Each command takes the form:
ovs-pki [options] command [args]
The implemented commands and their arguments are:
ovs-pki initovs-pki req nameovs-pki sign name [type]
ovs-pki req+sign name [type]
ovs-pki verify name [type]
ovs-pki fingerprint fileovs-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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The default is dsaparam.pem under the PKI hierarchy.
Suppresses the interactive verification of fingerprints
that the sign command by default requires.
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.
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 "<name>".
-h--help Prints a help usage message and exits.
This page is part of the Open vSwitch (a distributed virtual
multilayer switch) project. Information about the project can be
found at ⟨http://openvswitch.org/⟩. If you have a bug report for
this manual page, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. This page was
obtained from the project's upstream Git repository
⟨https://github.com/openvswitch/ovs.git⟩ on 2021-08-27. (At that
time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in the
repository was 2021-08-20.) If you discover any rendering
problems in this HTML version of the page, or you believe there
is a better or more up-to-date source for the page, or you have
corrections or improvements to the information in this COLOPHON
(which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail to
Open vSwitch 2.11.90 ovs-pki(8)