude/krb5cc
ldap user filter = (&(objectclass=user)(objectcategory=person)(samaccountname=%s))
ldap admin filter = (&(memberOf=cn=Domain Admins,cn=Users,dc=example,dc=com)(samaccountname=%s))

User filter here specified which users can log in to Certidude web interface at all eg. for generating user certificates for HTTPS. Admin filter specifies which users are allowed to sign and revoke certificates. Adjust admin filter according to your setup. Also make sure there is cron.hourly job for creating GSSAPI credential cache - that’s necessary for querying LDAP using Certidude machine’s credentials.

Automating certificate setup

Ubuntu 14.04 based desktops come with NetworkManager installed. Create /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/certidude with following content:

#!/bin/sh -e
# Set up certificates for IPSec connection

case "$2" in
        LANG=C.UTF-8 /usr/local/bin/certidude request spawn -k

Finally make it executable:

chmod +x /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/certidude

Whenever a wired or wireless connection is brought up, the dispatcher invokes certidude in order to generate RSA keys, submit CSR, fetch signed certificate, create NetworkManager configuration for the VPN connection.


Clone the repository:

git clone
cd certidude

Install dependencies as shown above and additionally:

pip install -r requirements.txt

To generate templates:

apt-get install npm nodejs
sudo ln -s nodejs /usr/bin/node # Fix 'env node' on Ubuntu 14.04
npm install -g nunjucks
nunjucks-precompile --include "\\.html$" --include "\\.svg$" certidude/static/ > certidude/static/js/templates.js

To run from source tree:

PYTHONPATH=. KRB5CCNAME=/run/certidude/krb5cc KRB5_KTNAME=/etc/certidude/server.keytab LANG=C.UTF-8 python misc/certidude

To install the package from the source:

python  install --single-version-externally-managed --root /

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