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modutil(1)                    NSS Security Tools                    modutil(1)


       modutil - Manage PKCS #11 module information within the security module


       modutil [options] [[arguments]]


       This documentation is still work in progress. Please contribute to the
       initial review in Mozilla NSS bug 836477[1]


       The Security Module Database Tool, modutil, is a command-line utility
       for managing PKCS #11 module information both within secmod.db files
       and within hardware tokens.  modutil can add and delete PKCS #11
       modules, change passwords on security databases, set defaults, list
       module contents, enable or disable slots, enable or disable FIPS 140-2
       compliance, and assign default providers for cryptographic operations.
       This tool can also create certificate, key, and module security
       database files.

       The tasks associated with security module database management are part
       of a process that typically also involves managing key databases and
       certificate databases.


       Running modutil always requires one (and only one) option to specify
       the type of module operation. Each option may take arguments, anywhere
       from none to multiple arguments.


       -add modulename
           Add the named PKCS #11 module to the database. Use this option with
           the -libfile, -ciphers, and -mechanisms arguments.

       -changepw tokenname
           Change the password on the named token. If the token has not been
           initialized, this option initializes the password. Use this option
           with the -pwfile and -newpwfile arguments. A password is equivalent
           to a personal identification number (PIN).

           Verify whether the module is in the given FIPS mode.  true means to
           verify that the module is in FIPS mode, while false means to verify
           that the module is not in FIPS mode.

           Create new certificate, key, and module databases. Use the -dbdir
           directory argument to specify a directory. If any of these
           databases already exist in a specified directory, modutil returns
           an error message.

       -default modulename
           Specify the security mechanisms for which the named module will be
           a default provider. The security mechanisms are specified with the
           -mechanisms argument.

       -delete modulename
           Delete the named module. The default NSS PKCS #11 module cannot be

       -disable modulename
           Disable all slots on the named module. Use the -slot argument to
           disable a specific slot.

           The internal NSS PKCS #11 module cannot be disabled.

       -enable modulename
           Enable all slots on the named module. Use the -slot argument to
           enable a specific slot.

       -fips [true | false]
           Enable (true) or disable (false) FIPS 140-2 compliance for the
           default NSS module.

           Disable modutil's interactive prompts so it can be run from a
           script. Use this option only after manually testing each planned
           operation to check for warnings and to ensure that bypassing the
           prompts will cause no security lapses or loss of database

       -jar JAR-file
           Add a new PKCS #11 module to the database using the named JAR file.
           Use this command with the -installdir and -tempdir arguments. The
           JAR file uses the NSS PKCS #11 JAR format to identify all the files
           to be installed, the module's name, the mechanism flags, and the
           cipher flags, as well as any files to be installed on the target
           machine, including the PKCS #11 module library file and other files
           such as documentation. This is covered in the JAR installation file
           section in the man page, which details the special script needed to
           perform an installation through a server or with modutil.

       -list [modulename]
           Display basic information about the contents of the secmod.db file.
           Specifying a modulename displays detailed information about a
           particular module and its slots and tokens.

           Add the module spec string to the secmod.db database.

           Display the module specs for a specified module or for all loadable

       -undefault modulename
           Specify the security mechanisms for which the named module will not
           be a default provider. The security mechanisms are specified with
           the -mechanisms argument.


           Give the security module to access.

           Give the security module spec to load into the security database.

       -ciphers cipher-enable-list
           Enable specific ciphers in a module that is being added to the
           database. The cipher-enable-list is a colon-delimited list of
           cipher names. Enclose this list in quotation marks if it contains

       -dbdir [sql:]directory
           Specify the database directory in which to access or create
           security module database files.

           modutil supports two types of databases: the legacy security
           databases (cert8.db, key3.db, and secmod.db) and new SQLite
           databases (cert9.db, key4.db, and pkcs11.txt). If the prefix sql:
           is not used, then the tool assumes that the given databases are in
           the old format.

       --dbprefix prefix
           Specify the prefix used on the database files, such as my_ for
           my_cert8.db. This option is provided as a special case. Changing
           the names of the certificate and key databases is not recommended.

       -installdir root-installation-directory
           Specify the root installation directory relative to which files
           will be installed by the -jar option. This directory should be one
           below which it is appropriate to store dynamic library files, such
           as a server's root directory.

