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Version: v2.5.x LTS

Configuring PKCS12 certificates

Configuring PKCS12 certificates

Zowe is able to use PKCS12 certificates that are stored in USS. This certificate is used for encrypting TLS communication between Zowe clients and the Zowe z/OS servers, as well as intra z/OS Zowe server to Zowe server. Zowe uses a keystore directory to contain its external certificate, and a truststore directory to hold the public keys of servers it communicate with (for example z/OSMF).

Using USS PKCS12 certificates is useful for proof of concept projects using a self signed certificates. For production usage of Zowe it is recomended to work with certificates held in z/OS keyrings. Working with z/OS keyrings may require system administrator priviledges and working with your z/OS security team, so the self signed PKCS12 path is provided to assist with configuring and launching test and scratch Zowe instances.

Use a PKCS12 certificate

When Zowe is launched details for the PKCS12 certificate used are specified in the zowe.yaml section certificates. This contains information for the certificate name and its location, together with the truststore location.

The two most common scenario for using a PKCS12 certtificate are where you have been given an existing certificate and wish to configure Zowe to use it, or else you do not have a certificate and wish to generate a new one. The zwe init certificate command supports both scenarios. The input parameters that control certificate configuration are specified in the section zowe.setup.certificates

Create a self signed PKCS12 certificate

The following zowe.yaml example will generate:

  • A PKCS12 certificate, specified in zowe.setup.certificate.type
  • A keystore directory /global/zowe/keystore specified in
  • A certificate name (or alias) localhost specified in
  • A certificate authority name local_ca specified in zowe.setup.certificate.certificate.pkcs12.caAlias.
type: PKCS12
validity: 3650
directory: /global/zowe/keystore
name: localhost
password: password
caAlias: local_ca
caPassword: local_ca_password

To assist with updating zowe.yaml the values to generate a self signed PKCS12 certificate are included in the section beginning # >>>> Certificate setup scenario 1. Other certificate scenarios lower down in the zowe.yaml file are commented out.

The zwe init certificate command will generate a certificate based on the zowe.yaml values in the zowe.setup.certificate section. These certificate values used at runtime are referenced in the zowe.yanl section zowe.certificates. Specify --update-config for the zwe command to update the runtime zowe.certificates section to reference the generated certificate generated from the zowe.setup.certificate.

The follow command output shows generation of a self signed PKCS12 certificate using the default values. Some detailed output messages have been omitted, but the flow can be viewed that creates the CA, creates the keystore and adds the CA to it, create the certificate and adds that to the keystore, creates the truststore, changes directory permissions to restrict access to the private key.

#>zwe init certificate -c ./zowe.yaml --update-config
>> Creating certificate authority "local_ca"
>> Certificate authority local_ca is created successfully.
>> Export keystore /global/zowe/keystore/local_ca/local_ca.keystore.p12
>> Keystore /global/zowe/keystore/local_ca/local_ca.keystore.p12 is exported successfully.
>> Creating certificate "localhost"
>> Certificate localhost is created successfully.
>> Export keystore /global/zowe/keystore/localhost/localhost.keystore.p12
>> Keystore /global/zowe/keystore/localhost/localhost.keystore.p12 is exported successfully.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Export keystore /global/zowe/keystore/localhost/localhost.truststore.p12
>> Keystore /global/zowe/keystore/localhost/localhost.truststore.p12 is exported successfully.
>> Lock keystore directory /global/zowe/keystore
>> Keystore directory /global/zowe/keystore is locked.
>> Update certificate configuration to ./zowe.yaml

- update "zowe.certificate.keystore.type" with value: PKCS12
- update "zowe.certificate.pem.certificateAuthorities" with value: /global/zowe/keystore/local_ca/local_ca.cer

>> Zowe configuration is updated successfully.


Because --update-config was specified the zowe.certificates section's values are updated to reference the newly generated certificate. These updates are logged by the zwe init certificate command output. Open the zowe.yaml file to check the references to the newly generated certificate values, as shown below:

type: PKCS12
file: /global/zowe/keystore/localhost/localhost.keystore.p12
password: password
alias: localhost
type: PKCS12
file: /global/zowe/keystore/localhost/localhost.truststore.p12
password: password
key: /global/zowe/keystore/localhost/localhost.key
certificate: /global/zowe/keystore/localhost/localhost.cer
certificateAuthorities: /global/zowe/keystore/local_ca/local_ca.cer

When using a self-signed certificate, you will be challenged by your browser when logging in to Zowe to accept its untrusted certificate authority. Depending on the browser you are using there are different ways to proceed.

Manually import a certificate authority into a web browser

To avoid the browser untrusted CA challenge, you can import Zowe's certificates into the browser to avoid untrusted network traffic challenges. For more information, see Import the local CA certificate to your browser.

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.