keymgr man page

keymgr — DNSSEC key management utility


keymgr [global-options] [command...] [arguments...]

keymgr [global-options] [command...] help


The keymgr utility serves for key management in Knot DNS server.

Primarily functions for DNSSEC keys and KASP (Key And Signature Policy) management are provided. However the utility also provides functions for TSIG key generation.

The DNSSEC and KASP configuration is stored in a so called KASP database. The database is simply a directory in the file-system containing files in the JSON format.

The operations are organized into commands and subcommands. A command specifies the operation to be performed with the KASP database. It is usually followed by named arguments. The special command help can be used to list available subcommands in that area. The listing of available command arguments is not supported yet.

Command and argument names are parsed in a smart way. Only a beginning of a name can be entered and it will be recognized. The specified part of a name must be unique amongst the other names.

Global options

-c, --config file

Use a textual configuration file to get the KASP database location.

-C, --confdb directory

Use a binary configuration database directory to get the KASP database location.

-d, --dir path

Use a specified KASP database path to work with.

-h, --help

Print the program help.

-l, --legacy

Enable legacy mode. Zone, policy, and keystore configuration is stored in KASP database (not in server configuration).

-V, --version

Print the program version.

KASP database location

The location of the KASP database is determined as follows:


The path specified with --dir.


The path read from the server configuration specified with --confdb or --config.


The path read from the server default configuration database.


The path read from the server default configuration file.

In legacy mode, the path is determined as follows:


The path specified with --dir.


The path specified in the KEYMGR_DIR environment variable.


The current working dir.

Main commands

tsig ...

Operations with TSIG keys.

zone ...

Operations with zones in the database. A zone holds assigned signing configuration and signing metadata.

Main commands (legacy)


Initialize new KASP database or upgrade existing one. The command is idempotent and therefore it is safe to be run multiple times.

The command creates a default policy and default key store (both named default). In case of upgrade, existing objects are checked and any missing attributes are filled in.

policy ...

Operations with KASP policies. A policy holds parameters that define the way how a zone is signed.

keystore ...

Operations with key stores configured for the KASP database. A private key store holds private key material for zone signing separately from the zone metadata.

tsig commands

tsig generate name [algorithm id] [size bits]

Generate new TSIG key and print it on the standard output. The algorithm defaults to hmac-sha256. The default key size is determined optimally based on the selected algorithm.

The generated key is printed out in the server configuration format to allow direct inclusion into the server configuration. The first line of the output contains a comment with the key in the one-line key format accepted by client utilities.

zone commands

zone key list zone-name [filter [filter]]

List key IDs and tags of zone keys. The filter can be a key tag, a key ID prefix, a key state (active, published, retired, removed) or ksk/zsk. Key state and ksk/zsk combination is possible. Use these key state and ksk/zsk with prefix '+' ('+ksk', '+active').

zone key show zone-name key

Show zone key details. The key can be a key tag or a key ID prefix.

zone key ds zone-name filter

Show DS records for a zone key. The filter can be a key tag, a key ID prefix or key state (limited to active and published ksk). Use these key state as '+active' or '+published'.

zone key generate zone-name [key-parameter...]

Generate a new key for a zone.

zone key import zone-name key-file

Import an existing key in the legacy format. The key-file suffix .private or .key is not required. A public key without a matching private key cannot be imported.

zone key set zone-name key [key-parameter...]

Change a key parameter. Only key timing parameters can be changed.

Available key-parameters:

algorithm id

Algorithm number or IANA mnemonic.

size bits

Size of the key in bits.


Set the DNSKEY SEP (Secure Entry Point) flag.

publish time

The time the key is published as a DNSKEY record.

active time

The time the key is started to be used for signing.

retire time

The time the key is stopped to be used for signing.

remove time

The time the key's DNSKEY is removed from the zone.

The time accepts YYYYMMDDHHMMSS format, unix timestamp, or offset from the current time. For the offset, add + or - prefix and optionally a suffix mi, h, d, w, mo, or y. If no suffix is specified, the offset is in seconds.

zone commands (legacy)

zone add zone-name [policy policy-name]

Add a zone into the database. The policy defaults to 'default'.

zone list [pattern]

List zones in the database matching the pattern as a substring.

zone remove zone-name [force]

Remove a zone from the database. If some keys are currently active, the force argument must be specified.

zone set zone-name [policy policy-name]

Change zone configuration. At the moment, only a policy can be changed.

zone show zone-name

Show zone details.

policy commands (legacy)

policy list

List policies in the database.

policy show policy-name

Show policy details.

policy add policy-name [policy-parameter...]

Add a new policy into the database.

policy set policy-name [policy-parameter...]

Change policy configuration.

policy remove policy-name

Remove a policy from the database. Note, the utility does not check if the policy is used.

Available policy-parameters:

algorithm id

DNSKEY algorithm number or IANA mnemonic.

dnskey-ttl seconds

TTL value for DNSKEY records.

ksk-size bits

Size of the KSK.

zsk-size bits

Size of the ZSK.

zsk-lifetime seconds

Period between ZSK publication and the next rollover initiation.

rrsig-lifetime seconds

Validity period of issued signatures.

rrsig-refresh seconds

Period before signature expiration when the signature will be refreshed.

nsec3 enable

Specifies if NSEC3 will be used instead of NSEC.

nsec3-iterations iterations

Specifies the number of additional iterations in NSEC3 computation.

nsec3-salt-length bytes

Specifies salt length for NSEC3 computation.

nsec3-salt-lifetime seconds

Period after which a new NSEC3 salt is generated.

soa-min-ttl seconds

SOA Minimum TTL field. Note, Knot DNS overwrites the value with the real used value.

zone-max-ttl seconds

Max TTL in the zone. Note, Knot DNS will determine the value automatically in the future.

delay seconds

Zone signing and data propagation delay. The value is added for safety to timing of all rollover steps.

manual enable

Enable manual key management. If enabled, no keys will be generated or rolled automatically.

keystore name

Name of the key store to be used for private key material.

keystore commands (legacy)

keystore list

List names of configured key stores.

keystore show name

Show configuration of a key store named name and list key IDs of private key material present in that key store.

keystore add name [backend backend] [config config]

Configure new key store. The name is a unique key store identifier. The backend and backend-specific configuration string config determine where the private key material will be physically stored.

Supported key store backends:

pkcs8 (default)

The backend stores private key material in unencrypted X.509 PEM files in a directory specified as the backend configuration string. The path can be specified relatively to the KASP database location.


The backend stores private key material in a cryptographic token accessible via the PKCS #11 interface. The configuration string consists of a token PKCS #11 URL and PKCS #11 module path separated by the space character.

The format of the PKCS #11 URL is described in RFC 7512. If the token is protected by a PIN, make sure to include pin-value or pin-source attribute in the URL.

The PKCS #11 module path can be an absolute path or just a module name. In the later case, the module is looked up in the default modules location.



Generate two RSA-SHA-256 signing keys. The first key will be used as a KSK, the second one as a ZSK:

$ keymgr zone key generate algorithm rsasha256 size 2048 ksk
$ keymgr zone key generate algorithm rsasha256 size 1024

Import a key in legacy format. The used algorithm must match with the one configured in the policy:

$ keymgr zone key import

Generate a TSIG key named operator.key:

$ keymgr tsig generate operator.key algorithm hmac-sha512

See Also

RFC 6781 - DNSSEC Operational Practices.

knot.conf(5), knotc(8), knotd(8).


CZ.NIC Labs <>

Referenced By

kdig(1), knsupdate(1).

2017-02-10 2.4.1 Knot DNS