How To Generate SSL Key, CSR and Self Signed Certificate For Apache

If you want to convert your website from HTTP to HTTPS, you need to get a SSL certificate from a valid organization like Verisign or Thawte. You can also generate self signed SSL certificate for testing purpose.

In this article, let us review how to generate private key file (server.key), certificate signing request file (server.csr) and webserver certificate file (server.crt) that can be used on Apache server with mod_ssl.

Key, CSR and CRT File Naming Convention

I typically like to name the files with the domain name of the HTTPS URL that will be using this certificate. This makes it easier to identify and maintain.

  • Instead of server.key, I use
  • Instead of server.csr, I use
  • Instead of server.crt, I use

1. Generate Private Key on the Server Running Apache + mod_ssl

First, generate a private key on the Linux server that runs Apache webserver using openssl command as shown below.

The generated private key looks like the following.

2. Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR)

Using the key generate above, you should generate a certificate request file (csr) using openssl as shown below.


Generate a Self-Signed SSL Certificate

For testing purpose, you can generate a self-signed SSL certificate that is valid for 1 year using openssl command as shown below.

You can use this method to generate Apache SSL Key, CSR and CRT file in most of the Linux, Unix systems including Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Fedora and Red Hat.

4. Get a Valid Trial SSL Certificate (Optional)

Instead of signing it youself, you can also generate a valid trial SSL certificate from thawte. i.e Before spending the money on purchasing a certificate, you can also get a valid fully functional 21 day trial SSL certificates from Thawte. Once this valid certificate works, you can either decide to purchase it from Thawte or any other SSL signing organization.

  • Select “SSL Web Server Certificate (All servers)” under the “select your trial certificate”.
  • Do not check the PKCS #7 check-box under the “configure certificate”
  • Copy/Paste the *.csr file that you generate above in the textbox under “certificate signing request (CSR)”
  • Click on next at the bottom, which will give you a 21-day free trial certificate.

Copy/Paste the trial certificate to the file as shown below.


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