Move certificate management in tripleo-heat-templates

Launchpad blueprint:

Problem Description

There are multiple issues with the current way certificates are managed with Puppet and Certmonger, especially in a containerized environment:

  • Multiple containers are using the same certificate

  • There isn’t any easy way to find out which container needs to be restarted upon certificate renewal

  • Shared certificates are bad

The main issue now is the use of “pkill”, especially for httpd services. Since Certmonger has no knowledge of what container has an httpd service running, it uses a wide fly swatter in the hope all related services will effectively be reloaded with the new certificate.

The usage of “pkill” by Certmonger is prevented on a SELinux enforcing host.

Proposed Change


While the use of certmonger isn’t in question, the way we’re using it is.

The goal of this document is to describe how we could change that usage, allowing to provide a better security, while allowing Certmonger to restart only the needed containers in an easy fashion.

Implement certmonger in Ansible

A first step will be to implement a certmonger “thing” in Ansible. There are two ways to do that:

  • Reusable role

  • Native Ansible module

While the first one is faster to implement, the second would be better, since it will allow to provide a clean way to manage the certificates.

Move certificate management to tripleo-heat-templates

Once we have a way to manage Certmonger within Ansible, we will be able to move calls directly in relevant tripleo-heat-templates files, allowing to generate per-container certificate.

Doing so will also allow Certmonger to know exactly which container to restart upon certificate renewal, using a simple “container_cli kill” command.


One alternative is proposed

Maintain a list

We could maintain the code as-is, and just add a list for the containers needing a restart/reload. Certmonger would loop on that list, and do its job upon certificate renewal.

This isn’t a good solution, since the list will eventually lack updates, and this will create new issues instead of solving the current ones.

Also, it doesn’t allow to get per-container certificate, which is bad.

Proposed roadmap

In Stein:

  • Create “tripleo-certmonger” Ansible reusable role in tripleo-common

In Train:

  • Move certificate management/generation within tripleo-heat-templates.

  • Evaluate the benefices of moving to a proper Ansible module for Certmonger.

  • If evaluation is good and we have time, implement it and update current code.

In “U” release:

  • Check if anything relies on puppet-certmonger, and if not, drop this module.

Security Impact

We will provide a better security level by avoiding shared x509 keypairs.

Upgrade Impact

Every container using the shared certificate will be restarted in order to load the new, dedicated one.

We will have to ensure the nova metadata are properly updated in order to let novajoin create the services in FreeIPA, allowing to request per-service certificates.

Tests should also be made regarding novajoin update/upgrade in order to ensure all is working as expected.

If the containers are already using dedicated certificates, no other impact is expected.

End User Impact

During the upgrade, a standard short downtime is to be expected, unless the deployment is done using HA.

Performance Impact

No major performance impact is expected.

Deployer Impact

No major deployer impact is expected.

Developer Impact

People adding new services requiring a certificate will need to call the Certmonger module/role in the new tripleo-heat-templates file.

They will also need to ensure new metadata is properly generated in order to let novajoin create the related service in FreeIPA.



  • Cédric Jeanneret

  • Grzegorz Grasza

  • Nathan Kinder

Work Items

  • Implement reusable role for Certmonger

  • Move certificate management to tripleo-heat-templates

  • Remove certmonger parts from Puppet

  • Update/create needed documentations about the certificate management

Later: * Implement a proper Ansible Module * Update the role in order to wrap module calls


None - currently, no Certmonger module for Ansible exists.


We have to ensure the dedicated certificate is generated with the right content, and ensure it’s served by the right container.

We can do that using openssl CLI, maybe adding a new check in the CI via a new role in tripleo-quickstart-extras.

This is also deeply linked to novajoin, thus we have to ensure it works as expected.

Documentation Impact

We will need to document how the certificate are managed.