# Configuring Zowe certificates in UNIX files

A keystore directory is used by Zowe to hold the certificate used for encrypting communication between Zowe clients and the Zowe z/OS servers. The keystore directory also holds the truststore used to hold public keys of any servers that Zowe trusts. When Zowe is launched, the instance directory configuration file instance.env specifies the location of the keystore directory. For more information, see Creating and configuring the Zowe instance directory.

If you created a keystore directory from a previous release of Version 1.8 or later, you can reuse the existing keystore directory with the newer version of Zowe.

You can use the existing certificate signed by an external certificate authority (CA) for HTTPS ports in the API Mediation Layer and the Zowe Application Framework. Alternatively, you can permit the Zowe configuration script to generate a self-signed certificate by the local API Mediation CA.

If you permit the Zowe configuration to generate a self-signed certificate, be sure to import the certificates into your browser to avoid untrusted network traffic challenges. For more information, see Import the local CA certificate to your browser.

Note: If you do not import the certificates into your browser when you access a Zowe web page, you may be challenged that the web page cannot be trusted. Depending on the browser you are using, you may have to add an exception to proceed to the web page. Some browser versions may not accept the Zowe certificate because the certificate is self-signed and the signing authority is not recognized as a trusted source. Manually importing the certificate into your browser ensures that the source is trusted, thereby preventing authenication challenges.

If you have an existing server certificate that is signed by an external CA, use this certificate as your Zowe certificate. An example is a CA managed by the IT department of your company, which already ensured that any certificates signed by that CA are trusted by browsers in your company because they have included the CA of the company in the truststore in company browsers. This avoids the need to manually import the local CA into each browser of the client machine.

To avoid requiring each browser to trust the CA that signed the Zowe certificate, you can use a public certificate authority such as Symantec, Comodo, Let's Encrypt, or _GoDaddy_to create a certificate. These certificates are trusted by all browsers and most REST API clients. This option, however, requires a manual process to request a certificate and may incur a cost payable to the publicly trusted CA.

We recommend that you start with the local API Mediation Layer CA for an initial evaluation.

You can use the <RUNTIME_DIR>/bin/zowe-setup-certificates.sh script in the Zowe runtime directory to configure certificates with the set of defined environment variables. The environment variables which act as parameters for the certificate configuration are held in the file <RUNTIME_DIR>/bin/zowe-setup-certificates.env.

Note: In order to enable Client Authentication in your generated certificate, your server certificate must contain the TLS Web Client Authentication ( value in the Extended Key Usage section. Additionally, the Digital signature and/or key agreement must be also set as an extension value in the Key Usage section. For more information, see Key usage extentions and extended key usage (opens new window) in the HCL Software documention.

# Generate a certificate with default values

You can generate a certificate with default values. Use a script to read the default variable values that are provided in the <RUNTIME_DIR>/bin/zowe-setup-certificates.env file. This script generates the certificate signed by the local API Mediation CA and keystores in the /global/zowe/keystore location. To set up certificates with the default environment variables, run the following script in the Zowe runtime directory:


This script generates the keystore in /global/zowe/keystore.

Note: As z/OS installations access to this location is restricted to privileged users, ensure that this step is performed by a system programmer with site knowledge of where the certificate should be stored so that the public key is readable but and that the private key access is controlled.

# Generate a certificate with custom values

We recommend that you review all parameters in the zowe-setup-certificates.env file, and customize the values for variables to meet your requirements. One example is to set your preferred location to generate certificates and keystores.

Use the the following procedure to customize the values for variables in the zowe-setup-certificates.env file.

Follow these steps:

  1. Copy the bin/zowe-setup-certificates.env file from the read-only location to a new <your_directory>/zowe-setup-certificates.env location.

  2. Customize the values for the variables based on the descriptions that are provided in the zowe-setup-certificates.env file.

  3. Execute the following command with the customized environment file:

     bin/zowe-setup-certificates.sh –p <your_directory>/zowe-setup-certificates.env [-l <log_directory>]


    • <your_directory>

      specifies the location of your customized environment file

    • <log-directory>

      is an optional parameter that overrides the default log output directory of /global/zowe/logs, if it is writable, or ~/zowe/logs.

The keystore and certificates are generated based on the customized values in the bin/zowe-setup-certificates.env file.

The zowe-setup-certificates.sh command also generates the zowe-certificates.env file in the KEYSTORE_DIRECTORY directory. This file is used in the Zowe instance configuration step. For more information, see Creating and configuring the Zowe instance directory.

