Defining a Manifest

The Manifest is a simple JSON file that determines the key properties of your cluster: Packages, Marbles, Secrets, and RecoveryKeys. This article describes how to define these in your manifest.json.


The Packages section of the Manifest lists all the secure enclave software packages that your application uses. A package is defined by the following properties.

  • UniqueID: this value will pin this package to one specific release build of an application. It represents the globally unique ID of the enclave software package; on SGX, this corresponds to the MRENCLAVE value, which is the SHA-256 hash of the enclave’s initial contents and its configuration.
  • SignerID: this value limits Marblerun to only accept releases signed by a given public key. On SGX, this corresponds to the MRSIGNER value, which is the SHA-256 hash of the enclave issuer’s RSA-3072 public key.
  • ProductID: an integer that uniquely identifies the enclave software for a given SignerID. Can only be used in conjunction with SignerID.
  • SecurityVersion: an integer that reflects the security-patch level of the enclave software. Can only be used in conjunction with SignerID.
  • Debug: set to true if the enclave is to be run in debug mode. This allows you to experiment with deploying your application with Marblerun without having to worry about setting correct values for the above properties, but note that enclaves in debug mode are not secure.

The following gives an example of a simple Packages section with made-up values.

    // ...
    "Packages": {
        "pkg0": {
            "UniqueID": "6b2822ac2585040d4b9397675d54977a71ef292ab5b3c0a6acceca26074ae585",
            "Debug": false
        "pkg1": {
            "SignerID": "43361affedeb75affee9baec7e054a5e14883213e5a121b67d74a0e12e9d2b7a",
            "ProductID": 43,
            "SecurityVersion": 3,
            "Debug": true
    // ...

In this example, pkg0 is identified through UniqueID. Since UniqueID is the hash of the enclave software package, this means that pkg0 cannot be updated. (That is because any update to the package will change the hash.)

In contrast, pkg1 is identified through the triplet SignerID, ProductID, and SecurityVersion. SignerID cryptographically identifies the vendor of the package; ProductID is an arbitrary product ID chosen by the vendor, and SecurityVersion is the security-patch level of the product. See our adding a service hands-on on how to get these values for a given service.

Future versions of Marblerun will accept any SecurityVersion that is equal or higher than the one specified in Packages for a given combination of SignerID and ProductID. This way, updates to packages can be made without having to alter the Manifest.


Marbles represent the actual services in your mesh. They are defined in the Marbles section, which typically looks somewhat like the following example.

    // ...
    "Marbles": {
        "backend_first": {
            "Package": "backend",
            "MaxActivations": 1,
            "Parameters": {
                "Files": {
                    "/tmp/defg.txt": "foo",
                    "/tmp/jkl.mno": "bar"
                "Env": {
                    "IS_FIRST": "true",
                    "ROOT_CA": "{{ pem .Marblerun.RootCA.Cert }}",
                    "SEAL_KEY": "{{ hex .Marblerun.SealKey }}",
                    "MARBLE_CERT": "{{ pem .Marblerun.MarbleCert.Cert }}",
                    "MARBLE_KEY": "{{ pem .Marblerun.MarbleCert.Private }}"
                "Argv": [
        "frontend": {
            "Package": "frontend",
            "Parameters": {
                "Env": {
                    "ROOT_CA": "{{ pem .Marblerun.RootCA.Cert }}",
                    "SEAL_KEY": "{{ hex .Marblerun.SealKey }}",
                    "MARBLE_CERT": "{{ pem .Marblerun.MarbleCert.Cert }}",
                    "MARBLE_KEY": "{{ pem .Marblerun.MarbleCert.Private }}"

Each Marble corresponds to a Package (see the previous section) and defines a set of optional Parameters:

  • Files: Files and their contents
  • Env: Environment variables
  • Argv: Command line arguments

These Parameters are passed from the Coordinator to secure enclaves (i.e., Marbles) after successful initial remote attestation. In the remote attestation step, the Coordinator ensures that enclaves run the software-defined in the Packages section. It is important to note that Parameters are only accessible from within the corresponding secure enclave. Parameters may contain arbitrary static data. However, they can also be used to securely communicate different types of dynamically generated cryptographic keys and certificates to Marbles. For this, we use Go Templates with the following syntax.

{{ <encoding> <name of key or certificate> }}

The following enconding types are available.

  • raw: raw bytes
  • hex: hex string
  • base64: Base64 encoding
  • pem: PEM encoding with a header matching the type of the requested key or certificate

The following named keys and certificates are always available.

  • .Marblerun.RootCA.Cert: the root certificate of the cluster issued by the Coordinator; this can be used to verify the certificates of all Marbles in the cluster.
  • .Marblerun.MarbleCert.Cert: the Marble’s certificate; this is issued by the .Marblerun.RootCA.Cert and is for Marble-to-Marble and Marble-to-client authentication.
  • .Marblerun.MarbleCert.Private: the Marble’s private key corresponding to .Marblerun.MarbleCert.Cert
  • .Marblerun.SealKey: a 128-bit symmetric encryption key, which can be used for sealing data to disk in a host-independent way; if a Marble is scheduled or restarted on a new host, this “virtual sealing key” will still allow for unsealing data from the disk even though the host’s actual sealing key might have changed.

Finally, the optional field MaxActivations can be used to restrict the number of distinct instances that can be created of a Marble.


In the previous section, we discussed how certain cryptographic keys and certificates can be injected into a Marble’s Parameters using Go Templates. In addition, Marblerun also allows for the specification of custom cryptographic keys and certificates in the Secrets section. A typical Secrets section looks like the following.

