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1. Purpose/Scope of this Guide

The purpose of this guide is to assist RedHat Linux users with the installation of server (SSL) certificates using the Apache web server. The goal is to provide a clear procedure that will save time and, in many cases, money!

First, I will cover what you need to know about the SSL protocol and digital certificates. In my experience, building an Apache web server with ModSSL and OpenSSL is the most beneficial software combination. OpenSSL is a general-purpose cryptography library that supports the SSL v2/v3 and TLS v1 protocols. ModSSL is an Apache API module designed to act as an interface between Apache and OpenSSL. The biggest advantage is that all three packages are free.

Then, beginning with Section 4, I will go through the step-by-step procedures for generating keys and installing certificates on a RedHat-Apache server compiled with ModSSL and OpenSSL. The procedures in Section 4 will also work with commercial SSL-server packages such as Stronghold and Raven that are closely related to Apache.

Disclaimer: I am a technical support engineer for Equifax Secure Inc., a Certificate Authority. Therefore, I use Equifax Secure certificates and examples geared towards installing Equifax Secure certificates. However, the instructions will also work with certificates issued by other Certificate Authorities. Since this document was written at my own initiative, Equifax Secure Inc. is neither liable nor accountable for any consequences resulting from the use of these procedures.

My comments to the reader is in this style (emphasized).

Example lines are in plain roman style.

Note that extra comments and advice is found in comments within the SGML source.

1.1 About Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

SSL is a presentation layer service, located between the TCP and the application layer. It is platform and application independent. SSL is responsible for the management of a secure communications channel between the client and server. SSL provides a strong mechanism for encrypting data transferred between a client and a server.

1.2 FeedBack

Comments on this guide may be directed to the author (

1.3 Copyrights and Trademarks

Copyright (c) 2001 by Richard L. Sigle

Please freely copy and distribute this document in any format. It's requested that corrections and/or comments be forwarded to the document maintainer. You may create a derivative work and distribute it provided that you:

If you're considering making a derived work other than a translation, it's requested that you discuss your plans with the current maintainer.

1.4 Acknowledgements and Thanks

I would like to thank Tony Villasenor for tirelessly reading my drafts and offering his input and advice. Without Tony, this document would never have been finished.

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