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Version: v1.28.x LTS

Configuring Zowe certificates in a key ring

Configuring Zowe certificates in a key ring

Zowe is able to work with certificates held in a z/OS Keyring. For background on Zowe certificates, see Configuring Zowe certificates. To configure Zowe certificates in a key ring, run the ZWEKRING JCL that contains the security commands to create the key ring and manage the certificates that Zowe will use. The ZWEKRING 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 and key rings. The JCL member contains commands for three z/OS security managers: RACF, TopSecret, and ACF/2.

The ZWEKRING JCL contains commands for three scenarios:

  • Creation of a local CA which is used to sign a locally generated certificate, both of which are placed into the key ring.
  • Importing an existing certificate already held in z/OS to the key ring for use by Zowe.
  • Creation of a locally generated certificated and signing it with an existing certificate authority, and placing the certificate into the key ring.

After you run the ZWEKRING JCL, a keyring named ZoweKeyring containing the Zowe certificate is created. In order for a Zowe instance to work with the keystore certificate, you also need to create a USS keystore directory. This USS keystore directory does not contain any certificates, but is required for the Zowe instance.env file to configure the Zowe shell correctly so that the keystore certificate can be located by the Zowe runtime.

To create the USS keystore directory after successfully running ZWEKRING JCL member, run the script <RUNTIME_DIR>/bin/ This script has an input parameter -p which specifies the location of a configuration file controlling how and where the directory and its contents are created. Copy the file <RUNTIME_DIR>/bin/zowe-setup-certificates.env to a writeable location and review and edit its contents to match property values used in ZWEKRING JCL member. Then, run the script by using the following command: -p <path to zowe-setup-keyring-certificates.env>

Watch this end to end video for the top down scenario, where a RACF certificate authority is generated and used to self-sign Zowe's certificate, both of which are held in the ZoweKeyring.

Download the script

Customizing the ZWEKRING JCL

To customize the ZWEKRING 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 ACF2 or Top Secret for z/OS as your z/OS security manager.

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


The Zowe certificate is used on the northbound edge of the API Mediation Layer to encrypt data between web browser and other client applications such as the Zowe command line interface. These client applications will validate that the network TCP/IP address that they have accessed the encrypted data from matches the network address in the certificate. If the address does not match, the browser will not continue as it will consider the site as unsecure.

To ensure that the browser is able to establish a secure connection, set the HOSTNAME and IPADDRESS in the ZWEKRING JCL member to match the hostname and TCP/IP address of the Zowe API Mediation Layer.

//*      * Hostname of the system where Zowe is to run
//* * IP address of the system where Zowe is to run
//* * Keyring for the Zowe userid


The ZOWERING label is used for the name of the key ring created. The default value is ZoweKeyring. The LABEL label specifies the certificate name and defaults to localhost.

//         SET ZOWERING='ZoweKeyring'
//* * Zowe's certificate label
// SET LABEL='localhost'
  • The value of the ZOWERING label should match the value of the ZOWE_KEYRING variable in the zowe-setup-keyring-certificates.env file.
  • The value of the LABEL label should match the value of the KEYSTORE_ALIAS variable in the zowe-setup-keyring-certificates.env file.


The ROOTZFCA label connects the root CA of the z/OSMF certificate with the Zowe key ring.

When to set this label?

The value of the parameter VERIFY_CERTIFICATES and NONSTRICT_VERIFY_CERTIFICATES in the zowe-certificates.env file in the KEYSTORE_DIRECTORY controls whether Zowe's servers validate the authenticity of any southbound certificates at runtime. If the NONSTRICT_VERIFY_CERTIFICATES value is true, then the certificate must be signed by a recognized certificate authority (CA), and if the value is false then Zowe services will not validate authenticity of the certificate. If the VERIFY_CERTIFICATES value is true, beyond the validation of NONSTRICT_VERIFY_CERTIFICATES, Zowe will also validate if the certificate "Common Name" or "Subject Alternate Name" (SAN) matches the domain name. This section of the keystore configuration is only required if you are using VERIFY_CERTIFICATES=true or NONSTRICT_VERIFY_CERTIFICATES=true.

When you set VERIFY_CERTIFICATES=true or NONSTRICT_VERIFY_CERTIFICATES=true, then Zowe will validate the authenticity of the z/OSMF certificate, so the root CA of the z/OSMF certificate must be connected with the Zowe key ring. You can connect them by setting the label ROOTZFCA.

//*      * Name/Label of the root CA of the z/OSMF certificate

If you are unsure of the root CA you can find it by listing the chain of the z/OSMF certificate using the following commands:

  • RACF


    You can use the CERTAUTH certificate label as the value of ROOTZFCA.

  • Top Secret


    If you see a line like DIGICERT = ZOSMFCA ACCESSORID = CERTAUTH, you should use CERTAUTH record ID ZOSMFCA as the value of ROOTZFCA.

  • ACF2


    You should use CERTAUTH record ID as the value of ROOTZFCA.


When the ZWEKRING JCL runs successfully, it will create a key ring named ZoweKeyring owned by ZWESVUSR containing the following:

  • The Zowe certificate (called localhost)
  • The local CA (called ZoweCert)

When the script executes successfully, it will generate the USS KEYSTORE_DIRECTORY that contains the file zowe-certificates.env. This file is used in the Zowe instance configuration step. See Creating and configuring the Zowe instance directory.


The JCL member ZWENOKYR provided in the PDS sample library SZWESAMP contains the inverse commands contained in ZWEKKRING. This allows an environment to be cleaned up and have one or more certificates, key rings, and certificate authorities created by ZWEKRING removed from the z/OS environment. This is useful if you are creating a DevOps pipeline to install and configure and environment for Zowe using ZWEKRING and want to clean that environment before rerunning the pipeline.