       -libfile library-file
           Specify a path to a library file containing the implementation of
           the PKCS #11 interface module that is being added to the database.

       -mechanisms mechanism-list
           Specify the security mechanisms for which a particular module will
           be flagged as a default provider. The mechanism-list is a
           colon-delimited list of mechanism names. Enclose this list in
           quotation marks if it contains spaces.

           The module becomes a default provider for the listed mechanisms
           when those mechanisms are enabled. If more than one module claims
           to be a particular mechanism's default provider, that mechanism's
           default provider is undefined.

           modutil supports several mechanisms: RSA, DSA, RC2, RC4, RC5, AES,
           DES, DH, SHA1, SHA256, SHA512, SSL, TLS, MD5, MD2, RANDOM (for
           random number generation), and FRIENDLY (meaning certificates are
           publicly readable).

       -newpwfile new-password-file
           Specify a text file containing a token's new or replacement
           password so that a password can be entered automatically with the
           -changepw option.

           Do not open the certificate or key databases. This has several

           o   With the -create command, only a module security file is
               created; certificate and key databases are not created.

           o   With the -jar command, signatures on the JAR file are not

           o   With the -changepw command, the password on the NSS internal
               module cannot be set or changed, since this password is stored
               in the key database.

       -pwfile old-password-file
           Specify a text file containing a token's existing password so that
           a password can be entered automatically when the -changepw option
           is used to change passwords.

       -secmod secmodname
           Give the name of the security module database (like secmod.db) to

       -slot slotname
           Specify a particular slot to be enabled or disabled with the
           -enable or -disable options.

       -string CONFIG_STRING
           Pass a configuration string for the module being added to the

       -tempdir temporary-directory
           Give a directory location where temporary files are created during
           the installation by the -jar option. If no temporary directory is
           specified, the current directory is used.


       Creating Database Files

       Before any operations can be performed, there must be a set of security
       databases available.  modutil can be used to create these files. The
       only required argument is the database that where the databases will be

           modutil -create -dbdir [sql:]directory

       Adding a Cryptographic Module

       Adding a PKCS #11 module means submitting a supporting library file,
       enabling its ciphers, and setting default provider status for various
       security mechanisms. This can be done by supplying all of the
       information through modutil directly or by running a JAR file and
       install script. For the most basic case, simply upload the library:

           modutil -add modulename -libfile library-file [-ciphers cipher-enable-list] [-mechanisms mechanism-list]

       For example:

           modutil -dbdir sql:/home/my/sharednssdb -add "Example PKCS #11 Module" -libfile "/tmp/" -mechanisms RSA:DSA:RC2:RANDOM

           Using database directory ...
           Module "Example PKCS #11 Module" added to database.

       Installing a Cryptographic Module from a JAR File

       PKCS #11 modules can also be loaded using a JAR file, which contains
       all of the required libraries and an installation script that describes
       how to install the module. The JAR install script is described in more
       detail in the section called "JAR INSTALLATION FILE FORMAT".

       The JAR installation script defines the setup information for each
       platform that the module can be installed on. For example:

           Platforms {
              Linux:5.4.08:x86 {
                 ModuleName { "Example PKCS #11 Module" }
                 ModuleFile { }
                 Files {
                       Path{ /tmp/ }
                       Path{ /tmp/ }
              Linux:6.0.0:x86 {
                 EquivalentPlatform { Linux:5.4.08:x86 }

       Both the install script and the required libraries must be bundled in a
       JAR file, which is specified with the -jar argument.

           modutil -dbdir sql:/home/mt"jar-install-filey/sharednssdb -jar install.jar -installdir sql:/home/my/sharednssdb

           This installation JAR file was signed by:

           **SUBJECT NAME**

           C=US, ST=California, L=Mountain View, CN=Cryptorific Inc., OU=Digital ID
           Class 3 - Netscape Object Signing, OU="
           Incorp. by Ref.,LIAB.LTD(c)9 6", Ref
           . LIABILITY LTD.(c)97 VeriSign, OU=VeriSign Object Signing CA - Class 3
           Organization, OU="VeriSign, Inc.", O=VeriSign Trust Network **ISSUER
           NAME**, Ref. LIABILITY LTD.(c)97
           VeriSign, OU=VeriSign Object Signing CA - Class 3 Organization,
           OU="VeriSign, Inc.", O=VeriSign Trust Network

