Red Hat Middleware

When deploying Red Hat Single Sign-On/Keycloak for a test or a proof of concept, most users will choose to use a self-signed certificate as explained in the official documentation.

The setup instructions are straightforward, but this self-signed certificate will trigger certificate error messages in your web browser and can also prevent some clients such as Postman from working properly.

This article explains how to use a public certificate from Let's Encrypt with Red Hat Single Sign-On.

Are you using a public certificate?

A simple and effective way to know if you are using a public certificate is to use curl.

$ curl https://sso.example.test/auth/realms/master
curl: (60) SSL certificate problem: self signed certificate in certificate chain
More details here:

curl performs SSL certificate verification by default, using a "bundle"
 of Certificate Authority (CA) public keys (CA certs). If the default
 bundle file isn't adequate, you can specify an alternate file
 using the --cacert option.
If this HTTPS server uses a certificate signed by a CA represented in
 the bundle, the certificate verification probably failed due to a
 problem with the certificate (it might be expired, or the name might
 not match the domain name in the URL).
If you'd like to turn off curl's verification of the certificate, use
 the -k (or --insecure) option.
HTTPS-proxy has similar options --proxy-cacert and --proxy-insecure.

If you get this output from curl, you are using a self-signed certificate that will cause you headaches later.

Continue reading to learn how to fix this!


During the rest of this article, we will focus on a Red Hat Single Sign-On 7.2 installation on OpenShift.

I assume Red Hat Single Sign-On has been installed, as explained in the official documentation using one of the "sso72-x509-*" templates.

First, move to the project in which you installed Red Hat Single Sign-On:

$ oc project sso

We will retrieve a public certificate using Let's Encrypt as a certificate authority, and Lego is a client that can speak with Let's Encrypt. It has several advantages such as ease of use and it's packaged as a container image.

Install Lego in the current project:

$ oc new-app --name lego xenolf/lego:latest
$ oc patch dc lego --type=json -p '[{"op": "add", "path": "/spec/template/spec/containers/0/command", "value": ["/bin/sh", "-c", "while :; do sleep 1; done" ]}]'
$ oc expose dc/lego --port=8080

To get a public certificate for your Red Hat Single Sign-On instance, we need to find the hostname of that instance. The hostname is a property of the OpenShift route that has been created as part of the Red Hat Single Sign-On installation.

Query the hostname of your Red Hat Single Sign-On route and save it for later use:

$ hostname=$(oc get route sso -o jsonpath='{}')

This route to your Red Hat Single Sign-On instance needs to be replaced by a temporary route to Lego so that Let's Encrypt can perform the HTTP challenge. The easiest way to do this is to delete your existing route and create a new one with the same hostname:

$ oc delete route sso
$ oc expose service lego --hostname="$hostname" --name=sso

You can now trigger the certificate request from the running Lego pod:

$ pod=$(oc get pods -o name -l app=lego |head -n1)
$ oc rsh $pod lego --path /tmp/.lego --http --http.port :8080 -d "$hostname" -m your@email.address --accept-tos run

The first command gets the name of the pod running Lego and sets a shell variable accordingly. The second command runs the lego command from the Lego container. This command has several switches:

  • --path /tmp/.lego will store the generated certificates in /tmp.
  • --http.port :8080 asks Lego to listen on port 8080 to receive the ACME HTTP challenge.
  • --http enables the HTTP challenge.
  • -d "$hostname" sets the hostname of our Red Hat Single Sign-On instance in the certificate request.
  • -m your@email.address sets the email address to receive renewal notifications (do not forget to set yours!).
  • --accept-tos means you read and accepted the Let's Encrypt Terms of Service.
  • run triggers the certificate request.

If you did everything correctly, you should see something like this:

2019/01/22 12:03:55 [INFO] [hostname] acme: Obtaining bundled SAN certificate
2019/01/22 12:03:56 [INFO] [hostname] AuthURL:[redacted]
2019/01/22 12:03:56 [INFO] [hostname] acme: Could not find solver for: tls-alpn-01
2019/01/22 12:03:56 [INFO] [hostname] acme: Trying to solve HTTP-01
2019/01/22 12:03:56 [INFO] [hostname] Served key authentication
2019/01/22 12:04:01 [INFO] [hostname] The server validated our request
2019/01/22 12:04:01 accept tcp [::]:8080: use of closed network connection
2019/01/22 12:04:01 [INFO] [hostname] acme: Validations succeeded; requesting certificates
2019/01/22 12:04:03 [INFO] [hostname] Server responded with a certificate.

Congratulations; you just issued your first public certificate!

Retrieve the freshly issued certificate from the Lego container and store it somewhere safe:

$ oc rsync $pod:/tmp/.lego ~/

You should now have the certificate stored in your home folder on your workstation.

$ find ~/.lego/certificates

You can now delete the temporary route and replace it with a new to route to the Red Hat Single Sign-On pod.

$ oc delete route sso
$ oc create -f - <<EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: Route
  name: sso
  host: $hostname
    kind: Service
    name: sso
    termination: edge
    key: |-
$(sed 's/^/      /' ~/.lego/certificates/$hostname.key)
    certificate: |-
$(sed 's/^/      /' ~/.lego/certificates/$hostname.crt)
    caCertificate: |-
$(sed 's/^/      /' ~/.lego/certificates/$hostname.issuer.crt)

Confirm that your Red Hat Single Sign-On instance is now using a public certificate by running again the curl command:

$ curl https://$hostname/auth/realms/master

Lego does not need to run continuously, so between certificate renewals (every 90 days), you can scale it down:

$ oc scale dc/lego --replicas=0


Self-signed certificates are always a headache when delivering a proof of concept or a workshop. This article presented a very practical way to get a valid public certificate for your Red Hat Single Sign-On instance.

Some aspects would need improvements to be used for longer periods or in production environments. For instance, we would need to use the proper Kubernetes concepts, Cron to run Lego, handle the certificate renewal, and use the DNS validation challenge (which requires a more complex setup but does not involve deleting the sso route).

Also, this article is about getting public certificates for your Red Hat Single Sign-On instance that is publicly deployed on the Internet. If your instance is deployed on your laptop for development purposes, the mkcertproject can help you generate proper certificates and make them trusted in your web browser.

Nevertheless, I hope this article will give you ideas and entice you to use public certificates for your Red Hat Single Sign-On setups.

Another article that might be of interest is "Single Sign-On Made Easy with Keycloak/Red Hat SSO."

Last updated: February 11, 2024