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OpenSSL is an open-source implementation of the SSL and TLS protocols, designed to be as flexible as possible. It is supported on a variety of platforms, including BSD, Linux, OpenVMS, Solaris and Windows.


openssl is installed by default on Arch Linux (as a dependency of coreutils).

There are various OpenSSL library bindings available for developers:


On Arch Linux the OPENSSLDIR is /etc/ssl.

The OpenSSL configuration file, conventionally placed in /etc/ssl/openssl.cnf, may appear complicated at first. Remember that variables may be expanded in assignments, much like how shell scripts work. For a thorough explanation of the configuration file format, see config(5ssl).

req section

This article or section is a candidate for merging with #Generate a certificate signing request.

Notes: Same topic. (Discuss in Talk:OpenSSL#Plan)

Settings related to generating keys, requests and self-signed certificates.

The req section is responsible for the DN prompts. A general misconception is the Common Name (CN) prompt, which suggests that it should have the user's proper name as a value. End-user certificates need to have the machine hostname as CN, whereas CA should not have a valid TLD, so that there is no chance that, between the possible combinations of certified end-users' CN and the CA certificate's, there is a match that could be misinterpreted by some software as meaning that the end-user certificate is self-signed. Some CA certificates do not even have a CN, such as Equifax:

$ openssl x509 -subject -noout < /etc/ssl/certs/Equifax_Secure_CA.pem
subject= /C=US/O=Equifax/OU=Equifax Secure Certificate Authority


This sections assumes you have read Transport Layer Security#Obtaining a certificate.

Generate a Curve25519 private key

$ openssl genpkey -algorithm x25519 -out filename

Generate an ECDSA private key

$ openssl genpkey -algorithm EC -pkeyopt ec_paramgen_curve:P-256 -out filename

Generate an RSA private key

With genpkey(1ssl), which supersedes genrsa according to openssl(1ssl):

$ openssl genpkey -algorithm RSA -pkeyopt rsa_keygen_bits:keysize -out filename

If an encrypted key is desired, use the -aes-256-cbc option.

Generate a certificate signing request

Use req(1ssl):

$ openssl req -new -sha256 -key private_key -out filename

Show a certificate signing request

Certificate signing requests are stored in an encoded format. To view the request in human readable format:

$ openssl req -noout -text -in filename

Generate a self-signed certificate

This article or section needs expansion.

Reason: This produces a certificate for the (root) Certificate Authority, which you are acting as. Most web browsers do not seem to accept CA certificates, deeming it necessary to request another certificate and sign it with the CA cert and CA key. The "Generate a certificate issued by own CA" procedure in this forum post is what seems to satisfy browsers. (Discuss in Talk:OpenSSL)
$ openssl req -key private_key -x509 -new -days days -out filename

Generate a self-signed certificate with private key in a single command

You can combine the above command in OpenSSL into a single command which might be convenient in some cases:

$ openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:4096 -days days -keyout key_filename -out cert_filename

Sign a certificate signing request with a CA certificate

$ openssl x509 -req -in cert_req_filename -days days -CA CA_cert -CAkey CA_cert_private_key -CAserial CA_cert_serial_file -out cert_out

Generate Diffie–Hellman parameters

See Diffie–Hellman key exchange for more information.

Current best practice is to use one of the standard DH groups from RFC:7919, eg. ffdhe2048.

Alternatively you can generate a random group of your own:

$ openssl dhparam -out filename 2048
Tip: To speed up generating, especially when not on high-end hardware, add the -dsaparam option [1].

Show certificate information

$ openssl x509 -text -in cert_filename

Show certificate fingerprint

$ openssl x509 -noout -in cert_filename -fingerprint -digest

-digest is optional and one of -md5, -sha1, -sha256, or -sha512. See "-digest" in x509(1ssl) § Input, Output, and General Purpose Options for when the digest is unspecified.

Convert certificate format

Use openssl x509 to convert certificates from binary (DER) format to PEM format (the text format with BEGIN CERTIFICATE headers):

$ openssl x509 -inform DER -in myCA.crt -out myCA_pem.crt

Use third-party providers

OpenSSL 3 introduced providers as a new concept for OpenSSL plugability. It is possible to use algorithms not included in OpenSSL without having to recompile it. For example, to test the NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography algorithms, you can install the Open Quantum Safe provider oqsproviderAUR. As an example, you can generate a quantum-safe self-signed certificate with private key using one of the variants of ML-DSA (formerly CRYSTALS-Dilithium):

$ openssl req -provider default -provider oqsprovider -x509 -newkey mldsa65 -days days -keyout key -out cert


"bad decrypt" while decrypting

OpenSSL 1.1.0 changed the default digest algorithm for the dgst and enc commands from MD5 to SHA256. [2]

Therefore if a file has been encrypted using OpenSSL 1.0.2 or older, trying to decrypt it with an up to date version may result in an error like:

error:06065064:digital envelope routines:EVP_DecryptFinal_ex:bad decrypt:crypto/evp/evp_enc.c:540

Supplying the -md md5 option should solve the issue:

$ openssl enc -d -md md5 -in encrypted -out decrypted

Python 3.10 and "ca md too weak" errors

In Python 3.10 by default there is a hardcoded list of allowed OpenSSL ciphers. Some of the less secure, like MD5, have been disabled at the ssl module level, ignoring the system-wide configuration of OpenSSL. It results sometimes in strange errors on older certificates, sometimes even when establishing https connections, like:

requests.exceptions.SSLError: HTTPSConnectionPool(host='', port=443): Max retries exceeded with url: / (Caused by SSLError(SSLError(398, '[SSL: CA_MD_TOO_WEAK] ca md too weak (_ssl.c:3862)')))

To make Python follow the system configuration, you may have to rebuild it, adding --with-ssl-default-suites=openssl parameter to ./configure. The issue has been also reported as FS#73549.

Error setting cipher XXX

If you try to use a "retired" cipher, you'll get an error of this type:

$ openssl bf -d -in cipher_file -K passphrase
Error setting cipher BF-CBC
4087A97A8A7F0000:error:0308010C:digital envelope routines:inner_evp_generic_fetch:unsupported:crypto/evp/evp_fetch.c:341:Global default library context, Algorithm (BF-CBC : 12)

Since OpenSSL 3.0, crypto algorithms are supplied through "providers". Oldest or least used algorithms belong to the legacy provider. [3]

If you need to use retired algorithms like DES, RC4, Blowfish, etc., you must add the option -provider legacy in your command line.

Here is a complete example for decoding a Blowfish cipher.

$ openssl bf -d -in cipher_file -provider legacy -provider default -K passphrase

See also