           Do you wish to continue this installation? (y/n) y
           Using installer script "installer_script"
           Successfully parsed installation script
           Current platform is Linux:5.4.08:x86
           Using installation parameters for platform Linux:5.4.08:x86
           Installed file to /tmp/
           Installed file to ./pk11inst.dir/
           Executing "./pk11inst.dir/"...
           "./pk11inst.dir/" executed successfully
           Installed module "Example PKCS #11 Module" into module database

           Installation completed successfully

       Adding Module Spec

       Each module has information stored in the security database about its
       configuration and parameters. These can be added or edited using the
       -rawadd command. For the current settings or to see the format of the
       module spec in the database, use the -rawlist option.

           modutil -rawadd modulespec

       Deleting a Module

       A specific PKCS #11 module can be deleted from the secmod.db database:

           modutil -delete modulename -dbdir [sql:]directory

       Displaying Module Information

       The secmod.db database contains information about the PKCS #11 modules
       that are available to an application or server to use. The list of all
       modules, information about specific modules, and database configuration
       specs for modules can all be viewed.

       To simply get a list of modules in the database, use the -list command.

           modutil -list [modulename] -dbdir [sql:]directory

       Listing the modules shows the module name, their status, and other
       associated security databases for certificates and keys. For example:

           modutil -list -dbdir sql:/home/my/sharednssdb

           Listing of PKCS #11 Modules
             1. NSS Internal PKCS #11 Module
                    slots: 2 slots attached
                   status: loaded

                    slot: NSS Internal Cryptographic Services
                   token: NSS Generic Crypto Services
                  uri: pkcs11:token=NSS%20Generic%20Crypto%20Services;manufacturer=Mozilla%20Foundation;serial=0000000000000000;model=NSS%203

                    slot: NSS User Private Key and Certificate Services
                   token: NSS Certificate DB
                  uri: pkcs11:token=NSS%20Certificate%20DB;manufacturer=Mozilla%20Foundation;serial=0000000000000000;model=NSS%203

       Passing a specific module name with the -list returns details
       information about the module itself, like supported cipher mechanisms,
       version numbers, serial numbers, and other information about the module
       and the token it is loaded on. For example:

            modutil -list "NSS Internal PKCS #11 Module" -dbdir sql:/home/my/sharednssdb

           Name: NSS Internal PKCS #11 Module
           Library file: **Internal ONLY module**
           Manufacturer: Mozilla Foundation
           Description: NSS Internal Crypto Services
           PKCS #11 Version 2.20
           Library Version: 3.11
           Cipher Enable Flags: None
           Default Mechanism Flags: RSA:RC2:RC4:DES:DH:SHA1:MD5:MD2:SSL:TLS:AES

             Slot: NSS Internal Cryptographic Services
             Slot Mechanism Flags: RSA:RC2:RC4:DES:DH:SHA1:MD5:MD2:SSL:TLS:AES
             Manufacturer: Mozilla Foundation
             Type: Software
             Version Number: 3.11
             Firmware Version: 0.0
             Status: Enabled
             Token Name: NSS Generic Crypto Services
             Token Manufacturer: Mozilla Foundation
             Token Model: NSS 3
             Token Serial Number: 0000000000000000
             Token Version: 4.0
             Token Firmware Version: 0.0
             Access: Write Protected
             Login Type: Public (no login required)
             User Pin: NOT Initialized

             Slot: NSS User Private Key and Certificate Services
             Slot Mechanism Flags: None
             Manufacturer: Mozilla Foundation
             Type: Software
             Version Number: 3.11
             Firmware Version: 0.0
             Status: Enabled
             Token Name: NSS Certificate DB
             Token Manufacturer: Mozilla Foundation
             Token Model: NSS 3
             Token Serial Number: 0000000000000000
             Token Version: 8.3
             Token Firmware Version: 0.0
             Access: NOT Write Protected
             Login Type: Login required
             User Pin: Initialized

       A related command, -rawlist returns information about the database
       configuration for the modules. (This information can be edited by
       loading new specs using the -rawadd command.)

