Let’s Encrypt is a free Certificate Authority (CA). It provides a simple way to obtain, install and renew free TLS/SSL certificates. This guide will help you to obtain and install free SSL certificate and Secure Nginx with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu
It is recommended that to use a separate Nginx server block file instead of the default file. In this tutorial, we will create new Nginx server block files for each domain. Thus, we can avoid common mistakes and maintains the default files as a fallback configuration.
- Logged in to Ubuntu server with a non-root user with sudo privileges.
- Your domain name should pointing to your server IP address.
- Nginx installed and configured by How To Install Nginx on Ubuntu 20.04.
- Have a Nginx server block for your domain, as shown in this tutorial.
Install Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu
Following are the steps to install and use Certbot tool to obtain a free SSL certificate for Nginx on Ubuntu server. Now a days, certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt are trusted by almost all browsers.
Using Certbot client package, you can easily obtain, install and renew Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. It’s useful for configuring web servers to use the SSL certificates. The
certbot package is included in the default Ubuntu repositories.
Update the packages list and install the
certbot package by following commands:
sudo apt update
Next, you need to install dependencies for
python3-certbot-nginx package by executing below command:
sudo apt install python3-acme python3-certbot python3-mock python3-openssl python3-pkg-resources python3-pyparsing python3-zope.interface
certbot client by executing following command:
sudo apt install certbot python3-certbot-nginx
You can verify that
certbot is installed successfully or not by typing:
If on server UFW firewall enabled then you need to adjust firewall to allow HTTPS traffic.
You can see the current setting by typing:
sudo ufw status
Status: active To Action From -- ------ ---- OpenSSH ALLOW Anywhere Nginx HTTP ALLOW Anywhere OpenSSH (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6) Nginx HTTP (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6)
To let in HTTPS traffic, you need to allow the Nginx Full profile and delete the redundant Nginx HTTP profile allowance:
sudo ufw allow 'Nginx Full'
sudo ufw delete allow 'Nginx HTTP'
Now status should look like as below:
Status: active To Action From -- ------ ---- OpenSSH ALLOW Anywhere Nginx Full ALLOW Anywhere OpenSSH (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6) Nginx Full (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6)
Obtaining an SSL Certificate
There are many ways to obtain SSL certificates through plugins. Here, we will use
certbot client to obtain a SSL certificate:
sudo certbot --nginx -d example.com -d www.example.com
Using above command, we are requesting for
www.example.com domains. If you are installing certificate first time then it will ask you enter email address and agree terms and conditions.
Saving debug log to /var/log/letsencrypt/letsencrypt.log Plugins selected: Authenticator apache, Installer apache Enter email address (used for urgent renewal and security notices) (Enter 'c' to cancel):
Entered email address will be used for sending email alerts related to SSL renewal and expiration.
After doing so,
certbot will communicate with the Let’s Encrypt server and then run a challenge to verify that you are the owner of domain for which you’re requesting a certificate.
Once the validation complete, it will ask you how you would like to configure your HTTPS settings:
Please choose whether or not to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS, removing HTTP access. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1: No redirect - Make no further changes to the webserver configuration. 2: Redirect - Make all requests redirect to secure HTTPS access. Choose this for new sites, or if you're confident your site works on HTTPS. You can undo this change by editing your web server's configuration. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Select the appropriate number [1-2] then [enter] (press 'c' to cancel):
Select your choice and hit
Enter to go ahead. Your nginx server block will be update based on your selected option and will reload Nginx to take new settings effect.
After this step, Certbot configuration is finished and you will be presented with
Congratulations message as following:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Congratulations! You have successfully enabled https://your_domain and https://www.your_domain You should test your configuration at: https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=your_domain https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=www.your_domain - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Finally, your domain is secure with Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. You can verify by visiting your site with HTTPS protocol.
Auto Renew Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate
Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates have short-life period of
90 days so you need to renew it before it expire. You can use certbot auto-renew facility to avoid from SSL expiration. By default, Certbot package creates a
cronjob script at
/etc/cron.d which runs twice in a day and will automatically renew any certificate
30 days before its expiration. You can check renewal process by type :
sudo certbot renew --dry-run
If it will not show any errors means your installation is successful. Now on wards Certbot will take care of your SSL expiration and renew your certificates automatically and reload Apache to pick up the changes automatically.