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4.2. The Red Hat Satellite SSL Maintenance Tool

Red Hat Satellite provides a command line tool to ease the management of the organization's secure infrastructure: the Red Hat Satellite SSL Tool, commonly known by its command rhn-ssl-tool. This tool is available as part of the spacewalk-certs-tools package. This package can be found within the software channels for the latest Red Hat Proxy Server and Red Hat Satellite Server (as well as the Red Hat Satellite Server ISO). The Red Hat Satellite SSL Tool enables organizations to generate their own Certificate Authority SSL key pair, as well as Web server SSL key sets (sometimes called key pairs).
This tool is only a build tool. It generates all of the SSL keys and certificates that are required. It also packages the files in RPM format for quick distribution and installation on all client machines. It does not deploy them. That is left to the administrator, or in many cases, automated by the Red Hat Satellite Server.


The spacewalk-certs-tools, which contains rhn-ssl-tool, can be installed and run on any current Red Hat Enterprise Linux system with minimal requirements. This is offered as a convenience for administrators who want to manage their SSL infrastructure from their workstation or another system other than their Satellite or Proxy servers.
The Red Hat Satellite SSL Tool is required in the following situations:
  • When updating the Certificate Authority (CA) public certificate.
  • When installing a Red Hat Proxy Server 3.6 or later that connects to the central Red Hat Satellite Servers as its top-level service. The hosted service, for security reasons, cannot be a repository for the CA SSL key and certificate, which is private to the organization.
  • When reconfiguring the Satellite or Proxy infrastructure to use SSL where it previously did not.
  • When adding multiple Red Hat Satellite Servers to the Red Hat Satellite infrastructure. Consult with a Red Hat representative for instructions regarding this.
The Red Hat Satellite SSL Tool is not required in the following situations:
  • During installation of a Red Hat Satellite Server. All SSL settings are configured during the installation process. The SSL keys and certificate are built and deployed automatically.
  • During installation of a Red Hat Proxy Server 3.6 or later if connected to a Red Hat Satellite Server 3.6 or later as its top-level service. The Red Hat Satellite Server contains all of the SSL information needed to configure, build and deploy the Red Hat Proxy Server's SSL keys and certificates.
The installation procedures for both the Red Hat Satellite Server and the Red Hat Proxy Server ensure the CA SSL public certificate is deployed to the /pub directory of each server. This public certificate is used by the client systems to connect to the Red Hat Satellite Server. See Section 4.3, “Deploying the CA SSL Public Certificate to Clients” for more information.
In summary, if the organization's Satellite or Proxy infrastructure deploys the latest version of Red Hat Satellite Server as its top-level service, there should be little need to use the Red Hat Satellite SSL Tool.

4.2.1. Generating SSL Certificates

The primary benefits of using the Red Hat Satellite SSL Maintenance Tool are security, flexibility, and portability. Security is achieved through the creation of distinct Web server SSL keys and certificates for each Red Hat Satellite server, all signed by a single Certificate Authority SSL key pair created by the organization. Flexibility is supplied by the tool's ability to work on any machine that has the spacewalk-certs-tools package installed. Portability exists in a build structure that can be stored anywhere for safe keeping and then installed whenever the need arises.
If the organization infrastructure's top-level Server is the most current Red Hat Satellite Server, the most that may be required is to restore the ssl-build tree from an archive to the /root directory and utilize the configuration tools provided within the Red Hat Satellite Server's website.
To make the best use of the Red Hat Satellite SSL Maintenance Tool, complete the following high-level tasks in the following order. See the remaining sections for the required details:
  1. Install the spacewalk-certs-tools package on a system within the organization, perhaps but not necessarily the Red Hat Satellite Server or Red Hat Proxy Server.
  2. Create a single Certificate Authority SSL key pair for the organization and install the resulting RPM or public certificate on all client systems. See Section 4.2.3, “Generating the Certificate Authority SSL Key Pair” for more information.
  3. Create a Web server SSL key set for each of the Proxy and Satellite servers to be deployed and install the resulting RPM files on the Red Hat Satellite servers.
  4. Restart the httpd service:
    # service httpd restart 
  5. Back up the SSL build tree - consisting of the primary build directory and all subdirectories and files - to removable media, such as a CD or DVD. (Disk space requirements are insignificant.)
  6. Verify and then store that archive in a safe location, such as the one described for backups in the Additional Requirements sections of either the Proxy or Satellite installation guide.
  7. Record and secure the CA password for future use.
  8. Delete the build tree from the build system for security purposes, but only after the entire Satellite infrastructure is in place and configured.


    When additional Web server SSL key sets are needed, restore the build tree on a system running the Red Hat Satellite SSL Maintenance Tool and repeat steps 3 through 7.