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      How To Create a Self-Signed SSL Certificate for Apache in Ubuntu 20.04


      Introduction

      TLS, or “transport layer security” — and its predecessor SSL — are protocols used to wrap normal traffic in a protected, encrypted wrapper. Using this technology, servers can safely send information to their clients without their messages being intercepted or read by an outside party.

      In this guide, we will show you how to create and use a self-signed SSL certificate with the Apache web server on Ubuntu 20.04.

      Note: A self-signed certificate will encrypt communication between your server and any clients. However, because it is not signed by any of the trusted certificate authorities included with web browsers and operating systems, users cannot use the certificate to validate the identity of your server automatically. As a result, your users will see a security error when visiting your site.

      Because of this limitation, self-signed certificates are not appropriate for a production environment serving the public. They are typically used for testing, or for securing non-critical services used by a single user or a small group of users that can establish trust in the certificate’s validity through alternate communication channels.

      For a more production-ready certificate solution, check out Let’s Encrypt, a free certificate authority. You can learn how to download and configure a Let’s Encrypt certificate in our How To Secure Apache with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 20.04 tutorial.

      Prerequisites

      Before starting this tutorial, you’ll need the following:

      • Access to a Ubuntu 20.04 server with a non-root, sudo-enabled user. Our Initial Server Setup with Ubuntu 20.04 guide can show you how to create this account.
      • You will also need to have Apache installed. You can install Apache using apt. First, update the local package index to reflect the latest upstream changes:

      Then, install the apache2 package:

      And finally, if you have a ufw firewall set up, open up the http and https ports:

      • sudo ufw allow "Apache Full"

      After these steps are complete, be sure you are logged in as your non-root user and continue with the tutorial.

      Step 1 — Enabling mod_ssl

      Before we can use any SSL certificates, we first have to enable mod_ssl, an Apache module that provides support for SSL encryption.

      Enable mod_ssl with the a2enmod command:

      Restart Apache to activate the module:

      • sudo systemctl restart apache2

      The mod_ssl module is now enabled and ready for use.

      Step 2 – Creating the SSL Certificate

      Now that Apache is ready to use encryption, we can move on to generating a new SSL certificate. The certificate will store some basic information about your site, and will be accompanied by a key file that allows the server to securely handle encrypted data.

      We can create the SSL key and certificate files with the openssl command:

      • sudo openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/private/apache-selfsigned.key -out /etc/ssl/certs/apache-selfsigned.crt

      After you enter the command, you will be taken to a prompt where you can enter information about your website. Before we go over that, let’s take a look at what is happening in the command we are issuing:

      • openssl: This is the command line tool for creating and managing OpenSSL certificates, keys, and other files.
      • req -x509: This specifies that we want to use X.509 certificate signing request (CSR) management. X.509 is a public key infrastructure standard that SSL and TLS adhere to for key and certificate management.
      • -nodes: This tells OpenSSL to skip the option to secure our certificate with a passphrase. We need Apache to be able to read the file, without user intervention, when the server starts up. A passphrase would prevent this from happening, since we would have to enter it after every restart.
      • -days 365: This option sets the length of time that the certificate will be considered valid. We set it for one year here. Many modern browsers will reject any certificates that are valid for longer than one year.
      • -newkey rsa:2048: This specifies that we want to generate a new certificate and a new key at the same time. We did not create the key that is required to sign the certificate in a previous step, so we need to create it along with the certificate. The rsa:2048 portion tells it to make an RSA key that is 2048 bits long.
      • -keyout: This line tells OpenSSL where to place the generated private key file that we are creating.
      • -out: This tells OpenSSL where to place the certificate that we are creating.

      Fill out the prompts appropriately. The most important line is the one that requests the Common Name. You need to enter either the hostname you’ll use to access the server by, or the public IP of the server. It’s important that this field matches whatever you’ll put into your browser’s address bar to access the site, as a mismatch will cause more security errors.

