Grid certificates

Grid certificates

FGCI, like most of the middleware based grid environments, uses personal X.509 certificates for user authentication. In this approach the users doesn't need a personal user accounts in the cluster they are using. This means also that CSC user account is not necessary for FGCI usage.

Certificate requests need to be signed by a Certification Authority (CA) which acts as a trusted third party. CSC is using GÉANT Trusted Certificate Service (TCS) as the authority to provide Finnish academic grid users with personal e-science grid user certificates. The certificates will be requested through the DigiCert SSO portal, which automatically installs in the certificate to users web browser. The certificates are valid for one year at a time.

The user logs on to the DigiCert SSO portal using their HAKA credentials (username and password in most cases). To be able to log in, your Identity Provider ( i.e. home university or institute) most must be compatible with eduGAIN service. If the name of your home institute is not recognized by the DigiCert SSO portal (Finnish, Swedish and English institute names should be recognized) that means that your home institute is not compatible with the eduGAIN service. In this case you can still request a personal certificate from Nordugrid: Personal Nordugrid certificate.

Obtaining a grid certificate from GEANT

Please ONLY use your personal computer for obtaining your grid certificate as your grid certificate will be stored into the browser you are using for obtaining the certificate. Chrome is not compatible with the Digicert service so you should use Firefox or Explorer to get a certificate.Here are the step-by-step instructions for obtaining your own certificate:

  1. Go to

  2. Enter the name of your home institute (Finnish, Swedish and English institute names are recognized) and press "Start single sign-on"

  3. Login using your HAKA username and password (a HAKA account is created by your home organization, not by CSC. Typically this is the user account you use to log in to local university network)

  4. In the "Request Product" page, choose product: Grid Premium, check your information and press "Request Certificate"

Now you have your certificate in the keystore of your browser, signed by DigiCert and ready for use.

Exporting the certificate from the browser

After obtaining the certificate from TERENA, the certificate is initially stored only in the certificate repository of the web browser that was used for the certificate generation process. To use your certificate for grid jobs you need to export your certificate to a certificate file. The location of the certificate repository and commands that export the certificate to a file vary between browsers (even between different versions of the same browser). Your browser may contain several certificates, many of which are used to verify other web service providers. Normally you can recognize your personal TERENA certificate based on the certificate name that should contain your name or e-mail address.

Below are instructions for exporting the certificate from a few commonly used browsers.


  1. Select: Edit -> Preferences (in Linux) or Tools -> Options (in Windows) or Firefox -> Preferences ( In Mac)

  2. Go to Advanced -> Encryption -> View Certificates

  3. Select your certificate and click Backup

  4. Save the certificate as "usercert.p12". The browser will ask you for your password, along with an export password. You MUST have a password here, you may not backup the certificate without a password!


  1. Select Menu -> Settings -> Preferences

  2. Go to Advanced -> Security -> Manage Certificates

  3. Select your certificate and click Export

  4. Choose the "PKCS #12 (with private key)" file type, and save the certificate as "usercert.p12". The browser will ask you for your password, along with an export password. You MUST have a password here, you may not export the certificate without a password!

Installing certificate

Browsers normally store the certificates using the PKCS12 format. However, for the ARC middleware uses PEM as the default certificate format. The following commands do PKCS12-PEM  conversion on Linux machines. If you will use the grid tools on a different machine than that which your browser is on, you can transfer the usercert.p12 file to that machine, and run the following commands there. It's suggested that you use a secure tool like scp to do this.

The PEM formatted certificate consists of two files: private key file (userkey.pem) and certificate file (usercert.pem). The certificate private key is created with the command:

openssl pkcs12 -nocerts -in usercert.p12 -out userkey.pem

When executed, this command will ask for the old and the new key passwords (they can be the same). The user certificate file is created with the command :

openssl pkcs12 -clcerts -nokeys -in usercert.p12 -out usercert.pem

The commands above should have created two files, usercert.pem and userkey.pem. To use the ARC middleware these two files should be moved into a .globus sub-directory under the user's home directory (note the dot as the first character of the directory name). If the .globus directory does not exist, it can be created with the command:

mkdir ~/.globus/

After this, the certificate files can be moved to the .globus directory with the commands:

cp usercert.pem ~/.globus/
cp userkey.pem ~/.globus/

Finally, make sure that the access permissions of the userkey.pem file are set up correctly. The command to ensure this is:

chmod 400 ~/.globus/userkey.pem