# Configure zowe-setup-certificates.env to use existing certificates

The following procedure shows how to configure the zowe-setup-certificates.env file to use the existing certificates.

Follow these steps:

  1. Update the value of EXTERNAL_CERTIFICATE. The value needs to point to a keystore in PKCS12 format that contains the certificate with its private key. The file needs to be transferred as a binary to the z/OS system.

  2. Update the value of KEYSTORE_PASSWORD. The value is a password to the PKCS12 keystore specified in the EXTERNAL_CERTIFICATE variable.

  3. Update the value of EXTERNAL_CERTIFICATE_ALIAS to the alias of the server certificate in the keystore.

    Note: If you do not know the certificate alias, run the following command where externalCertificate.p12 is a value of EXTERNAL_CERTIFICATE in the zowe-setup-certificates.env file.

    keytool -list -keystore externalCertificate.p12 -storepass password -storetype pkcs12 -v

    Expected output:

    Keystore type: PKCS12
    Keystore provider: SUN
    Your keystore contains 1 entry
    Alias name: apiml
    Creation date: Oct 9, 2019
    Entry type: PrivateKeyEntry
    Certificate chain length: 3

    In this case, the alias can be found in Alias name: apiml. Therefore, set EXTERNAL_CERTIFICATE_ALIAS=apiml.

  4. Update the value of EXTERNAL_CERTIFICATE_AUTHORITIES to the path of the public certificate of the certificate authority that has signed the certificate. You can add additional certificate authorities separated by spaces.

    Note: Be sure to specify the complete value in quotes. This can be used for certificate authorities that have signed the certificates of the services that you want to access through the API Mediation Layer.

  5. (Optional) If you have trouble getting the certificates and you want only to evaluate Zowe, you can switch off the certificate validation by setting VERIFY_CERTIFICATES=false and NONSTRICT_VERIFY_CERTIFICATES=false. This setting continues to use HTTPS, but the API Mediation Layer will not validate any certificate.

    Important! Switching off certificate evaluation is a non-secure setup. Please talk to your system administrator before you do so and only use these options for troubleshooting purpose.

    The following script is the part of zowe-setup-certificates.env file that uses existing certificates:

    # Should APIML verify certificates of services it uses in strict mode - true/false
    # "strict mode" will verify if the certificates is trusted in truststore, also verify
    # if the certificate Common Name or Subject Alternate Name (SAN) match the service hostname.
    # if this value is true, NONSTRICT_VERIFY_CERTIFICATES will be ignored.
    # Should APIML verify certificates of services it uses in non-strict mode - true/false
    # "non-strict mode" will verify if the certificates is trusted in truststore, but
    # certificate Common Name or Subject Alternate Name (SAN) will NOT be checked.
    # optional - Path to a PKCS12 keystore with a server certificate for APIML
    # optional - Alias of the certificate in the keystore
    # optional - Public certificates of trusted CAs
    EXTERNAL_CERTIFICATE_AUTHORITIES="/path/to/cacert_1.cer /path/to/cacert_2.cer"
    # Select a password that is used to secure EXTERNAL_CERTIFICATE keystore and 
    # that will be also used to secure newly generated keystores for API Mediation

You may encounter the following message:

apiml_cm.sh --action trust-zosmf has failed. See $LOG_FILE for more details
ERROR: z/OSMF is not trusted by the API Mediation Layer. Make sure ZOWE_ZOSMF_HOST and ZOWE_ZOSMF_PORT variables define the desired z/OSMF instance.
You can also specify z/OSMF certificate explicitly in the ZOSMF_CERTIFICATE environmental variable in the zowe-setup-certificates.env file.

This error must be resolved before you can proceed with the next installation step.


On many z/OS systems, the certificate for z/OSMF is not signed by a trusted CA and is a self-signed certificate by the z/OS system programmer who configured z/OSMF. Based on the configuration, there is chance zowe-setup-certificates.sh may not be able to detect z/OSMF certificate and certificate authority successfully. In this case, you can define ZOSMF_CERTIFICATE= manually to let Zowe trust the certificate you determined.

If the certificate is from a recognized CA but for a different host name, which can occur when a trusted certificate is copied from one source and reused within a z/OS installation for different servers other than that it was originally created for. We recommended to regenerate certificates with correct HOSTNAME= option.

Switching off VERIFY_CERTIFICATES, especially NONSTRICT_VERIFY_CERTIFICATES is not recommended. It may expose security risks to your z/OS system.