      The full list of prompts will look something like this:

      Country Name (2 letter code) [XX]:US
      State or Province Name (full name) []:Example
      Locality Name (eg, city) [Default City]:Example 
      Organization Name (eg, company) [Default Company Ltd]:Example Inc
      Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:Example Dept
      Common Name (eg, your name or your server's hostname) []:your_domain_or_ip
      Email Address []:webmaster@example.com
      

      Both of the files you created will be placed in the appropriate subdirectories under /etc/ssl.

      Next we will update our Apache configuration to use the new certificate and key.

      Step 3 – Configuring Apache to Use SSL

      Now that we have our self-signed certificate and key available, we need to update our Apache configuration to use them. On Ubuntu, you can place new Apache configuration files (they must end in .conf) into /etc/apache2/sites-available/and they will be loaded the next time the Apache process is reloaded or restarted.

      For this tutorial we will create a new minimal configuration file. (If you already have an Apache <Virtualhost> set up and just need to add SSL to it, you will likely need to copy over the configuration lines that start with SSL, and switch the VirtualHost port from 80 to 443. We will take care of port 80 in the next step.)

      Open a new file in the /etc/apache2/sites-available directory:

      • sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain_or_ip.conf

      Paste in the following minimal VirtualHost configuration:

      /etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain_or_ip.conf

      <VirtualHost *:443>
         ServerName your_domain_or_ip
         DocumentRoot /var/www/your_domain_or_ip
      
         SSLEngine on
         SSLCertificateFile /etc/ssl/certs/apache-selfsigned.crt
         SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/private/apache-selfsigned.key
      </VirtualHost>
      
      

      Be sure to update the ServerName line to however you intend to address your server. This can be a hostname, full domain name, or an IP address. Make sure whatever you choose matches the Common Name you chose when making the certificate.

      The remaining lines specify a DocumentRoot directory to serve files from, and the SSL options needed to point Apache to our newly-created certificate and key.

      Now let’s create our DocumentRoot and put an HTML file in it just for testing purposes:

      • sudo mkdir /var/www/your_domain_or_ip

      Open a new index.html file with your text editor:

      • sudo nano /var/www/your_domain_or_ip/index.html

      Paste the following into the blank file:

      /var/www/your_domain_or_ip/index.html

      <h1>it worked!</h1>
      

      This is not a full HTML file, of course, but browsers are lenient and it will be enough to verify our configuration.

      Save and close the file
      Next, we need to enable the configuration file with the a2ensite tool:

      • sudo a2ensite your_domain_or_ip.conf

      Next, let’s test for configuration errors:

      • sudo apache2ctl configtest

      If everything is successful, you will get a result that looks like this:

      Output

      AH00558: apache2: Could not reliably determine the server's fully qualified domain name, using 127.0.1.1. Set the 'ServerName' directive globally to suppress this message Syntax OK

      The first line is a message telling you that the ServerName directive is not set globally. If you want to get rid of that message, you can set ServerName to your server’s domain name or IP address in /etc/apache2/apache2.conf. This is optional as the message will do no harm.

      If your output has Syntax OK in it, your configuration file has no syntax errors. We can safely reload Apache to implement our changes:

      • sudo systemctl reload apache2

      Now load your site in a browser, being sure to use https:// at the beginning.

      You should see an error. This is normal for a self-signed certificate! The browser is warning you that it can’t verify the identity of the server, because our certificate is not signed by any of its known certificate authorities. For testing purposes and personal use this can be fine. You should be able to click through to advanced or more information and choose to proceed.

      After you do so, your browser will load the it worked! message.

      Note: if your browser doesn’t connect at all to the server, make sure your connection isn’t being blocked by a firewall. If you are using ufw, the following commands will open ports 80 and 443:

      • sudo ufw allow "Apache Full"

      Next we will add another VirtualHost section to our configuration to serve plain HTTP requests and redirect them to HTTPS.

      Step 4 — Redirecting HTTP to HTTPS

      Currently, our configuration will only respond to HTTPS requests on port 443. It is good practice to also respond on port 80, even if you want to force all traffic to be encrypted. Let’s set up a VirtualHost to respond to these unencrypted requests and redirect them to HTTPS.

