Manage own CA with Debian

Self signed SSL certificates are nice, but only provide encryption of retrieved data. Nobody knows who is really sending the data.

If one buys an SSL certificate for a website, the browser doesn’t complain as much as with a self signed certificate. But can you really trust the other side? Almost every commercial CA has some kind of “fast validation” or “domain validation, issued in minutes”, which is done by email or phone. So if required, within minutes everybody might become you. Even with putting money on the table your users can not be sure whether this server really belongs to the right guy.

Well, why wasting time and money? Just create your own Root CA and tell users that they need to add something in order to avoid some error messages. In Debian we basically have five packages who claim to be able to manage some kind of CA.

easy-rsa is mainly needed to manage certificates used by openVPN. Within this use case it works like a charm, but I don’t want to manage a more complex CA with it.

gnomint is dead upstream and only uses SHA1 as signature algorithm. This will cause lots of problems as Mircrosoft and Google want to deprecate SHA1 in their products by 2017. Besides, this package is already orphaned and maybe it can disappear now.

tinyCA uses more signature algorithms, unfortunately SHA1 seems to be the “best” it can. There are some patches to support up to SHA512, but they don’t work for all parts of the software yet. For example Sub-CAs still use SHA1 despite of choosing something different in the GUI. So nice, but not (yet) usable in Jessie.

FreeIPA seems to be great, but didn’t make it into Jessie in time. Unfortunately the Release Team has reasons to not unblock it. So nice, but not usable in Jessie.

xca is based on QT4. As announced in the 15th DPN of 2014 the deprecated QT4 will be removed from Debian Stretch (= Jessie+1). Apart from this, the software meets all my requirements.