Create valid self-signed certificates using OpenSSL

I was debugging a WebSocket connection failing with error net::ERR_INSECURE_RESPONSE, in Chrome, when I learnt that the self-signed certificate I was using was missing subject alternative names. This post brings together information I found in several different places, to create valid self-signed server certificates, using OpenSSL, that work with internet browsers such as Chrome.


To create a certificate with subject alternative names

openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:4096 -nodes -subj '/CN=localhost' -keyout key.pem -out cert.pem -days 365 -config openssl.cnf -extensions req_ext

Additional distinguished name properties may be specified by changing the subj option

-subj "/C=US/ST=private/L=province/O=city/"

A minimalist openssl.cnf file that contains req_ext extension section with subjectAltName

[ req ]
distinguished_name = req_distinguished_name
req_extensions     = req_ext
[ req_distinguished_name ]
[ req_ext ]
subjectAltName = @alt_names
DNS.1   = localhost
DNS.2   =

Print certificate to view subject alternative names and thumbprint/fingerprint

openssl x509 -noout -text -fingerprint -in cert.pem

Create pfx from private key and certificate in pem format

openssl pkcs12 -inkey key.pem -in cert.pem -export -out key.pfx

Create crt file from certificate in pem format

openssl x509 -outform der -in cert.pem -out cert.crt

Add private key to the appropriate key store and reconfigure server application.

Add certificate file to trusted root authorities key store. Restart the browser. It should be happy with the certificate provided by the server.

On Windows, PowerShell’s New-SelfSignedCertificate command can also be used to automate self-signed certificate creation and installation.


Windows IoT Core application using Xamarin Forms


Screenshot of my first Windows 10 IoT Core Xamarin Forms application running on a Raspberry Pi 3. The app is the first exercise in Udemy’s Xamarin Forms course. The UWP build targeting Windows IoT Core was created following Adding a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) App. Take a look at how other native UWP IoT Core samples look and work. Also take a look at Xamarin Forms sample apps available at GitHub. You can also create an OS X application following Bringing macOS to Xamarin.Forms.

Randomly shuffle lines in a file

shuf -o output.txt input.txt

Install coreutils on Mac OS X using Homebrew, if not already installed. Call gshuf instead of shuf.

HTTP/S capture using mitmproxy

This post shows how to install mitmproxy on Mac OS X (El Capitan) to capture HTTP/S traffic, especially useful when debugging applications.

I’ve been using Telerik Fiddler on Windows for sniffing HTTP/S and WebSocket traffic, but it isn’t very reliable on Mac or Linux. mitmproxy fills the lacuna well, but it does not yet support WebSocket traffic.


Use pip to install mitmproxy thus

pip install mitmproxy

I encountered several compilation issues while installing through pip. I’ll go through them one by one. The first error results from failure to compile cryptography

    building '_openssl' extension
    clang -fno-strict-aliasing -fno-common -dynamic -I/usr/local/include -I/usr/local/opt/sqlite/include -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O3 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -I/usr/local/Cellar/python/2.7.9/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/include/python2.7 -c build/temp.macosx-10.10-x86_64-2.7/_openssl.c -o build/temp.macosx-10.10-x86_64-2.7/build/temp.macosx-10.10-x86_64-2.7/_openssl.o
    build/temp.macosx-10.10-x86_64-2.7/_openssl.c:431:10: fatal error: 'openssl/aes.h' file not found
    #include <openssl/aes.h>
    1 error generated.
    error: command 'clang' failed with exit status 1

That can be resolved by executing pip to install cryptography thus

env LDFLAGS="-L$(brew --prefix openssl)/lib" CFLAGS="-I$(brew --prefix openssl)/include" pip install mitmproxy