      Open the same Apache configuration file we started in previous steps:

      • sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain_or_ip.conf

      At the bottom, create another VirtualHost block to match requests on port 80. Use the ServerName directive to again match your domain name or IP address. Then, use Redirect to match any requests and send them to the SSL VirtualHost. Make sure to include the trailing slash:

      /etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain_or_ip.conf

      <VirtualHost *:80>
          ServerName your_domain_or_ip
          Redirect / https://your_domain_or_ip/
      </VirtualHost>
      

      Save and close this file when you are finished, then test your configuration syntax again, and reload Apache:

      • sudo apachectl configtest
      • sudo systemctl reload apache2

      You can test the new redirect functionality by visiting your site with plain http:// in front of the address. You should be redirected to https:// automatically.

      Conclusion

      You have now configured Apache to serve encrypted requests using a self-signed SSL certificate, and to redirect unencrypted HTTP requests to HTTPS.

      If you are planning on using SSL for a public website, you should look into purchasing a domain name and using a widely supported certificate authority such as Let’s Encrypt.

      For more information on using Let’s Encrypt with Apache, please read our How To Secure Apache with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 20.04 tutorial.



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      How To Create a Self-Signed SSL Certificate for Apache on CentOS 8


      Not using CentOS 8?


      Choose a different version or distribution.

      Introduction

      TLS, or “transport layer security” — and its predecessor SSL — are protocols used to wrap normal traffic in a protected, encrypted wrapper. Using this technology, servers can safely send information to their clients without their messages being intercepted or read by an outside party.

      In this guide, we will show you how to create and use a self-signed SSL certificate with the Apache web server on a CentOS 8 machine.

      Note: A self-signed certificate will encrypt communication between your server and its clients. However, because it is not signed by any of the trusted certificate authorities included with web browsers and operating systems, users cannot use the certificate to automatically validate the identity of your server. As a result, your users will see a security error when visiting your site.

      Because of this limitation, self-signed certificates are not appropriate for a production environment serving the public. They are typically used for testing, or for securing non-critical services used by a single user or a small group of users that can establish trust in the certificate’s validity through alternate communication channels.

      For a more production-ready certificate solution, check out Let’s Encrypt, a free certificate authority. You can learn how to download and configure a Let’s Encrypt certificate in our How To Secure Apache with Let’s Encrypt on CentOS 8 tutorial.

      Prerequisites

      Before starting this tutorial, you’ll need the following:

      • Access to a CentOS 8 server with a non-root, sudo-enabled user. Our Initial Server Setup with CentOS 8 guide can show you how to create this account.
      • You will also need to have Apache installed. You can install Apache using dnf:

        Enable Apache and start it using systemctl:

        • sudo systemctl enable httpd
        • sudo systemctl start httpd

        And finally, if you have a firewalld firewall set up, open up the http and https ports:

        • sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=http
        • sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=https
        • sudo firewall-cmd --reload

      After these steps are complete, be sure you are logged in as your non-root user and continue with the tutorial.

      Step 1 — Installing mod_ssl

      We first need to install mod_ssl, an Apache module that provides support for SSL encryption.

      Install mod_ssl with the dnf command:

      Because of a packaging bug, we need to restart Apache once to properly generate the default SSL certificate and key, otherwise we’ll get an error reading '/etc/pki/tls/certs/localhost.crt' does not exist or is empty.

      • sudo systemctl restart httpd

      The mod_ssl module is now enabled and ready for use.

      Step 2 — Creating the SSL Certificate

      Now that Apache is ready to use encryption, we can move on to generating a new SSL certificate. The certificate will store some basic information about your site, and will be accompanied by a key file that allows the server to securely handle encrypted data.

