Letsencrypt, cavemen edition

Just had to do some letsencrypt setup in some servers so I figured I should write down what I did so I can just check this page again instead of digging how I did it previously.


  • nginx
  • certbot

This assumes the server only serves https and redirects all http traffic. Adjust as needed otherwise.

Full nginx SSL/TLS config not included.

First add this config to nginx to handle verification:

# part of default port 80 config block
location /.well-known/acme-challenge/ {
    root /var/www/certbot;

And then create the directory (I’m not actually sure if needed):

# mkdir -p /var/www/certbot

Make the first cert because I’m too lazy to ensure the config directory is setup correctly:

# certbot certonly --webroot -w /var/www/certbot -d DOMAIN_NAME_GOES_HERE --keep --agree-tos --email SOME_KIND_OF@EMAIL_ADDRESS --no-eff-email

At this step, the certificate and all should have been properly generated.

Then use it in nginx configuration, the relevant server block:

ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/DOMAIN_NAME_GOES_HERE/fullchain.pem;
ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/DOMAIN_NAME_GOES_HERE/privkey.pem;
ssl_trusted_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/DOMAIN_NAME_GOES_HERE/chain.pem;

If the full path seems too long, symlink it to nginx config base directory or something.

Update certbot CLI configuration located at /etc/letsencrypt/cli.ini:

rsa-key-size = 4096
text = True
authenticator = webroot
webroot-path = /var/www/certbot

To add more certificates:

# certbot certonly -d ANOTHER_DOMAIN

Don’t forget to update nginx configuration as before.

Since the certificate needs renewal periodically, create this simple script:

# I personally put this in /root/bin/refresh-ssl-certbot

/usr/bin/certbot renew
/path/to/sbin/nginx -s reload

Make executable, etc. Try it to make sure it runs properly.

Then add it crontab. I usually do it weekly.

And done.

There might be smarter way using certbot’s nginx plugin or something but I haven’t bothered reading its documentation and initially this was just a stopgap switching from acme-client which is way simpler but stopped working for me few months ago.

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