    "Secrets": {
        "secret_aes_key": {
            "Type": "symmetric-key",
            "Size": 128,
            "Shared": true
        "rsa_cert": {
            "Type": "cert-rsa",
            "Size": 2048,
            "Shared": false,
            "ValidFor": 7,
            "Cert": {
                "SerialNumber": 42,
                "Subject": {
                    "SerialNumber": "42",
                    "CommonName": "Marblerun Unit Test"

When defining a custom key or certificate, the following fields are available.

  • Type: can be either symmetric-key for a symmetric encryption key, cert-rsa, cert-ecdsa or cert-ed25519
  • Size: the size of the key in bits. For symmetric keys, this needs to be a multiple of 8. For ECDSA, this needs to map to a curve supported by Go’s crypto library, currently: 224, 256, 384, or 521. For Ed25519, this should be omitted.
  • Shared (default: false): specifies if the secret should be shared across all Marbles (true), or if the secret should be uniquely generated for each Marble (false). See Secrets management for more info.
  • ValidFor (only for certificates, default: 365): validity of the certificate in days; cannot be specified in combination with the NotAfter.
  • Cert (only for certificates): allows for the specification of additional X.509 certificate properties. See below for details.

Available Cert fields

When specifying a custom certificate in the Secrets section, the following properties can be set. These map directly to Go’s x509.Certificate structure. (This is because the Coordinator is written in Go.)

"Cert": {
        "SignatureAlgorithm": 0,
        "SerialNumber": null,
        "Subject": {
            "Country": null,
            "Organization": null,
            "OrganizationalUnit": null,
            "Locality": null,
            "Province": null,
            "StreetAddress": null,
            "PostalCode": null,
            "SerialNumber": "",
            "CommonName": "",
            "Names": null,
            "ExtraNames": null
        "NotAfter": "0001-01-01T00:00:00Z",
        "KeyUsage": 0,
        "ExtKeyUsage": null,
        "UnknownExtKeyUsage": null,
        "MaxPathLen": 0,
        "MaxPathLenZero": false,
        "SubjectKeyId": null,
        "AuthorityKeyId": null,
        "OCSPServer": null,
        "IssuingCertificateURL": null,
        "DNSNames": null,
        "EmailAddresses": null,
        "IPAddresses": null,
        "URIs": null,
        "PermittedDNSDomainsCritical": false,
        "PermittedDNSDomains": null,
        "ExcludedDNSDomains": null,
        "PermittedIPRanges": null,
        "ExcludedIPRanges": null,
        "PermittedEmailAddresses": null,
        "ExcludedEmailAddresses": null,
        "PermittedURIDomains": null,
        "ExcludedURIDomains": null,
        "CRLDistributionPoints": null,
        "PolicyIdentifiers": null

Typically, you only define a subset of these. Commonly used properties include for example:

  • DNSNames
  • IPAdresses
  • KeyUsage & ExtKeyUsage
  • Subject (+ children)

The following X.509 properties cannot be specified because they are set by the Coordinator when creating a certificate.

  • IsCA: always set to “false”
  • Issuer: always set to “Marblerun Coordinator”
  • BasicConstraintsValid: always set to “true”
  • NotBefore: always set to the host time at creation

Injecting custom secrets

Keys and certificates defined in the Secrets section can be injected via Parameters using the following syntax.

{{ <encoding> .Secrets.<name>.<part> }}

Refer to the previous section for a list of supported encodings. <part> can be any of the following.

  • empty: for secret type symmetric-key, returns the symmetric key. For other types, returns the public key.
  • Cert: returns the certificate.
  • Public: returns the public key.
  • Private: returns the private key.

The following gives some examples.

  • Inject the certificate of custom secret rsa_cert in PEM format: {{ pem .Secrets.rsa_cert.Cert }}
  • Inject the corresponding private key in PKCS#8 format: {{ raw .Secrets.rsa_cert.Private }}
  • Inject the corresponding public key PKIX-encoded and in PEM format: {{ pem .Secrets.rsa_cert.Public }}
  • Inject a symmetric key in hex format: {{ hex .Secrets.secret_aes_key }}


The optional entry Admins can be used to define one or multiple PEM-encoded self-signed X.509 certificates. Marblerun uses these certificates to authenticate updates to certain parameters of an already set manifest. (The process of updating a manifest is described in our updating a manifest hands-on).

    "Admins": {
        "alice": "-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----\nMIIFPjCCA...",
        "bob": "-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----\nMIIFP..."

When verifying certificates in this context, Marblerun ignores their issuer, subject, and expiration date fields. Thus, admins cannot lock themselves out through expired certificates.

Use OpenSSL to generate a compatible certificate.

openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:4096 -sha256 -days 3650 -nodes -keyout admin_private.key -out admin_certificate.crt

Use the following command to preserve newlines correctly:

awk 'NF {sub(/\r/, ""); printf "%s\\n",$0;}' admin_certificate.pem


The optional entry RecoveryKeys holds PEM-encoded RSA public keys which can be used to recover a failed Marblerun deployment. (The process of recovering a Marblerun instance is described in our recovery chapter). So far, only one public key entry is supported in the current release of Marblerun.

        "recoveryKey1": "-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY-----\nMIIBpTANBgk..."

This key can be generated with the help of OpenSSL.

openssl genrsa -out private_key.pem 4096
openssl rsa -in private_key.pem -outform PEM -pubout -out public_key.pem

Use the following command to preserve newlines correctly:

awk 'NF {sub(/\r/, ""); printf "%s\\n",$0;}' public_key.pem


Future versions of Marblerun will allow you to define certain trusted infrastructures and hardware configurations under Infrastructures.