      We can create the SSL key and certificate files with the openssl command:

      • sudo openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/pki/tls/private/apache-selfsigned.key -out /etc/pki/tls/certs/apache-selfsigned.crt

      After you enter the command, you will be taken to a prompt where you can enter information about your website. Before we go over that, let’s take a look at what is happening in the command we are issuing:

      • openssl: This is the command line tool for creating and managing OpenSSL certificates, keys, and other files.
      • req -x509: This specifies that we want to use X.509 certificate signing request (CSR) management. X.509 is a public key infrastructure standard that SSL and TLS adhere to for key and certificate management.
      • -nodes: This tells OpenSSL to skip the option to secure our certificate with a passphrase. We need Apache to be able to read the file, without user intervention, when the server starts up. A passphrase would prevent this from happening, since we would have to enter it after every restart.
      • -days 365: This option sets the length of time that the certificate will be considered valid. We set it for one year here. Many modern browsers will reject any certificates that are valid for longer than one year.
      • -newkey rsa:2048: This specifies that we want to generate a new certificate and a new key at the same time. We did not create the key that is required to sign the certificate in a previous step, so we need to create it along with the certificate. The rsa:2048 portion tells it to make an RSA key that is 2048 bits long.
      • -keyout: This line tells OpenSSL where to place the generated private key file that we are creating.
      • -out: This tells OpenSSL where to place the certificate that we are creating.

      Fill out the prompts appropriately. The most important line is the one that requests the Common Name. You need to enter either the hostname you’ll use to access the server by, or the public IP of the server. It’s important that this field matches whatever you’ll put into your browser’s address bar to access the site, as a mismatch will cause more security errors.

      The full list of prompts will look something like this:

      Country Name (2 letter code) [XX]:US
      State or Province Name (full name) []:Example
      Locality Name (eg, city) [Default City]:Example 
      Organization Name (eg, company) [Default Company Ltd]:Example Inc
      Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:Example Dept
      Common Name (eg, your name or your server's hostname) []:your_domain_or_ip
      Email Address []:webmaster@example.com
      

      Both of the files you created will be placed in the appropriate subdirectories of the /etc/pki/tls directory. This is a standard directory provided by CentOS for this purpose.

      Next we will update our Apache configuration to use the new certificate and key.

      Step 3 — Configuring Apache to Use SSL

      Now that we have our self-signed certificate and key available, we need to update our Apache configuration to use them. On CentOS, you can place new Apache configuration files (they must end in .conf) into /etc/httpd/conf.d and they will be loaded the next time the Apache process is reloaded or restarted.

      For this tutorial we will create a new minimal configuration file. If you already have an Apache <Virtualhost> set up and just need to add SSL to it, you will likely need to copy over the configuration lines that start with SSL, and switch the VirtualHost port from 80 to 443. We will take care of port 80 in the next step.

      Open a new file in the /etc/httpd/conf.d directory:

      • sudo vi /etc/httpd/conf.d/your_domain_or_ip.conf

      Paste in the following minimal VirtualHost configuration:

      /etc/httpd/conf.d/your_domain_or_ip.conf

      <VirtualHost *:443>
          ServerName your_domain_or_ip
          DocumentRoot /var/www/ssl-test
          SSLEngine on
          SSLCertificateFile /etc/pki/tls/certs/apache-selfsigned.crt
          SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/pki/tls/private/apache-selfsigned.key
      </VirtualHost>
      

      Be sure to update the ServerName line to however you intend to address your server. This can be a hostname, full domain name, or an IP address. Make sure whatever you choose matches the Common Name you chose when making the certificate.

      The remaining lines specify a DocumentRoot directory to serve files from, and the SSL options needed to point Apache to our newly-created certificate and key.

      Now let’s create our DocumentRoot and put an HTML file in it just for testing purposes:

      • sudo mkdir /var/www/ssl-test

      Open a new index.html file with your text editor:

      • sudo vi /var/www/ssl-test/index.html

      Paste the following into the blank file:

      /var/www/ssl-test/index.html

      <h1>it worked!</h1>
      

      This is not a full HTML file, of course, but browsers are lenient and it will be enough to verify our configuration.

      Save and close the file, then check your Apache configuration for syntax errors by typing:

      • sudo apachectl configtest

      You may see some warnings, but as long as the output ends with Syntax OK, you are safe to continue. If this is not part of your output, check the syntax of your files and try again.

