Generate a certificate signing request

  • Last updated on: 2018-10-23
  • Authored by: Stephanie Fillmon

Before you can install a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate, you must first generate a certificate signing request (CSR). You can do this by using one of the following methods:

OpenSSL

The following sections describe how to use OpenSSL to generate a CSR for a single host name. If you want to generate a CSR for multiple host names, we recommend using the Cloud Control Panel or the MyRackspace portal.

Install OpenSSL

Check whether OpenSSL is installed by using the following command:

  • CentOS® and Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®

    rpm -qa | grep -i openssl
    

    The following output provides an example of what the command returns:

    openssl-1.0.1e-48.el6_8.1.x86_64
    openssl-devel-1.0.1e-48.el6_8.1.x86_64
    openssl-1.0.1e-48.el6_8.1.i686
    
  • Debian® and Ubuntu®

    dpkg -l | grep openssl
    

    The following output provides an example of what the command returns:

    ii  libgnutls-openssl27:amd64           2.12.23-12ubuntu2.4              amd64        GNU TLS library - OpenSSL wrapper
    ii  openssl                             1.0.1f-1ubuntu2.16               amd64        Secure Sockets Layer toolkit - cryptographic utility
    

If the preceding packages are not returned, install OpenSSL by running the following command:

  • CentOS and Red Hat

    yum install openssl openssl-devel
    
  • Debian and Ubuntu

    apt-get install openssl
    

Generate the RSA key

Run the following commands to create a directory in which to store your RSA key, substituting a directory name of your choice:

mkdir ~/domain.com.ssl/
cd ~/domain.com.ssl/

Run the following command to generate a private key:

openssl genrsa -out ~/domain.com.ssl/domain.com.key 2048

Create a CSR

Run the following command to create a CSR with the RSA private key (output is in Privacy-Enhanced Mail (PEM) format):

openssl req -new -sha256 -key ~/domain.com.ssl/domain.com.key -out ~/domain.com.ssl/domain.com.csr

When prompted, enter the necessary information for creating a CSR by using the conventions shown in the following table.

Note: You cannot use the following characters in the Organization Name or Organizational Unit fields: < > ~ ! @ # $ % ^ * / \ ( ) ? . , &

Field Explanation Example
Common Name The fully qualified domain name to which the certificate applies. The domain names example.com and www.example.com are distinct from each other, so be sure to submit your request for the right domain. If you are purchasing a wildcard certificate, use *.example.com. example.com
Organization Name The exact legal name of your organization. The Certificate Authority (CA) might seek to confirm that your organization is real and legally registered, so don’t abbreviate words that aren’t abbreviated in the organization’s legal name. Example Inc.
Organizational Unit The branch of your organization that is making the request. Marketing
City/locality The city where your organization is legally located. Do not abbreviate the city name. San Antonio
State/province The state or province where your organization is legally located. Do not abbreviate the state or province name. Texas
Country/region The two-letter International Standards Organization (ISO) abbreviation for your country. US

Warning: Leave the challenge password blank (press Enter).

Verify your CSR

Run the following command to verify your CSR:

openssl req -noout -text -in ~/domain.com.ssl/domain.com.csr

After you have verified your CSR, you can submit it to a CA to purchase an SSL certificate.

Windows IIS Manager

Use the following steps to generate a CSR by using Windows IIS Manager:

Note: The following steps are for IIS 8 or IIS 8.5 on Windows Server 2012.

  1. Open IIS Manager.
  2. In the left-hand Connections pane, click the server for which you want to generate a CSR.
  3. In the center server Home pane under the IIS section, double-click Server Certificates.
  4. In the right-hand Actions pane, click Create Certificate Request.
  5. In the Request Certificate wizard, on the Distinguished Name Properties page, enter the following information and then click Next.

    Field Explanation Example
    Common Name The fully qualified domain name to which the certificate applies. The domain names example.com and www.example.com are distinct from each other, so be sure to submit your request for the right domain. If you are purchasing a wildcard certificate, use *.example.com. example.com
    Organization Name The exact legal name of your organization. The CA might seek to confirm that your organization is real and legally registered, so don’t abbreviate words that aren’t abbreviated in the organization’s legal name. Example Inc.
    Organizational Unit The branch of your organization that is making the request. Marketing
    City/locality The city where your organization is legally located. Do not abbreviate the city name. San Antonio
    State/province The state or province where your organization is legally located. Do not abbreviate the state or province name. Texas
    Country/region The two-letter ISO abbreviation for your country. US
  6. On the Cryptographic Server Provider Properties page, enter the following information and then click Next.

    • Cryptographic service provider: Unless you have a specific cryptographic provider, use the default selection.
    • Bit length: 2048 is the recommended bit length.
  7. On the File Name page, enter the location where you want to save the certificate request file and then click Finish.

After you have generated the CSR, you can submit it to a CA to purchase an SSL certificate.

