Pass phrase is required after restarting Apache server

Solution ID:    SO14536    Updated:    07/27/2016


The reason this dialog pops up at startup and every re-start is that the RSA private key inside a server.key file is stored in encrypted format for security reasons. The pass phrase is needed to decrypt this file, so it can be read and parsed.


This document was created to assist with installing an SSL certificate on an Apache server.  If this document can not be used within the environment, RapidSSL recommends contacting an organization that supports Apache.

There are two options to resolve this issue on Apache server. Please review the suggested solutions.

Option 1: Remove the passphrase from the private key

This option will create a new copy of the private key that will not include a passphrase.

  1. Remove passphrase requirement on private key for Apache-SSL

Option 2: Use a passphrase file

This option will create a passphrase file on the server that will be used to provide the private key passphrase when Apache starts.

  1. Create a file, for example in /etc/httpd/conf, named passphrase-file.conf. Within the passphrase file, include the lines below.

    echo "[private key passphrase]"

  2. To make the passphrase file executable, use the command below

    chmod +x [/path/to/passphrase-file.conf]
  3. Check /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf for the line that contains "SSLPassPhraseDialog"

    SSLPassPhraseDialog exec:[/path/to/passphrase-file.conf]
  4. Stop and start Apache at this point.

    /usr/sbin/apachectl stop
    /usr/sbin/apachectl startssl


Please visit Apache's web site documentation for more information.


RapidSSL has made efforts to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information in this document. However, RapidSSL makes no warranties of any kind (whether express, implied or statutory) with respect to the information contained herein. RapidSSL assumes no liability to any party for any loss or damage (whether direct or indirect) caused by any errors, omissions, or statements of any kind contained in this document.  Further, RapidSSL assumes no liability arising from the application or use of the product or service described herein and specifically disclaims any representation that the products or services described herein do not infringe upon any existing or future intellectual property rights. Nothing herein grants the reader any license to make, use, or sell equipment or products constructed in accordance with this document. Finally, all rights and privileges related to any intellectual property right described herein are vested in the patent, trademark, or service mark owner, and no other person may exercise such rights without express permission, authority, or license secured from the patent, trademark, or service mark owner. RapidSSL reserves the right to make changes to any information herein without further notice.

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