What is recommended: Use UCS CA to manage client certificates, or setup a separated PKI?


I would like to setup own PKI to manage internal certificates. Since I already use UCS which has its own CA, I wonder what would be recommended between the following options:

(1) use UCS CA to create the certificates as per https://docs.software-univention.de/domain-4.4.html#extdom:ssl:manage. This works very well if one needs only to issue a few certs for some non-UCS servers. However it supports only ssl certs for server. I would like to be able to create client cert for openvpn, and this seems unsupported. I looked into the scripts /usr/sbin/univention-certificate and /usr/share/univention-ssl/make-certificates.sh, and I think I might be able use openssl directly to generate the CSR for openvpn clients and sign them with UCS CA. However there are some potential problems with this approach:

  • it can break UCS (just a worry, I am not that experienced with openssl and UCS)
  • it will put a lot of certs into the UCS CA db (under /etc/univention/ssl), since I want to create for each openvpn user a separate cert

What I like about this approach is that I have a single CA in UCS,

(2) setup another PKI, completely separated from UCS CA, following for example this guide: https://pki-tutorial.readthedocs.io/. This is probably easier and safer. The downside is that now I have 2 root CA, which feels odd.

What would you recommend?


I think another option would be this:

  • create a signing CA, sign its cert with UCS CA
  • use this signing CA to issue non-UCS certs

This way I still have a single root CA (UCS CA), but can manage non-UCS certs using only the signing CA, hence reduce the chance of conflicts.

Would this option be a reasonable choice?

maybe that helps:


thank you, that’s a lot of useful information, very much appreciated.

I took a close look; unfortunately for me the openvpn client certs are not ip-managed; they are bound to username.

I also tried to setup an intermediate CA, sign it with UCS CA and use the intermediate CA to issue internal certs. I could issue a server cert, got it up and running, now going to issue the openvpn client cert. However a small issue is that I must include the intermediate cert in every leaf cert.

I am still evaluating the options and hope to hear further opinions/recommendations from UCS admins.


Hi Tony2,

Have you already figured out how to issue client certs for non-ip-managed-clients from the univention ca?


I ended up with this approach:

  • copy the root CA from UCS to a safe server
  • use that root CA to create intermediate and leaf certs as I need. I use the tools from smallstep https://github.com/smallstep/cli, much easier to use than openssl.

This way I have a single CA (generated by UCS) but can create the certs I need in a convenient way.