The GridPP UserGuide

Your Grid certificate

Your grid certificate is your passport to the grid. It will give you access to the vast array of computational resources that GridPP (and the wLCG) has to offer. As such, getting a grid certificate is an understandably non-trivial, multi-step process. For example, you will need to identify yourself to your local Registration Authority (RA) so that the grid knows who you are.

In concrete terms, a grid certificate is a .p12 file (i.e. a pkcs12 web browser certificate file) that you will later convert into a user key file and a user certificate file. Encoded according to the X.509 standard, these are used by the grid to confirm who are you are and so give you access to grid resources.

Requesting a grid certificate

Grid certificates in the UK are managed by the UK e-science Certificate Authority. To start the process, you need to choose a web browser that you will have consistent access to. We recommend Firefox as this process has been tested and confirmed to work with Firefox on most Operating Systems. This is because you need to use the same system for both requesting your certificate and retrieving it when it is ready.

Do not use a temporary login anywhere when requesting a grid certificate.

Using your browser of choice visit this page and select the Request New User Certificate option. This almost goes without saying, but make sure you supply a valid email address which you can access. You will also be asked to do things like supply a PIN and passwords that you will need later on, so make sure you write everything down!

You will need to select a Registration Authority (RA) as part of this process. If your institution does not have its own RA, select the nearest on the drop-down menu. You will need to visit the RA in person with some photographic identification, so don't pick one that is too far away! If no contact information is listed for a given RA, they will almost certainly be retrievable using a Search Engine of Your Choice or via their department's webpage. They will be delighted to hear from you!

Further instructions will then be emailed to you at the email address you have supplied during the registration process. Once that has happened you should get a further email from someone at the RA asking you to visit them in person to complete the validation process.

You may also be asked to supply a letter of recommendation (or, rather, an email from a suitable authority) explaining why you need to use the grid and with whom you will be working. If you are unsure about who to ask for this, please contact us and we should be able to help you out.

Installing your grid certificate in your web browser

Assuming all has gone to plan, you should receive a confirmation email with a link that will let you download your grid certificate file and install it in your browser. You will now be able to export and backup your grid certificate using your browser's certificate management functionality. This process will vary from browser to browser and from OS to OS, so consult the UK CA documentation if in doubt.

Congratulations - now you can be identified on the grid, you're ready to join a Virtual Organisation.