4.6. TLS Erlang Distribution

The main purpose is specifically to allow using TLS for Erlang distribution between nodes, with the ability to connect to some nodes using TCP as well. TLS distribution will enhance data security during data migration between nodes.

This section describes how to enable TLS distribution for additional verification and security.

Reference: Using TLS for Erlang Distribution

4.6.1. Generate Certificate

To distribute using TLS, appropriate certificates need to be provided. In the following example (couch_dist.conf), the cert.pem certificate must be trusted by a root certificate known to the server, and the erlserver.pem file contains the “certificate” and its “private key”.

  [{cacertfile, "</absolute_path/to/ca-cert.pem>"},
   {certfile,   "</absolute_path/to/erlserver.pem>"},
   {secure_renegotiate, true},
   {verify, verify_peer},
   {fail_if_no_peer_cert, true}]},
  [{cacertfile, "</absolute_path/to/ca-cert.pem>"},
   {keyfile,    "</absolute_path/to/key.pem>"},
   {certfile,   "</absolute_path/to/cert.pem>"},
   {secure_renegotiate, true},
   {verify, verify_peer}]}].

You can use {verify, verify_peer} to enable verification, but it requires appropriate certificates to verify.

This is an example of generating certificates.

$ git clone https://github.com/rnewson/elixir-certs
$ cd elixir-certs
$ ./certs self-signed \
    --out-cert ca-cert.pem --out-key ca-key.pem \
    --template root-ca \
    --subject "/CN=CouchDB Root CA"
$./certs create-cert \
    --issuer-cert ca-cert.pem --issuer-key ca-key.pem \
    --out-cert cert.pem --out-key key.pem \
    --template server \
    --subject "/CN=<hostname>"
$ cat key.pem cert.pem >erlserver.pem


  • The above examples are not an endorsement of specific expiration limits, key sizes, or algorithms.

  • If option verify_peer is set, the server_name_indication option should also be specified.

  • The option {fail_if_no_peer_cert, true} should only be used on the server side in OTP 26, for previous versions it can be specified both on the server side and client side.

  • When generating certificates, make sure Common Name (FQDN) should be different in CA certificate and certificate. Also, FQDN in the certificate should be the same as the hostname.

4.6.2. Config Settings

To enable TLS distribution, make sure to set custom parameters in vm.args.

# Don't forget to override the paths to point to your cert and conf file!

-proto_dist couch
-couch_dist no_tls \"clouseau@\"
-ssl_dist_optfile </absolute_path/to/couch_dist.conf>


  • The default value of no_tls is false. If the user does not set any no_tls flag, all nodes will use TCP.

  • To ensure “search” works, make sure to set no_tls option for the clouseau node. By default, this will be "clouseau@".

The no_tls flag can have these values:

  1. Use TLS only, set to false (default value), such as:

    -couch_dist no_tls false
  2. Use TCP only, set to true, such as:

    -couch_dist no_tls true
  3. Specify some nodes to use TCP, others to use TLS, such as:

    # Specify node1 and node2 to use TCP, others use TLS
    -couch_dist no_tls '"node1@"'
    -couch_dist no_tls \"node2@\"
    # Any nodes end with "@" will use TCP, others use TLS
    -couch_dist no_tls \"*@\"


    Asterisk(*): matches a sequence of zero or more occurrences of the regular expression.

    Question mark(?): matches zero or one occurrences of the regular expression.

4.6.3. Connect to Remsh

Start Erlang using a remote shell connected to Node.

  • If the node uses TCP:

    $ ./remsh
  • If the node uses TLS:

    $ ./remsh -t </absolute_path/to/couch_dist.conf>