Chapter 4. Using shared system certificates

The shared system certificates storage enables NSS, GnuTLS, OpenSSL, and Java to share a default source for retrieving system certificate anchors and block-list information. By default, the truststore contains the Mozilla CA list, including positive and negative trust. The system allows updating the core Mozilla CA list or choosing another certificate list.

4.1. The system-wide truststore

In RHEL, the consolidated system-wide truststore is located in the /etc/pki/ca-trust/ and /usr/share/pki/ca-trust-source/ directories. The trust settings in /usr/share/pki/ca-trust-source/ are processed with lower priority than settings in /etc/pki/ca-trust/.

Certificate files are treated depending on the subdirectory they are installed to:

  • Trust anchors belong to

    • /usr/share/pki/ca-trust-source/anchors/ or
    • /etc/pki/ca-trust/source/anchors/.
  • Distrusted certificates are stored in

    • /usr/share/pki/ca-trust-source/blocklist/ or
    • /etc/pki/ca-trust/source/blocklist/.
  • Certificates in the extended BEGIN TRUSTED file format are located in

    • /usr/share/pki/ca-trust-source/ or
    • /etc/pki/ca-trust/source/.

In a hierarchical cryptographic system, a trust anchor is an authoritative entity that other parties consider trustworthy. In the X.509 architecture, a root certificate is a trust anchor from which a chain of trust is derived. To enable chain validation, the trusting party must have access to the trust anchor first.

Additional resources

  • update-ca-trust(8) and trust(1) man pages

4.2. Adding new certificates

To acknowledge applications on your system with a new source of trust, add the corresponding certificate to the system-wide store, and use the update-ca-trust command.


  • The ca-certificates package is present on the system.


  1. To add a certificate in the simple PEM or DER file formats to the list of CAs trusted on the system, copy the certificate file to the /usr/share/pki/ca-trust-source/anchors/ or /etc/pki/ca-trust/source/anchors/ directory, for example:

    # cp ~/certificate-trust-examples/Cert-trust-test-ca.pem /usr/share/pki/ca-trust-source/anchors/
  2. To update the system-wide truststore configuration, use the update-ca-trust command:

    # update-ca-trust

Even though the Firefox browser can use an added certificate without a prior execution of update-ca-trust, enter the update-ca-trust command after every CA change. Also note that browsers, such as Firefox, Chromium, and GNOME Web cache files, and you might have to clear your browser’s cache or restart your browser to load the current system certificate configuration.

Additional resources

  • update-ca-trust(8) and trust(1) man pages

4.3. Managing trusted system certificates

The trust command provides a convenient way for managing certificates in the shared system-wide truststore.

  • To list, extract, add, remove, or change trust anchors, use the trust command. To see the built-in help for this command, enter it without any arguments or with the --help directive:

    $ trust
    usage: trust command <args>...
    Common trust commands are:
      list             List trust or certificates
      extract          Extract certificates and trust
      extract-compat   Extract trust compatibility bundles
      anchor           Add, remove, change trust anchors
      dump             Dump trust objects in internal format
    See 'trust <command> --help' for more information
  • To list all system trust anchors and certificates, use the trust list command:

    $ trust list
        type: certificate
        label: ACCVRAIZ1
        trust: anchor
        category: authority
        type: certificate
        label: ACEDICOM Root
        trust: anchor
        category: authority
  • To store a trust anchor into the system-wide truststore, use the trust anchor sub-command and specify a path to a certificate. Replace <> by a path to your certificate and its file name:

    # trust anchor <>
  • To remove a certificate, use either a path to a certificate or an ID of a certificate:

    # trust anchor --remove <>
    # trust anchor --remove "pkcs11:id=<%AA%BB%CC%DD%EE>;type=cert"

Additional resources

  • All sub-commands of the trust commands offer a detailed built-in help, for example:

    $ trust list --help
    usage: trust list --filter=<what>
      --filter=<what>     filter of what to export
                            ca-anchors        certificate anchors
      --purpose=<usage>   limit to certificates usable for the purpose
                            server-auth       for authenticating servers

Additional resources

  • update-ca-trust(8) and trust(1) man pages