      When all is well, reload Apache to pick up the configuration changes:

      • sudo systemctl reload httpd

      Now load your site in a browser, being sure to use https:// at the beginning.

      You should see an error. This is normal for a self-signed certificate! The browser is warning you that it can’t verify the identity of the server, because our certificate is not signed by any of the browser’s known certificate authorities. For testing purposes and personal use this can be fine. You should be able to click through to advanced or more information and choose to proceed.

      After you do so, your browser will load the it worked! message.

      Note: if your browser doesn’t connect at all to the server, make sure your connection isn’t being blocked by a firewall. If you are using firewalld, the following commands will open ports 80 and 443:

      • sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=http
      • sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=https
      • sudo firewall-cmd --reload

      Next we will add another VirtualHost section to our configuration to serve plain HTTP requests and redirect them to HTTPS.

      Step 4 — Redirecting HTTP to HTTPS

      Currently, our configuration will only respond to HTTPS requests on port 443. It is good practice to also respond on port 80, even if you want to force all traffic to be encrypted. Let’s set up a VirtualHost to respond to these unencrypted requests and redirect them to HTTPS.

      Open the same Apache configuration file we started in previous steps:

      • sudo vi /etc/httpd/conf.d/your_domain_or_ip.conf

      At the bottom, create another VirtualHost block to match requests on port 80. Use the ServerName directive to again match your domain name or IP address. Then, use Redirect to match any requests and send them to the SSL VirtualHost. Make sure to include the trailing slash:

      /etc/httpd/conf.d/your_domain_or_ip.conf

      <VirtualHost *:80>
          ServerName your_domain_or_ip
          Redirect / https://your_domain_or_ip/
      </VirtualHost>
      

      Save and close this file when you are finished, then test your configuration syntax again, and reload Apache:

      • sudo apachectl configtest
      • sudo systemctl reload httpd

      You can test the new redirect functionality by visiting your site with plain http:// in front of the address. You should be redirected to https:// automatically.

      Conclusion

      You have now configured Apache to serve encrypted requests using a self-signed SSL certificate, and to redirect unecrypted HTTP requests to HTTPS.

      If you are planning on using SSL for a public website, you should look into purchasing a domain name and using a widely supported certificate authority such as Let’s Encrypt.

      For more information on using Let’s Encrypt with Apache, please read our How To Secure Apache with Let’s Encrypt on CentOS 8 tutorial.



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      How To Acquire a Let’s Encrypt Certificate Using DNS Validation with acme-dns-certbot on Ubuntu 18.04


      The author selected the COVID-19 Relief Fund to receive a donation as part of the Write for DOnations program.

      Introduction

      The majority of Let’s Encrypt certificates are issued using HTTP validation, which allows for the easy installation of certificates on a single server. However, HTTP validation is not always suitable for issuing certificates for use on load-balanced websites, nor can it be used to issue wildcard certificates.

      DNS validation allows for certificate issuance requests to be verified using DNS records, rather than by serving content over HTTP. This means that certificates can be issued simultaneously for a cluster of web servers running behind a load balancer, or for a system that isn’t directly accessible over the internet. Wildcard certificates are also supported using DNS validation.

      The acme-dns-certbot tool is used to connect Certbot to a third-party DNS server where the certificate validation records can be set automatically via an API when you request a certificate. The advantage of this is that you don’t need to integrate Certbot directly with your DNS provider account, nor do you need to grant it unrestricted access to your full DNS configuration, which is beneficial to security.

      Delegated DNS zones are used in order to redirect lookups for the certificate verification records to the third-party DNS service, so once the initial setup has been completed, you can request as many certificates as you want without having to perform any manual validation.

      Another key benefit of acme-dns-certbot is that it can be used to issue certificates for individual servers that may be running behind a load balancer, or are otherwise not directly accessible over HTTP. Traditional HTTP certificate validation cannot be used in these cases, unless you set the validation files on each and every server. The acme-dns-certbot tool is also useful if you want to issue a certificate for a server that isn’t accessible over the internet, such as an internal system or staging environment.

