The chapter describes processes for various tasks and aims at all user groups.


NetHSM’s primary interface is a modern REST-API that guarantees best performance and functionality. The API specification is available in OpenAPI format, and can be inspected and tested in the API browser.


The NetHSM supports the PKCS#11 standard. The required driver is available from the repository. The repository containes the source code and libraries, for different operating systems. The PKCS#11 guide describes the usage in detail.

Development and Testing#

A public NetHSM demo instance is available at It will be reset every eight hours (CET 6:00, 14:00, 22:00). User “admin”, password “adminadmin”, unlock password “unlockunlock”.

Alternatively, you can run the NetHSM as a Docker container locally.

The container can be executed as follows.

$ sudo docker run --rm -ti -p8443:8443 nitrokey/nethsm:testing

This will run NetHSM as a Unix process inside the container and expose the REST API on the port 8443 via the HTTPS protocol.

Additionaly to running the NetHSM as a Unix process it can be run as a unikernel supported by KVM.

The container can be executed as follows.

$ docker run -ti --rm -p 8443:8443 --device /dev/net/tun --device /dev/kvm --cap-add=NET_ADMIN nitrokey/nethsm:testing

This will run NetHSM as a unikernel inside a KVM virtual machine. The container will expose the REST API, via the HTTPS protocol, on the interface tap200 with the IP address and port 8443.


The container uses a self-signed TLS certificate. Make sure to use the correct connection settings to establish a connection. Please refer to chapter NetHSM introduction to learn more.

Integration into Custom Application#

To integrate the NetHSM into own custom applications, client libraries are available for almost all programming languages. Here are libraries for Python and Rust as well as this 3rd party Rust crate. For all other programming languages we recommend using OpenAPI Generator.

The list of all available languages can be retrieved as follows.

$ docker run --rm -ti openapitools/openapi-generator-cli list -i stable

The NetHSM client can be generated for your programming language as follows.

$ docker run --rm -ti -v "${PWD}/out:/out" openapitools/openapi-generator-cli generate -i= -o out -g javascript

The generated client code, in this example JavaScript, will be created in the ./out/ directory. This folder also contains the necessary documentation how to use it.


If Podman is used with enforcing SELinux, a labeling to the volume mount might be required. The mode of SELinux can be requested with sestatus |grep "Current mode". If the mode is set to enforcing, a change to the context is required. In this case the volume mount must be postfixed with :z, resulting in -v "${PWD}/out:/out:z".