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Is there any standard or convention for where SSL certificates and associated private keys should go on the UNIX/Linux filesystem?


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up vote 30 down vote accepted

For system wide use OpenSSL should provide you /etc/ssl/certs and /etc/ssl/private. The latter of which will be restricted 700 to root:root.

If you have an application not performing an initial privsep from root then it might suit you to locate them somewhere local to the application with the relevantly restricted ownership and permissions.

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I have indeed, thanks Dan. – John Topley Sep 4 '09 at 16:11
is this standardized somewhere? The file system hierarchy standard doesn't contain it. – cweiske Dec 4 '13 at 20:50
@cweiske This seems to be historical OpenSSL convention, not formally standardized, and a very unwieldy one in my opinion. My earliest trace is this version:… – kubanczyk Apr 2 '15 at 21:20
Worth noting that this is only Debian based distros. – DWORD PTR Sep 16 '15 at 8:23

This is where Go looks for public root certificates:

"/etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt", // Debian/Ubuntu/Gentoo etc.
"/etc/pki/tls/certs/ca-bundle.crt",   // Fedora/RHEL
"/etc/ssl/ca-bundle.pem",             // OpenSUSE
"/etc/pki/tls/cacert.pem",            // OpenELEC


"/system/etc/security/cacerts", // Android
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This will vary from distribution to distribution. For example, on Amazon Linux instances (based on RHEL 5.x and parts of RHEL6, and compatible with CentOS), the certificates are stored in /etc/pki/tls/certs and the keys are stored in /etc/pki/tls/private. The CA certificates have their own directory, /etc/pki/CA/certs and /etc/pki/CA/private. For any given distribution, especially on hosted servers, I recommend to follow the already-available directory (and permissions) structure, if one is available.

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