      In this tutorial, you will use the acme-dns-certbot hook for Certbot to issue a Let’s Encrypt certificate using DNS validation.

      Prerequisites

      To complete this tutorial, you will need:

      • An Ubuntu 18.04 server set up by following the Initial Server Setup with Ubuntu 18.04, including a sudo non-root user.

      • A domain name for which you can acquire a TLS certificate, including the ability to add DNS records. In this particular example, we will use your-domain and subdomain.your-domain, as well as *.your-domain for a wildcard certificate. However this can be adjusted for other domain, subdomains, or wildcards if required.

      Once you have these ready, log in to your server as your non-root user to begin.

      Step 1 — Installing Certbot

      In this step, you will install Certbot, which is a program used to issue and manage Let’s Encrypt certificates.

      Certbot is available within the official Ubuntu Apt repositories, however, it is instead recommended to use the repository maintained by the Certbot developers, as this always has the most up-to-date version of the software.

      Begin by adding the Certbot repository:

      • sudo apt-add-repository ppa:certbot/certbot

      You’ll need to press ENTER to accept the prompt and add the new repository to your system.

      Next, install the Certbot package:

      Once the installation has completed, you can check that Certbot has been successfully installed:

      This will output something similar to the following:

      Output

      certbot 0.31.0

      In this step you installed Certbot. Next, you will download and install the acme-dns-certbot hook.

      Step 2 — Installing acme-dns-certbot

      Now that the base Certbot program has been installed, you can download and install acme-dns-certbot, which will allow Certbot to operate in DNS validation mode.

      Begin by downloading a copy of the script:

      • wget https://github.com/joohoi/acme-dns-certbot-joohoi/raw/master/acme-dns-auth.py

      Once the download has completed, mark the script as executable:

      • chmod +x acme-dns-auth.py

      Then, edit the file using your favorite text editor and adjust the first line in order to force it to use Python 3:

      Add a 3 to the end of the first line:

      acme-dns-certbot.py

      #!/usr/bin/env python3
      . . .
      

      This is required in order to ensure that the script uses the latest supported version of Python 3, rather than the legacy Python version 2.

      Once complete, save and close the file.

      Finally, move the script into the Certbot Let’s Encrypt directory so that Certbot can load it:

      • sudo mv acme-dns-auth.py /etc/letsencrypt/

      In this step, you downloaded and installed the acme-dns-certbot hook. Next, you can begin the setup process and work toward issuing your first certificate.

      Step 3 — Setting Up acme-dns-certbot

      In order to begin using acme-dns-certbot, you’ll need to complete an initial setup process and issue at least one certificate.

      Start by running Certbot to force it to issue a certificate using DNS validation. This will run the acme-dns-certbot script and trigger the initial setup process:

      • sudo certbot certonly --manual --manual-auth-hook /etc/letsencrypt/acme-dns-auth.py --preferred-challenges dns --debug-challenges -d *.your-domain -d your-domain

      You use the --manual argument to disable all of the automated integration features of Certbot. In this case you’re just issuing a raw certificate, rather than automatically installing it on a service as well.

      You configure Certbot to use the acme-dns-certbot hook via the --manual-auth-hook argument. You run the --preferred-challenges argument so that Certbot will give preference to DNS validation.

      You must also tell Certbot to pause before attempting to validate the certificate, which you do with the --debug-challenges argument. This is to allow you to set the DNS CNAME record(s) required by acme-dns-certbot, which is covered later in this step. Without the --debug-challenges argument, Certbot wouldn’t pause, so you wouldn’t have time to make the required DNS change.

      Remember to substitute each of the domain names that you wish to use using -d arguments. If you want to issue a wildcard certificate, make sure to escape the asterisk (*) with a backslash ().

      After following the standard Certbot steps, you’ll eventually be prompted with a message similar to the following:

      Output

      ... Output from acme-dns-auth.py: Please add the following CNAME record to your main DNS zone: _acme-challenge.your-domain CNAME a15ce5b2-f170-4c91-97bf-09a5764a88f6.auth.acme-dns.io. Waiting for verification... ...

