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Issuing a New Operational Certificate

Your stake pool requires a valid operational certificate to verify that the pool has the authority to run.
A current KES key pair is required to establish an operational certificate for your stake pool. A KES period indicates the time span when an operational certificate is valid. An operational certificate expires 90 days after the KES period defined in the operational certificate. You must generate a new KES key pair and operational certificate every 90 days, or sooner, for your stake pool to mint blocks.
The private KES key is required to start the block producing node for your stake pool. The public KES key is not sensitive.
Issuing an operational certificate also uses a counter that increments by exactly one (1) for each unique operational certificate that a stake pool uses to mint blocks. In a valid operational certificate, the counter value that you use to issue the operational certificate must be consistent with the current counter value for your stake pool registered on the Cardano blockchain by the protocol.

Determining the Counter Value

To retrieve the current counter value for your stake pool registered by the blockchain protocol:
  • In a terminal window on your block producer node, type:
cd $NODE_HOME
cardano-cli query kes-period-info \
--${NODE_CONFIG} \
--op-cert-file node.cert
The cardano-cli query kes-period-info command returns output similar to:
✓ Operational certificate's KES period is within the correct KES period interval
✓ The operational certificate counter agrees with the node protocol state counter
{
"qKesCurrentKesPeriod": 15,
"qKesEndKesInterval": 18,
"qKesKesKeyExpiry": null,
"qKesMaxKESEvolutions": 6,
"qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber": 3,
"qKesOnDiskOperationalCertificateNumber": 3,
"qKesRemainingSlotsInKesPeriod": 690,
"qKesSlotsPerKesPeriod": 300,
"qKesStartKesInterval": 12
}
The value of the qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber key indicates the current counter value for your stake pool registered by the blockchain protocol. The value of the qKesOnDiskOperationalCertificateNumber key indicates the counter value of the current operational certificate that your stake pool uses.
For a new operational certificate, the counter value must be exactly one (1) greater than the current value of the qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber key.
If qKesOnDiskOperationalCertificateNumber is more than one (1) greater than qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber then the operational certificate is invalid. Your stake pool cannot mint blocks using an invalid operational certificate.

Setting the Counter Value

When you issue a new operational certificate, a node.counter file sets the counter value for the new certificate.
If you follow the Coin Cashew instructions, then you created a node.counter file when Generating Keys for the Block-producing Node
When you run the cardano-cli query kes-period-info command on your block producer node, if the value of the qKesOnDiskOperationalCertificateNumber key equals the value of the qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber key, then your stake pool minted at least one block using the current operational certificate and you do not need to set the counter value manually.
If the value of the qKesOnDiskOperationalCertificateNumber key is greater than the value of the qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber key, then prior to issuing a new operational certificate you need to set the counter value using the following procedure.
To set the counter value for issuing a new operational certificate:
  1. 1.
    To create a new node.counter file having the required counter value, type the following command in a terminal window on your air-gapped, offline computer where <NodeCertificateNumber> is the current value of the qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber key for your stake pool:
cd $HOME/cold-keys
cardano-cli node new-counter \
--cold-verification-key-file $HOME/cold-keys/node.vkey \
--counter-value $(( <NodeCertificateNumber> + 1 )) \
--operational-certificate-issue-counter-file node.counter
If the current value of the qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber key is null, then set the --counter-value option to zero (0)
  1. 1.
    To display the contents of the node.counter file that you created in step 1, type:
cat $HOME/cold-keys/node.counter
When you generate a new node.counter file, the value of the description key is empty until you issue a new operational certificate.

Issuing a New Operational Certificate

To issue a new operational certificate:
  1. 1.
    In a terminal window on your block producer node, type the following commands to generate a new KES key pair:
cd $NODE_HOME
cardano-cli node key-gen-KES \
--verification-key-file kes.vkey \
--signing-key-file kes.skey
  1. 1.
    Copy the kes.vkey file that you generated in step 1 to your air-gapped, offline computer.
  2. 2.
    To issue a new operational certificate, you must set a starting KES period. To calculate the starting KES period for your new operational certificate, type the following commands in a terminal window on your block producer node:
cd $NODE_HOME
# Query the current slot height of the blockchain, and then
# retrieve the value of the slot key in the results
slotNo=$(cardano-cli query tip --mainnet | jq -r '.slot')
# Retrieve the number of slots per KES period from the key named slotsPerKESPeriod
# in the Shelley Genesis JSON configuration file that your stake pool uses
slotsPerKESPeriod=$(cat $NODE_HOME/shelley-genesis.json | jq -r '.slotsPerKESPeriod')
# To calculate the current KES period, divide the current slot height by
# the number of slots per KES period
kesPeriod=$((${slotNo} / ${slotsPerKESPeriod}))
StartingKESPeriod=${kesPeriod}
echo StartingKESPEriod: ${StartingKESPeriod}
  1. 1.
    To issue a new operational certificate, type the following command in a terminal window on your air-gapped, offline computer where <KESvkeyFile> is the path to the kes.vkey file that you copied in step 2 and <StartingKESPeriod> is the starting KES period that you calculated in step 3:
cd $NODE_HOME
chmod u+rwx $HOME/cold-keys
cardano-cli node issue-op-cert \
--kes-verification-key-file <KESvkeyFile> \
--cold-signing-key-file $HOME/cold-keys/node.skey \
--operational-certificate-issue-counter $HOME/cold-keys/node.counter \
--kes-period <StartingKESPeriod> \
--out-file node.cert
chmod a-rwx $HOME/cold-keys
Issuing a new operational certificate increments the value of the node.counter file by one (1) To display the contents of the node.counter file, type cat $HOME/cold-keys/node.counter
  1. 1.
    Copy the node.cert file that you created in step 4 to replace the current node.cert file on your block producer node.
  2. 2.
    To restart your block producer node, type:
sudo systemctl restart cardano-node
  1. 1.
    To verify the operational certificate that you issued in step 4, wait until your block producer node starts, and then type:
cd $NODE_HOME
cardano-cli query kes-period-info \
--${NODE_CONFIG} \
--op-cert-file node.cert
In the results of the cardano-cli query kes-period-info command, prior to your stake pool minting a block using the operational certificate that you issued in step 4, in a valid operational certificate the value of the qKesOnDiskOperationalCertificateNumber key is greater than the value of the qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber key by exactly one (1) The first time your stake pool mints a block using the operational certificate that you issued in step 4, the value of the qKesNodeStateOperationalCertificateNumber increments by one (1) to equal the value of the qKesOnDiskOperationalCertificateNumber key.
  1. 1.
    In a secure location, create backup copies of the KES key files that you generated in step 1; the current node.counter file for your stake pool; and, the node.cert file that you generated in step 4
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Technical writing by Change Pool [CHG]