            modutil -rawlist -dbdir sql:/home/my/sharednssdb
            name="NSS Internal PKCS #11 Module" parameters="configdir=. certPrefix= keyPrefix= secmod=secmod.db flags=readOnly " NSS="trustOrder=75 cipherOrder=100 slotParams={0x00000001=[slotFlags=RSA,RC4,RC2,DES,DH,SHA1,MD5,MD2,SSL,TLS,AES,RANDOM askpw=any timeout=30 ] }  Flags=internal,critical"

       Setting a Default Provider for Security Mechanisms

       Multiple security modules may provide support for the same security
       mechanisms. It is possible to set a specific security module as the
       default provider for a specific security mechanism (or, conversely, to
       prohibit a provider from supplying those mechanisms).

           modutil -default modulename -mechanisms mechanism-list

       To set a module as the default provider for mechanisms, use the
       -default command with a colon-separated list of mechanisms. The
       available mechanisms depend on the module; NSS supplies almost all
       common mechanisms. For example:

           modutil -default "NSS Internal PKCS #11 Module" -dbdir -mechanisms RSA:DSA:RC2

           Using database directory c:\databases...

           Successfully changed defaults.

       Clearing the default provider has the same format:

           modutil -undefault "NSS Internal PKCS #11 Module" -dbdir -mechanisms MD2:MD5

       Enabling and Disabling Modules and Slots

       Modules, and specific slots on modules, can be selectively enabled or
       disabled using modutil. Both commands have the same format:

           modutil -enable|-disable modulename [-slot slotname]

       For example:

           modutil -enable "NSS Internal PKCS #11 Module" -slot "NSS Internal Cryptographic Services                            " -dbdir .

           Slot "NSS Internal Cryptographic Services                            " enabled.

       Be sure that the appropriate amount of trailing whitespace is after the
       slot name. Some slot names have a significant amount of whitespace that
       must be included, or the operation will fail.

       Enabling and Verifying FIPS Compliance

       The NSS modules can have FIPS 140-2 compliance enabled or disabled
       using modutil with the -fips option. For example:

           modutil -fips true -dbdir sql:/home/my/sharednssdb/

           FIPS mode enabled.

       To verify that status of FIPS mode, run the -chkfips command with
       either a true or false flag (it doesn't matter which). The tool returns
       the current FIPS setting.

           modutil -chkfips false -dbdir sql:/home/my/sharednssdb/

           FIPS mode enabled.

       Changing the Password on a Token

       Initializing or changing a token's password:

           modutil -changepw tokenname [-pwfile old-password-file] [-newpwfile new-password-file]

           modutil -dbdir sql:/home/my/sharednssdb -changepw "NSS Certificate DB"

           Enter old password:
           Incorrect password, try again...
           Enter old password:
           Enter new password:
           Re-enter new password:
           Token "Communicator Certificate DB" password changed successfully.


       When a JAR file is run by a server, by modutil, or by any program that
       does not interpret JavaScript, a special information file must be
       included to install the libraries. There are several things to keep in
       mind with this file:

       o   It must be declared in the JAR archive's manifest file.

       o   The script can have any name.

       o   The metainfo tag for this is Pkcs11_install_script. To declare
           meta-information in the manifest file, put it in a file that is
           passed to signtool.

       Sample Script

       For example, the PKCS #11 installer script could be in the file
       pk11install. If so, the metainfo file for signtool includes a line such
       as this:

           + Pkcs11_install_script: pk11install

       The script must define the platform and version number, the module name
       and file, and any optional information like supported ciphers and
       mechanisms. Multiple platforms can be defined in a single install file.

           ForwardCompatible { IRIX:6.2:mips SUNOS:5.5.1:sparc }
           Platforms {
              WINNT::x86 {
                 ModuleName { "Example Module" }
                 ModuleFile { win32/fort32.dll }
                 Files {
                    win32/setup.exe {
                       RelativePath { %temp%/setup.exe }
                    win32/setup.hlp {
                       RelativePath { %temp%/setup.hlp }
                    win32/ {
                       RelativePath { %temp%/ }
              WIN95::x86 {
                 EquivalentPlatform {WINNT::x86}
              SUNOS:5.5.1:sparc {
                 ModuleName { "Example UNIX Module" }
                 ModuleFile { unix/ }
                 Files {
                    unix/ {
                    xplat/instr.html {
              IRIX:6.2:mips {
                 EquivalentPlatform { SUNOS:5.5.1:sparc }

       Script Grammar

       The script is basic Java, allowing lists, key-value pairs, strings, and
       combinations of all of them.