With that dependency resolved, mitmproxy install fails with the following error

    building 'lxml.etree' extension
    clang -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O3 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -I/usr/local/opt/openssl/include -I/usr/include/libxml2 -Isrc/lxml/includes -I/usr/local/Cellar/python/2.7.9/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/include/python2.7 -c src/lxml/lxml.etree.c -o build/temp.macosx-10.10-x86_64-2.7/src/lxml/lxml.etree.o -w -flat_namespace
    In file included from src/lxml/lxml.etree.c:323:
    src/lxml/includes/etree_defs.h:14:10: fatal error: 'libxml/xmlversion.h' file not found
    #include "libxml/xmlversion.h"
    1 error generated.
    Compile failed: command 'clang' failed with exit status 1
    cc -I/usr/include/libxml2 -I/usr/include/libxml2 -c /var/folders/3v/zgzrr9h96_34db7lt9_fx1wr0000gn/T/xmlXPathInitdIvQjA.c -o var/folders/3v/zgzrr9h96_34db7lt9_fx1wr0000gn/T/xmlXPathInitdIvQjA.o
    /var/folders/3v/zgzrr9h96_34db7lt9_fx1wr0000gn/T/xmlXPathInitdIvQjA.c:1:10: fatal error: 'libxml/xpath.h' file not found
    #include "libxml/xpath.h"
    1 error generated.
    Could not find function xmlCheckVersion in library libxml2. Is libxml2 installed?
    Perhaps try: xcode-select --install

Luckily, that error also shows the solution, run

xcode-select --install

Now, mitmproxy should install successfully.


To capture HTTP/S traffic using mitmproxy traffic, run


mitmproxy should show which port it is listening at; 8080 is the default. Use http://localhost:8080 as the HTTP proxy setting in browsers and applications.

Android emulator

This is how you can execute Android emulator to use mitmproxy as an HTTP proxy

export DYLD_FALLBACK_LIBRARY_PATH=~/Library/Android/sdk/tools/lib64
~/Library/Android/sdk/tools/emulator64-x86 -avd Nexus_S_API_21_x86 -http-proxy http://localhost:8080

The first line is needed so that the emulator can find the necessary libraries such as OpenGLES emulation library.

Pinned Certificates

If you try to access any site in the Android browser, or run any application that uses HTTP/S, mitmproxy will capture all traffic. To capture SSL traffic mitmproxy presents its own certificate to the applications. The root certificate that mitmproxy uses will need to be added to the certificate store, to avoid failures in certificate chain validation. This can be done by navigating to the special URL in the browser, and picking your platform from the resulting page.

If you use certificate pinning in your applications, you can add ~/.mitmproxy/mitmproxy-ca-cert.cer to the list of certificates.

WebSocket traffic

mitmproxy does not support WebSocket traffic so connection establishment will fail. You can however setup mitmproxy to ignore traffic to a certain host:port. This can be leveraged to ask it to ignore WebSocket traffic.

mitmproxy --ignore 192\.168\.1\.10:888[1-9]

Folders consuming most disk space using du

du is available natively on almost all Linux distributions, and on Mac OS X. If you are in need of reclaiming disk space, and want to quickly find which folders to focus your attention on, run the following command

du -h -d 1

That will quickly list all the folders under the current folder and their disk space usage. Use the following command to check space left on each disk

df -h

USB Serial

Serial port access can be very useful during embedded systems development.

I do most of my development on Mac OS X, or Ubuntu and Windows virtual machines. I use a USB to serial cable/breakout to connect a serial port to the Mac, which is then redirected by Parallels Desktop to the guest OS.

If you have a cable that uses the Prolific USB Serial chipset, getting up and running is well documented by Plugable. The driver they provide works for me. Most other cables use a chipset from FTDI, but Mac OS X already provides a driver for that.

To interact with a terminal on the embedded system you need some kind of terminal emulator.

I use and screen on Ubuntu -b 115200 /dev/ttyUSB0

Ensure that you have access to the device

sudo chmod 777 /dev/ttyUSB0

On Mac OS X I usually use screen

screen /dev/cu.usbserial 115200

Upgrade to Ubuntu 14.04 on Parallels Desktop 9

Ubuntu 13.10 is no longer officially supported so decided to bite the bullet and go ahead with the upgrade to Ubuntu 14.04, on Parallels Desktop 9. I’m running Parallels on an early 2013 MackBook Pro with Retina Display. The MAC OS X version is 10.10 (Yosemite) Public Beta. I installed the public beta after encountering problems running Parallels with Developer Preview beta 6.

Originally, I started with an Ubuntu 13.04 VM that Parallels officially supports, and at some point upgraded to 13.10. Ubuntu’s Unity interface does not work at all after that upgrade. I don’t get the taskbar or the menu bar at the top. I gave up on Unity, and followed instructions from Parallels to install and enable GNOME Flashback. Desktop works all right after that, even after upgrade to 14.04.