# Using web tokens for SSO on ZLUX and ZSS

Users can use ZWESSOTK JCL to create a PKCS#11 token and configure required security setup. The ZWESSOTK JCL is provided as part of the PDS sample library SZWESAMP that is delivered with Zowe.

Before you submit the JCL, you must customize it and review it with a system programmer who is familiar with z/OS certificates. The JCL member contains commands for two z/OS security managers: RACF and TopSecret. Adding support of ACF/2 is a work in progress.

The ZWESSOTK JCL contains commands for the following scenarios:

  • Defining security requirements needed by following steps and using the PKCS#11 token.
  • Creation of a locally generated certificated can be used as JWT secret if it does not already exist.
  • Creation of PKCS#11 token.
  • Binding JWT secret certificate to the PKCS#11 token.

# Customizing the ZWESSOTK JCL

To customize the ZWESSOTK JCL, edit the JCL variables at the beginning of the JCL and carefully review and edit all the security commands that are valid for your security manager. Review the information in this section when you customize the JCL.

# PRODUCT variable

The PRODUCT variable specifies the z/OS security manager. The default value is RACF. Change the value to ACF2 or TSS if you are using Access Control Facility CA-ACF2 or CA Top Secret for z/OS as your z/OS security manager.

//         SET  PRODUCT=RACF         * RACF, ACF2, or TSS

# JWTDSNAM variable

If you already have a certificate you want to use as JWT secret, you can set the data set name and uncomment section Import JWT secret below.

# JWTLABEL variable

This is the certificate label of the JWT secret. This variable has a default value of jwtsecret. This label name should match the value of PKCS11_TOKEN_LABEL in zowe-setup-certificates.env.

# SSOTOKEN variable

This is the PKCS#11 token name will be created by ZWESSOTK JCL. This token name should match the value of PKCS11_TOKEN_NAME in zowe-setup-certificates.env.

# Enabling SSO

To enable SSO, you should run zowe-setup-certificates.sh with values of PKCS11_TOKEN_NAME and PKCS11_TOKEN_LABEL matching what you defined in ZWESSOTK JCL.

If you have already Zowe certificate generated, you should edit the zowe-certificates.env file in the KEYSTORE_DIRECTORY directory, set the PKCS11_TOKEN_NAME and PKCS11_TOKEN_LABEL with values which you have defined in ZWESSOTK JCL, and restart Zowe.

If you are upgrading from an old version of Zowe, you can

  • rerun zowe-setup-certificates.sh,
  • then overwrite KEYSTORE_DIRECTORY in your instance.env to the newly generated keystore directory.

# Hints and tips

Learn about some hints and tips that you might find useful when you create certificates.

You create the certificates by running the script zowe-setup-certificates.sh. You do not need to rerun the script after the first time you install Zowe, unless instructed otherwise by SMP/E HOLDDATA or the release notes for that release.

The creation of the certificates is controlled by the zowe-setup-certificates.env file, and you should have placed a copy of that file in your instance directory INSTANCE_DIR.

  1. Keystore

    In your copy of the zowe-setup-certificates.env file, specify the location where you want the zowe-setup-certificates.sh script to place the keys it generates.


    By default, a keystore can be shared by all instances, which is also recommended. The default location is /global/zowe/keystore. You can use a different shared location if you prefer. The Zowe instance uses the keystore that you specify in instance.env in your instance directory INSTANCE_DIR. This can be the shared location or you can create another keystore in a different location for that instance and use that one instead. A single, shared keystore is recommended.

  2. Hostname and IP address

    You specify the hostname and IP address with the following keywords in the zowe-setup-certificates.env file.


    The certificates require the value of HOSTNAME to be an alphabetic hostname. Numeric hostnames such as an IP address are not allowed.

    The zowe-setup-certificates.sh script attempts to discover the IP address and hostname of your system if you leave these unconfigured in zowe-setup-certificates.env.

    On systems with their own internal IP domain, the hostname might not resolve to the external IP address. This happens on ZD&T ADCD-derived systems, where the hostname is usually S0W1.DAL-EBIS.IHOST.COM which resolves to When the script cannot determine the hostname or the external IP address, it will ask you to enter the IP address manually during the dialog. If you have not specified a value for HOSTNAME in zowe-setup-certificates.env, then the script will use the given IP address as the hostname. This will fail because certificates cannot have a numeric hostname.

    Therefore, you must specify an alphabetic hostname such as the following one on ZD&T systems before you run the script zowe-setup-certificates.sh.


    The values of HOSTNAME and IPADDRESS that the script discovered are appended to the zowe-setup-certificates.env file unless they were already set in that file or as shell environment variables before you ran the script.