           --> valuelist

           valuelist --> value valuelist

           value ---> key_value_pair

           key_value_pair --> key { valuelist }

           key --> string

           string --> simple_string

           simple_string --> [^ \t\n\""{""}"]+

           complex_string --> ([^\"\\\r\n]|(\\\")|(\\\\))+

       Quotes and backslashes must be escaped with a backslash. A complex
       string must not include newlines or carriage returns.Outside of complex
       strings, all white space (for example, spaces, tabs, and carriage
       returns) is considered equal and is used only to delimit tokens.


       The Java install file uses keys to define the platform and module

       ForwardCompatible gives a list of platforms that are forward
       compatible. If the current platform cannot be found in the list of
       supported platforms, then the ForwardCompatible list is checked for any
       platforms that have the same OS and architecture in an earlier version.
       If one is found, its attributes are used for the current platform.

       Platforms (required) Gives a list of platforms. Each entry in the list
       is itself a key-value pair: the key is the name of the platform and the
       value list contains various attributes of the platform. The platform
       string is in the format system name:OS release:architecture. The
       installer obtains these values from NSPR. OS release is an empty string
       on non-Unix operating systems. NSPR supports these platforms:

       o   AIX (rs6000)

       o   BSDI (x86)

       o   FREEBSD (x86)

       o   HPUX (hppa1.1)

       o   IRIX (mips)

       o   LINUX (ppc, alpha, x86)

       o   MacOS (PowerPC)

       o   NCR (x86)

       o   NEC (mips)

       o   OS2 (x86)

       o   OSF (alpha)

       o   ReliantUNIX (mips)

       o   SCO (x86)

       o   SOLARIS (sparc)

       o   SONY (mips)

       o   SUNOS (sparc)

       o   UnixWare (x86)

       o   WIN16 (x86)

       o   WIN95 (x86)

       o   WINNT (x86)

       For example:


       The module information is defined independently for each platform in
       the ModuleName, ModuleFile, and Files attributes. These attributes must
       be given unless an EquivalentPlatform attribute is specified.

       Per-Platform Keys

       Per-platform keys have meaning only within the value list of an entry
       in the Platforms list.

       ModuleName (required) gives the common name for the module. This name
       is used to reference the module by servers and by the modutil tool.

       ModuleFile (required) names the PKCS #11 module file for this platform.
       The name is given as the relative path of the file within the JAR

       Files (required) lists the files that need to be installed for this
       module. Each entry in the file list is a key-value pair. The key is the
       path of the file in the JAR archive, and the value list contains
       attributes of the file. At least RelativePath or AbsolutePath must be
       specified for each file.

       DefaultMechanismFlags specifies mechanisms for which this module is the
       default provider; this is equivalent to the -mechanism option with the
       -add command. This key-value pair is a bitstring specified in
       hexadecimal (0x) format. It is constructed as a bitwise OR. If the
       DefaultMechanismFlags entry is omitted, the value defaults to 0x0.

           RSA:                   0x00000001
           DSA:                   0x00000002
           RC2:                   0x00000004
           RC4:                   0x00000008
           DES:                   0x00000010
           DH:                    0x00000020
           FORTEZZA:              0x00000040
           RC5:                   0x00000080
           SHA1:                  0x00000100
           MD5:                   0x00000200
           MD2:                   0x00000400
           RANDOM:                0x08000000
           FRIENDLY:              0x10000000
           OWN_PW_DEFAULTS:       0x20000000
           DISABLE:               0x40000000

       CipherEnableFlags specifies ciphers that this module provides that NSS
       does not provide (so that the module enables those ciphers for NSS).
       This is equivalent to the -cipher argument with the -add command. This
       key is a bitstring specified in hexadecimal (0x) format. It is
       constructed as a bitwise OR. If the CipherEnableFlags entry is omitted,
       the value defaults to 0x0.

       EquivalentPlatform specifies that the attributes of the named platform
       should also be used for the current platform. This makes it easier when
       more than one platform uses the same settings.

