Getting a User Certificate via Web interface

Reviewed Passed
by MarcoMambelli
Test Passed
by JamesWeichel
by AlainDeximo

Please send feedback on the documentation or ask questions about the process to the Grid Operations Center.

About This Document

This document contains some general instructions on how a scientist can obtain an electronic credentials that allow the use of the Open Science Grid (OSG). Getting these credentials is part of the process of becoming a new grid user. The steps are:

  1. Getting what's called a certificate as described below in this document.
  2. Registering this certificate with a type of organization known as a VO that is authorized to use computers on the grid. This is explained further down in this document.

These instructions are mainly for users who do not have credentials. If you already have a certificate, you probably want to instead renew or replace it.


You first need to know the VO you should join. If you're not sure, this list may help, or please email the Grid Operations Center.

From your VO you should find out

  1. Whether to use these instructions or some VO specific ones instead;
  2. Who to use as your sponsor for the certificate;
  3. The URL for applying for VO membership, the sponsor to use, and what group, if any, to request; and
  4. What machine you can use to submit jobs to OSG. The VO may need to make you an account on that machine.

These instructions were written for Firefox although the basic steps are similar for other browsers.

Setting the Master Password (Optional)

To help protect the certificate, it's best to set Firefox's master password. First, go to the Security submenu under Options/Preferences, which is reachable under Tools -> Options for Windows, Firefox -> Preferences for Macs, and Edit -> Preferences for Linux. Then click on the "Use a master password" button and set a password when prompted. Screenshot Hide
The browser will later ask you for this password when you use your certificate.

There is more information about protecting grid credentials here.

Downloading Certifying Authority certificate files for OSG DigiCert-based certificates

Here you will find the location from which you can download the Digicert root and intermediate CA certs that are needed to be added to the OS X Keychain (for example) or to the trusted issuer stores in the various browsers.

The following is a sample of the page. The links circled in red are the files that are needed to be downloaded and imported.


Installing Certifying Authority certificates into a web browser

To import the CA certificates into your browser, download the Root, CA-1 and SHA-2 CA-1 PEM format files and then follow these instructions for each of them. These instructions are for Firefox but most browsers have something similar.

  1. Go to Preferences -> Advanced -> Certificates -> View Certificates -> Authorities:


  2. Click "Import" and select the certificate just downloaded.


  3. After you select the certificate, this window will be shown


    Click on the first two "Trust" boxes and click "OK" to save it.

Requesting a New User Certificate

  1. Start your browser and go to
  2. Select the appropriate VO from the drop down menu.


  3. After having read through the OSG Policy Agreement, check the "I AGREE" box and click on Submit.


VO Registration

In most cases, you will have to separately apply for VO membership. Depending on your VO, you will most likely use either a VOMRS server or a VOMS-Admin server. Both require that you have your certificate before applying.

Find out the URL of your VO's VOMRS or VOMS-Admin server either from your VO administrator, or the list at MyOSG.

Registration Using a VOMRS Server

  1. Go to the VOMRS URL. When the browser asks for a certificate, select the one we just got. The bottom left corner of the page should have some red text that says "You are logged in as ...", with your name after "CN=". Screenshot Hide
  2. Click on "Registration (Phase I)" in the left-hand menu bar, and follow the directions there. For "Application", write the program that you plan to use most often. You should probably contact the representative to let them know about this request.
  3. When you get an email from the server, click on the enclosed URL and then wait for the representative to approve you.

Verification Hide
To confirm this step, return to the VOMRS server, select your new certificate when prompted, and you should see a page like this:
The certificate information shown in red at the bottom of the page should correspond to the certificate that you registered. Also, the "[+] Member Info" line in the menu at the top left of the page should be present.
Next click on the "[+] Member Info" line, click on all the check boxes in the page that comes up, and click "Search". This should bring up all the information that the VO has about you.

Registration Using a VOMS-Admin Server

  1. Go to the voms-admin URL for your VO. Make sure that the DN listed is the one for the certificate that you just got, then fill out the form and click "register". If you should belong to a particular group, either send an email to the VO administrator or, if there is a comments box on the page, mention that there. Screenshot Hide
  2. Wait for the email from the VOMS-Admin server, and click on the URL in it to complete the request. Screenshot Hide
  3. Wait for an email triggered by a human, the VO administrator, saying that you are approved.

Verification Hide
To confirm this step, visit the VOMS-Admin server again and check that you get a page like this:

Exporting the Certificate to Disk

To export your certificate,

  1. Open the certificate manager: Options/Preferences -> Advanced -> Encryption -> View Certificates. Select the certificate that you would like to export, and press "Backup".
  2. When prompted, type in the name of the file to hold the new certificate. If you name it "usercred.p12" then grid programs can automatically recognize it.
  3. When prompted, set a password for the certificate. You'll need this to be able to use the certificate later.
  4. After pressing OK, you should see:

Transferring the Certificate to the Submit Host

You next need to transfer your certificate to the machine from which you'll be submitting jobs, the submit host.

  1. Find out from your VO the name of a submit host.
  2. One way to do the transfer is with the /scp/ program.
       $ scp -p usercred.p12 YOUR_USERNAME@SUBMIT_HOSTNAME:
       usercred.p12                                   100% 5084     5.0KB/s   00:00
    Here you should replace YOUR_USERNAME with your user id on the submit host, and SUBMIT_HOSTNAME with the name of the submit host. The "@" and ":" symbols are important. Another way to do the transfer is with a GUI scp/sftp client.
  3. Log into the remote host:
  4. Generate .pem files needed by globus
      openssl pkcs12 -in usercred.p12 -clcerts -nokeys -out $HOME/.globus/usercert.pem
      openssl pkcs12 -in usercred.p12 -nocerts -out $HOME/.globus/userkey.pem
  5. Make sure that the permissions are correct:
       $ chmod 400 usercred.p12
  6. Make a directory called ".globus", and move the certificate into that directory:
       $ mkdir .globus 
       $ mv usercred.p12 .globus/

Next Steps

The next steps are to run a test job, and then real jobs.

Topic revision: r49 - 02 Sep 2015 - 20:11:48 - DaveDykstra
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