Created 3 years ago
mod_nss is an SSL provider for Apache using the NSS crypto libraries
Rob Crittenden committed a year ago
This Apache module provides strong cryptography for the Apache 2.4 webserver
via the Secure Sockets Layer (v3) and Transport Layer Security (TLS
v1) protocols by the help of the SSL/TLS implementation library NSS
This module is based heavily on the mod_ssl package. In fact, it's more
a conversion than anything else.
To build this you'll need NSPR 4.9.+ and NSS 3.14.+. It may work with earlier
versions but these are recommended (or tested). These can be retrieved from
http://www.mozilla.org/. The --with-nspr and --with-nss tags require that
the package be installed in the same parent directory (e.g. /opt/nspr,
/usr/local/nspr, etc). It will look in this parent for include/, lib/, etc.
If --with-nss or --with-nspr are not passed configure will look for the
mozilla-[nss|nspr]-devel packages and use the libraries with that if found.
It is strongly recommended that the mozilla.org version be used instead.
Build and install those packages somewhere then configure the module with
% autoreconf -ivf
% ./configure --with-apxs[=/path/to/apxs/] --with-nspr=/path/to/nspr/ --with-nss=/path/to/nss/
% gmake all install
You only need to use =/path/to/apxs if apxs isn't in your path or if you
want to install into a specific Apache installation.
This will install a sample configuration file nss.conf. You'll need to do
some hand-editing as well to tell Apache to read this file.
To httpd.conf add (anywhere is fine):
You'll need to change the default ports in nss.conf from 443 to
something else if you aren't starting the server as root.
You'll need to create an NSS database and get a server certificate installed.
A script, gencerts, is included to help get things going with a self-signed
certificate. This is a *BAD* idea and you shouldn't use this. It is for
demonstration purposes only. As a matter of policy, users should not get
used to accepting a SSL certifiate signed by an unknown or untrusted
The result of the gencert script is an NSS database that contains a
self-signed CA, a server certificate (nickname Server-Cert) and a
client certificate (alpha). The client certificate is generated to make
testing client authentication simpler.
You can store the token passwords in a file so you aren't prompted during
startup (so you can do unattended starts, for example). To do this, set
the file that will store the token passwords in the NSSPassPhraseDialog
attribute in nss.conf ala:
The format of the file for a non-hardware token is tokenname:password.
A sample for the internal software token is like:
BUILT-IN ROOT CAs
NSS provides a list of built-in CA's (VeriSign, Thawte, etc). This takes the
form of a shared library, libnssckbi.so. If this library is placed in the
same directory as the certificate database then it will be loaded
automatically when the server starts.
See docs/mod_nss.html for additional information.
For NSS documentation, see http://www.mozilla.org/projects/security/pki/nss/
REQUESTING A CERTIFICATE
You can use the provided gencert utility as a template for generating a
CA and a sample user and server certificate. Alterntaively, the NSS
command-line tools may be used to generate a certificate request
suitable for submission to a local CA or a commerical CA like Verisign,
and install the issued certificate into your local database. A sample
request may look something like this. This assumes that your certificate
database directory (NSSCertificateDatabase) is set to /etc/httpd/alias
Step 1 Create the database. This assumes you want your certificate database
% cd /etc/httpd
% mkdir alias
% cd alias
% certutil -N -d .
Step 2 Generate a PKCS#10 certificate request
% certutil -R -d . -s "CN=test.example.com, O=Example, c=US" -o certreq.txt -a
The file certreq.txt contains an ASCII representation of the certificate
request and may be submitted to a CA for approval.
Step 3 The CA has issued your certificate. In this example, you have the
PKCS#7 (ASCII) copy in the file cert.txt. You have a copy of the CA
certificate chain in ca.txt.
% certutil -A -d . -n Server-Cert -t "u,u,u" -a < cert.txt
% certutil -A -d . -n "My CA" -t "CTu,CTu,CTu" -a < ca.txt
Step 4 Verify that the certificate and CA are installed correctly
% certutil -V -u V -d . -n Server-Cert
A few simple scripts are provided to stand up an in-tree Apache instance
against which some basic tests can be run to validate that the in-tree
The following dependencies are needed to run the tests:
From the source tree run:
% make check
The tests are run twice. Once with the old-style database and once
using the sqlite database format. See
This is controlled by the environment variable DBPREFIX which needs
to be set to sql: when using the newer format for the tests.
A test for the OpenSSL-compatibility is also executed. It tries to
compare the output of `openssl ciphers <string>` with the
equivalent from mod_nss. This may vary by release of OpenSSL and
what ciphers are available in NSS.
The test suite requires python >= 2.7.10 and
python-requests > 2.7.0.
There is a very small SNI suite included as well. To run it you
need to add www[1..25].example.com to your /etc/hosts pointing
to your IP address. Then run:
% make checksni