Import private key and certificate into Java Key Store (JKS)

Apache Tomcat and many other Java applications expect to retrieve SSL/TLS certificates from a Java Key Store (JKS). Jave Virtual Machines usually come with keytool  to help you create a new key store.

Keytool helps you to:

  • create a new JKS with a new private key
  • generate a Certificate Signung Request (CSR) for the private key in this JKS
  • import a certificate that you received for this CSR into your JKS

Keytool does not let you import an existing private key for which you already have a certificate. So you need to do this yourself, here's how:

Let's assume you have a private key (key.pem) and a certificate (cert.pem), both in PEM format as the file names suggest.

PEM format is 'kind-of-human-readable' and looks like e.g.

. (snip)

Convert both, the key and the certificate into DER format using openssl :

openssl pkcs8 -topk8 -nocrypt -in key.pem -inform PEM -out key.der -outform DER
openssl x509 -in cert.pem -inform PEM -out cert.der -outform DER

Now comes the tricky bit, you need something to import these files into the JKS. ImportKey will do this for you, get the (text/x-java-source, 6.6 kB, info) source or the compiled (Java 1.5 !) ImportKey.class (application/octet-stream, 3.3 kB, info) and run it like

user@host:~$ java ImportKey key.der cert.der
Using keystore-file : /home/user/keystore.ImportKey
One certificate, no chain.
Key and certificate stored.
Alias:importkey  Password:importkey

Now we have a proper JKS containing our private key and certificate in a file called keystore.ImportKey, using 'importkey' as alias and also as password. For any further changes, like changing the password we can use keytool.

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