Cloud Control Panel

Rackspace provides the CSR Generator for generating a CSR. The CSR Generator shows you the CSRs that you currently have and lets you create new CSRs with a simple form. After you have entered your details, the generator combines them with your private key so that you can submit the combined encoded information to a CA.

When you are done with the generator, you can return to the Cloud Control Panel by clicking any of the terms in the top navigation or by going to login.rackspace.com and selecting Rackspace Cloud from the drop-down product menu in the top navigation bar.

Access the CSR Generator

Access the CSR Generator directly or through the control panel by using the following steps:

  1. Log in to the Cloud Control Panel and select Rackspace Cloud from the drop-down product menu in the top nagivation bar.
  2. In the top navigation bar, click Servers > Cloud Servers.
  3. Click the name of the server for which you want to generate a CSR.
  4. In the left-hand Managing Your Server section under Help me with, click Generate a CSR.

The generator lists your existing CSRs, if you have any, organized by domain name.

Generate a CSR

  1. Click Create CSR.

  2. Enter the following information, which will be associated with the CSR:

    Field Explanation Example
    Domain Name The fully qualified domain name to which the certificate applies. The domain names example.com and www.example.com are distinct from each other, so be sure to submit your request for the right domain. If you want to secure both domains, you can use the Alt Names field. If you are purchasing a wildcard certificate, use *.example.com. example.com
    Alt Names (Optional) Additional domains that you want to add to the request. Each CA treats these differently, and the CA might charge for additional names. You can submit a comma-separated list. www.example.com, secure.example.com
    Email Address (Optional) A contact email address for the certificate. support@example.com
    Organization Name The exact legal name of your organization. The CA might seek to confirm that your organization is real and legally registered, so don’t abbreviate words that aren’t abbreviated in the organization’s legal name. Example Inc.
    Organizational Unit (Optional) The branch of your organization that is making the request. Marketing
    City The city where your organization is legally located. Do not abbreviate the city name. San Antonio
    State or Province The state or province where your organization is legally located. Do not abbreviate the state or province name. Texas
    Country Choose your country from the drop-down menu. The two-letter ISO abbreviation for your country is included in the CSR. United States
    Private Key Bit Length Key sizes smaller than 2048 are considered insecure and might not be accepted by a CA. 1024,2048,4096
    Hashing Algorithm Both algorithms are currently trusted in mainstream browsers and offer industry recommended security. SHA-512 requires additional CPU processing. SHA-256, SHA-512

    Note: You cannot use the following characters in the Organization Name or Organizational Unit fields: < > ~ ! @ # $ % ^ * / \ ( ) ? . , &

  3. After you have entered all the required information, click Create CSR.

It can take between 5 and 60 seconds for the CSR to be generated. You might need to refresh the page that displays your CSRs before the new CSR is listed.

View CSR details

When CSR has been generated, you can click its UUID (unique identifier) in the CSR list to view its details screen.

This screen displays the information that you provided, the text of the CSR, and its associated private key.

Submit the CSR to the CA

The text in the Certificate Request field is the CSR. It contains encoded details of the CSR and your public key.

To request your SSL certificate, copy the Certificate Request text and submit it to your CA. Include all the text, including the BEGIN and END lines at the beginning and end of the text block.

Install the private key

Copy the private key to the server that will host the certificate. See your application documentation to determine where to install the private key and certificate on your server.

MyRackspace portal

If you are a Managed or Dedicated customer, you can request a CSR through the MyRackspace portal by using the following steps:

  1. Log in to the MyRackspace portal and select Dedicated Hosting from the drop-down product menu in the top navigation bar.
  2. In the top navigation bar, click Tickets > Create Ticket.
  3. On the Tickets / Create New Ticket page, select Generate Certificate Signing Request (CSR) from the Subject drop-down list.
  4. Enter the following information in the Ticket Details section:

    Field Explanation Example
    Device(s) The server or servers for which you want to generate a CSR. Use the drop-down menu to select your servers.  
    Common Name The fully qualified domain name to which the certificate applies. The domain names example.com and www.example.com are distinct from each other, so be sure to submit your request for the right domain. If you want to secure both domains, you can use the Alt Names field. If you are purchasing a wildcard certificate, use *.example.com. example.com
    Alt. Names (Optional) Additional domains that you want to add to the request. Each CA treats these differently, and the CA might charge for additional names. You can submit a comma-separated list. www.example.com, secure.example.com
    Email Address (Optional) A contact email address for the certificate. support@example.com
    Organization The exact legal name of your organization. The CA might seek to confirm that your organization is real and legally registered, so don’t abbreviate words that aren’t abbreviated in the organization’s legal name. Example Inc.
    Organizational Unit (Optional) The branch of your organization that is making the request. Marketing
    Locality (City) The city where your organization is legally located. Do not abbreviate the city name. San Antonio
    State or Province Name The state or province where your organization is legally located. Do not abbreviate the state or province name. Texas
    Country Choose your country from the drop-down menu. The two-letter ISO abbreviation for your country is included in the CSR. United States

    Note: The bit length is automatically set to 2048.

  5. Click Create Ticket.

Next steps

Reference

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