       Per-File Keys

       Some keys have meaning only within the value list of an entry in a
       Files list.

       Each file requires a path key the identifies where the file is. Either
       RelativePath or AbsolutePath must be specified. If both are specified,
       the relative path is tried first, and the absolute path is used only if
       no relative root directory is provided by the installer program.

       RelativePath specifies the destination directory of the file, relative
       to some directory decided at install time. Two variables can be used in
       the relative path: %root% and %temp%.  %root% is replaced at run time
       with the directory relative to which files should be installed; for
       example, it may be the server's root directory. The %temp% directory is
       created at the beginning of the installation and destroyed at the end.
       The purpose of %temp% is to hold executable files (such as setup
       programs) or files that are used by these programs. Files destined for
       the temporary directory are guaranteed to be in place before any
       executable file is run; they are not deleted until all executable files
       have finished.

       AbsolutePath specifies the destination directory of the file as an
       absolute path.

       Executable specifies that the file is to be executed during the course
       of the installation. Typically, this string is used for a setup program
       provided by a module vendor, such as a self-extracting setup
       executable. More than one file can be specified as executable, in which
       case the files are run in the order in which they are specified in the
       script file.

       FilePermissions sets permissions on any referenced files in a string of
       octal digits, according to the standard Unix format. This string is a
       bitwise OR.

           user read:                0400
           user write:               0200
           user execute:             0100
           group read:               0040
           group write:              0020
           group execute:            0010
           other read:               0004
           other write:              0002
           other execute:            0001

       Some platforms may not understand these permissions. They are applied
       only insofar as they make sense for the current platform. If this
       attribute is omitted, a default of 777 is assumed.


       NSS originally used BerkeleyDB databases to store security information.
       The last versions of these legacy databases are:

       o   cert8.db for certificates

       o   key3.db for keys

       o   secmod.db for PKCS #11 module information

       BerkeleyDB has performance limitations, though, which prevent it from
       being easily used by multiple applications simultaneously. NSS has some
       flexibility that allows applications to use their own, independent
       database engine while keeping a shared database and working around the
       access issues. Still, NSS requires more flexibility to provide a truly
       shared security database.

       In 2009, NSS introduced a new set of databases that are SQLite
       databases rather than BerkleyDB. These new databases provide more
       accessibility and performance:

       o   cert9.db for certificates

       o   key4.db for keys

       o   pkcs11.txt, which is listing of all of the PKCS #11 modules
           contained in a new subdirectory in the security databases directory

       Because the SQLite databases are designed to be shared, these are the
       shared database type. The shared database type is preferred; the legacy
       format is included for backward compatibility.

       By default, the tools (certutil, pk12util, modutil) assume that the
       given security databases follow the more common legacy type. Using the
       SQLite databases must be manually specified by using the sql: prefix
       with the given security directory. For example:

           modutil -create -dbdir sql:/home/my/sharednssdb

       To set the shared database type as the default type for the tools, set
       the NSS_DEFAULT_DB_TYPE environment variable to sql:

           export NSS_DEFAULT_DB_TYPE="sql"

       This line can be added to the ~/.bashrc file to make the change
       permanent for the user.

       Most applications do not use the shared database by default, but they
       can be configured to use them. For example, this how-to article covers
       how to configure Firefox and Thunderbird to use the new shared NSS


       For an engineering draft on the changes in the shared NSS databases,
       see the NSS project wiki:



       certutil (1)

       pk12util (1)

       signtool (1)

       The NSS wiki has information on the new database design and how to
       configure applications to use it.




       For information about NSS and other tools related to NSS (like JSS),
       check out the NSS project wiki at The NSS site relates
       directly to NSS code changes and releases.

       Mailing lists:

       IRC: Freenode at #dogtag-pki


       The NSS tools were written and maintained by developers with Netscape,
       Red Hat, Sun, Oracle, Mozilla, and Google.

       Authors: Elio Maldonado <>, Deon Lackey


       Licensed under the Mozilla Public License, v. 2.0. If a copy of the MPL
       was not distributed with this file, You can obtain one at


        1. Mozilla NSS bug 836477

nss-tools                       5 October 2017                      modutil(1)

nss 3.41 - Generated Fri Jan 11 07:21:52 CST 2019
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