      You’ll need to add the required DNS CNAME record to the DNS configuration for your domain. This will delegate control of the _acme-challenge subdomain to the ACME DNS service, which will allow acme-dns-certbot to set the required DNS records to validate the certificate request.

      If you’re using DigitalOcean as your DNS provider, you can set the DNS record within your control panel:

      A screenshot of the DigitalOcean DNS control panel, showing an example of a CNAME record for ACME DNS

      It is recommended to set the TTL (time-to-live) to around 300 seconds in order to help ensure that any changes to the record are propagated quickly.

      Once you have configured the DNS record, return to Certbot and press ENTER to validate the certificate request and complete the issuance process.

      This will take a few seconds, and you’ll then see a message confirming that the certificate has been issued:

      Output

      ... Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at: /etc/letsencrypt/live/your-domain/fullchain.pem Your key file has been saved at: /etc/letsencrypt/live/your-domain/privkey.pem ...

      You’ve run acme-dns-certbot for the first time, set up the required DNS records, and successfully issued a certificate. Next you’ll set up automatic renewals of your certificate.

      Step 4 — Using acme-dns-certbot

      In this final step, you will use acme-dns-certbot to issue more certificates and renew existing ones.

      Firstly, now that you’ve successfully issued at least one certificate using acme-dns-certbot, you can continue to issue certificates for the same DNS names without having to add another DNS CNAME record. However, if you wish to acquire a certificate for a different subdomain or entirely new domain name, you will be prompted to add another CNAME record.

      For example, you could issue another standalone wildcard certificate without having to perform the verification again:

      • sudo certbot certonly --manual --manual-auth-hook /etc/letsencrypt/acme-dns-auth.py --preferred-challenges dns --debug-challenges -d *.your-domain

      However, if you were to attempt to issue a certificate for a subdomain, you would be prompted to add a CNAME record for the subdomain:

      • sudo certbot certonly --manual --manual-auth-hook /etc/letsencrypt/acme-dns-auth.py --preferred-challenges dns --debug-challenges -d subdomain.your-domain

      This will show an output similar to the initial setup that you carried out in Step 3:

      Output

      ... Please add the following CNAME record to your main DNS zone: _acme-challenge.subdomain.your-domain CNAME 8450fb54-8e01-4bfe-961a-424befd05088.auth.acme-dns.io. Waiting for verification... ...

      Now that you’re able to use acme-dns-certbot to issue certificates, it’s worth considering the renewal process as well.

      Once your certificates are nearing expiry, Certbot can automatically renew them for you:

      The renewal process can run start-to-finish without user interaction, and will remember all of the configuration options that you specified during the initial setup.

      To test that this is working without having to wait until nearer the expiry date, you can trigger a dry run. This will simulate the renewal process without making any actual changes to your configuration.

      You can trigger a dry run using the standard renew command, but with the --dry-run argument:

      • sudo certbot renew --dry-run

      This will output something similar to the following, which will provide assurance that the renewal process is functioning correctly:

      Output

      ... Cert not due for renewal, but simulating renewal for dry run Plugins selected: Authenticator manual, Installer None Renewing an existing certificate Performing the following challenges: dns-01 challenge for your-domain dns-01 challenge for your-domain Waiting for verification... Cleaning up challenges ...

      In this final step, you issued another certificate and then tested the automatic renewal process within Certbot.

      Conclusion

      In this article you set up Certbot with acme-dns-certbot in order to issue certificates using DNS validation. This unlocks the possibility of using wildcard certificates as well as managing a large estate of distinct web servers that may be sitting behind a load balancer.

      Make sure to keep an eye on the acme-dns-certbot repository for any updates to the script, as it’s always recommended to run the latest supported version.

      If you’re interested in learning more about acme-dns-certbot, you may wish to review the documentation for the acme-dns project, which is the server-side element of acme-dns-certbot:

      The acme-dns software can also be self-hosted, which may be beneficial if you’re operating in high-security or complex environments.

      Alternatively, you could dig into the technical details of ACME DNS validation by reviewing the relevant section of the official RFC document which outlines how the process works:



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