ovs-pki(8)                   Open vSwitch Manual                  ovs-pki(8)

NAME         top

       ovs-pki - OpenFlow public key infrastructure management utility

SYNOPSIS         top

       Each command takes the form:

       ovs-pki [options] command [args]

       The implemented commands and their arguments are:
       ovs-pki init
       ovs-pki req name
       ovs-pki sign name [type]
       ovs-pki req+sign name [type]
       ovs-pki verify name [type]
       ovs-pki fingerprint file
       ovs-pki self-sign name

       Each type above is a certificate type, either switch (default) or

       The available options are:
       [-k type | --key=type]
       [-B nbits | --bits=nbits]
       [-D file | --dsaparam=file]
       [-b | --batch]
       [-f | --force]
       [-d dir | --dir=dir]
       [-l file | --log=file]
       [-u | --unique]
       [-h | --help]

       Some options do not apply to every command.

DESCRIPTION         top

       The ovs-pki program sets up and manages a public key infrastructure
       for use with OpenFlow.  It is intended to be a simple interface for
       organizations that do not have an established public key
       infrastructure.  Other PKI tools can substitute for or supplement the
       use of ovs-pki.

       ovs-pki uses openssl(1) for certificate management and key


       The following ovs-pki commands support manual PKI administration:

       init   Initializes a new PKI (by default in directory
              /usr/local/var/lib/openvswitch/pki) and populates it with a
              pair of certificate authorities for controllers and switches.

              This command should ideally be run on a high-security machine
              separate from any OpenFlow controller or switch, called the CA
              machine.  The files pki/controllerca/cacert.pem and
              pki/switchca/cacert.pem that it produces will need to be
              copied over to the OpenFlow switches and controllers,
              respectively.  Their contents may safely be made public.

              By default, ovs-pki generates 2048-bit RSA keys.  The -B or
              --bits option (see below) may be used to override the key
              length.  The -k dsa or --key=dsa option may be used to use DSA
              in place of RSA.  If DSA is selected, the dsaparam.pem file
              generated in the new PKI hierarchy must be copied to any
              machine on which the req command (see below) will be executed.
              Its contents may safely be made public.

              Other files generated by init may remain on the CA machine.
              The files pki/controllerca/private/cakey.pem and
              pki/switchca/private/cakey.pem have particularly sensitive
              contents that should not be exposed.

       req name
              Generates a new private key named name-privkey.pem and
              corresponding certificate request named name-req.pem.  The
              private key can be intended for use by a switch or a

              This command should ideally be run on the switch or controller
              that will use the private key to identify itself.  The file
              name-req.pem must be copied to the CA machine for signing with
              the sign command (below).

              This command will output a fingerprint to stdout as its final
              step.  Write down the fingerprint and take it to the CA
              machine before continuing with the sign step.

              When RSA keys are in use (as is the default), req, unlike the
              rest of ovs-pki's commands, does not need access to a PKI
              hierarchy created by ovs-pki init.  The -B or --bits option
              (see below) may be used to specify the number of bits in the
              generated RSA key.

              When DSA keys are used (as specified with --key=dsa), req
              needs access to the dsaparam.pem file created as part of the
              PKI hierarchy (but not to other files in that tree).  By
              default, ovs-pki looks for this file in
              /usr/local/var/lib/openvswitch/pki/dsaparam.pem, but the -D or
              --dsaparam option (see below) may be used to specify an
              alternate location.

              name-privkey.pem has sensitive contents that should not be
              exposed.  name-req.pem may be safely made public.

       sign name [type]
              Signs the certificate request named name-req.pem that was
              produced in the previous step, producing a certificate named
              name-cert.pem.  type, either switch (default) or controller,
              indicates the use for which the key is being certified.

              This command must be run on the CA machine.

              The command will output a fingerprint to stdout and request
              that you verify that it is the same fingerprint output by the
              req command.  This ensures that the request being signed is
              the same one produced by req.  (The -b or --batch option
              suppresses the verification step.)

              The file name-cert.pem will need to be copied back to the
              switch or controller for which it is intended.  Its contents
              may safely be made public.

       req+sign name [type]
              Combines the req and sign commands into a single step,
              outputting all the files produced by each.  The
              name-privkey.pem and name-cert.pem files must be copied
              securely to the switch or controller.  name-privkey.pem has
              sensitive contents and must not be exposed in transit.
              Afterward, it should be deleted from the CA machine.

              This combined method is, theoretically, less secure than the
              individual steps performed separately on two different
              machines, because there is additional potential for exposure
              of the private key.  However, it is also more convenient.

       verify name [type]
              Verifies that name-cert.pem is a valid certificate for the
              given type of use, either switch (default) or controller.  If
              the certificate is valid for this use, it prints the message
              ``name-cert.pem: OK''; otherwise, it prints an error message.

       fingerprint file
              Prints the fingerprint for file.  If file is a certificate,
              then this is the SHA-1 digest of the DER encoded version of
              the certificate; otherwise, it is the SHA-1 digest of the
              entire file.

       self-sign name
              Signs the certificate request named name-req.pem using the
              private key name-privkey.pem, producing a self-signed
              certificate named name-cert.pem.  The input files should have
              been produced with ovs-pki req.

              Some controllers accept such self-signed certificates.

OPTIONS         top

       -k type
              For the init command, sets the public key algorithm to use for
              the new PKI hierarchy.  For the req and req+sign commands,
              sets the public key algorithm to use for the key to be
              generated, which must match the value specified on init.  With
              other commands, the value has no effect.

              The type may be rsa (the default) or dsa.

       -B nbits
              Sets the number of bits in the key to be generated.  When RSA
              keys are in use, this option affects only the init, req, and
              req+sign commands, and the same value should be given each
              time.  With DSA keys are in use, this option affects only the
              init command.

              The value must be at least 1024.  The default is 2048.

       -D file
              Specifies an alternate location for the dsaparam.pem file
              required by the req and req+sign commands.  This option
              affects only these commands, and only when DSA keys are used.

              The default is dsaparam.pem under the PKI hierarchy.

              Suppresses the interactive verification of fingerprints that
              the sign command by default requires.

       -d dir
              Specifies the location of the PKI hierarchy to be used or
              created by the command (default:
              /usr/local/var/lib/openvswitch/pki).  All commands, except
              req, need access to a PKI hierarchy.

              By default, ovs-pki will not overwrite existing files or
              directories.  This option overrides this behavior.

       -l file
              Sets the log file to file.  Default:

              Changes the format of the certificate's Common Name (CN)
              field; by default, this field has the format "<name> id:<uuid-
              or-date>", this option causes the provided name to be treated
              as unique and changes the format of the CN field to be simply

       --help Prints a help usage message and exits.

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the Open vSwitch (a distributed virtual
       multilayer switch) project.  Information about the project can be
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       this manual page, send it to  This page was
       obtained from the project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨⟩ on 2018-02-02.  (At that
       time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in the repos‐
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Open vSwitch                       2.8.90                         ovs-pki(8)