[openssl-users] Cant get openssl x509 to work as documented

Jakob Bohm jb-openssl at wisemo.com
Wed Aug 23 19:52:29 UTC 2017

On 22/08/2017 22:26, Robert Moskowitz wrote:
> Want to continue this thread but with new information.  I built a 
> Fedora-arm 26 system (on a Cubieboard2) and it has openssl version 1.1.0f
> I built my DER root cert (and private key) no problem.
> I built my DER Intermediate cert private key and CSR no problem.
> For the following command:
> sn=8
> format=der
> dir=/root/ca3
> cadir=/root/ca3
> openssl x509 -req -days 3650 -extfile $cadir/openssl-root.cnf 
> -extensions v3_intermediate_ca\
>  -sha256 -set_serial 0x$(openssl rand -hex $sn)\
>  -inform $format -in $dir/csr/intermediate.csr.$format\
>  -outform $format -out $dir/certs/intermediate.cert.$format\
>  -CAkeyform $format -CAkey $cadir/private/ca.key.$format\
>  -CAform $format -CA $cadir/certs/ca.cert.$format
> I built this reading:
> https://www.openssl.org/docs/man1.1.0/apps/x509.html
> This generates:
> 3069592528:error:0906D06C:PEM routines:PEM_read_bio:no start 
> line:crypto/pem/pem_lib.c:691:Expecting: CERTIFICATE REQUEST
> The man page above has CAkeyform and CAform in the summary, but no 
> details below.  I am ASSUMEing DER is now supported.
> for -sha256, I finally figured out that -[digest] is how the the man 
> presents which hash to use.
> Why does this command use -extfile and not -config?  Is it because ALL 
> that is taken from config is -extensions?  Confusing to the casual user.
> But why the error?
> And yes, I know I can convert a PEM cert to DER, but I would also have 
> to convert the private key, and maintain duo structures in places.  
> Would RATHER have a parallel setup.  Of course there is the challenge 
> of the cert chain that Viktor earlier explained. OCSP? :)
I don't think you have to pass all the various formats as PEM just
because you pass one of them as such.  After all, there are separate
-XXXform style options for most of them.

For example, you could store the CA private key in the encryption-
supporting PEM format on the plentyful memory of the SD card, while
using the more compact DER format for certificates and CSRs stored
on embedded controllers (ECUs, dashboard displays etc.).

Where OpenSSL bugs prevent use of DER for a file, it can be converted
on the fly, storing the converted file in RAM (using tmpfs or similar).


Jakob Bohm, CIO, Partner, WiseMo A/S.  https://www.wisemo.com
Transformervej 29, 2860 Søborg, Denmark.  Direct +45 31 13 16 10
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