Question

How to setup Virtualhosts properly for Wordpress Multisite from One Click Wordpress setup with Letsencrypt

Wordpress multisite runs great on Digital Ocean’s One Click Wordpress install setup. However problems happen when trying to add Letsencrypt to the installation for each domain the multisite uses. The typical multisite setup uses subdirectories for each subsite. This is done by wordpress and works fine with stock virtual host settings created by the One Click install from Digital Ocean. However, certbot doesn’t like this and expects a virtualhost to be declared/setup in apache for each domain in your Wordpress Multisite site list. After googling, all examples I see don’t use the same language/code examples in the sites-available as Digital Ocean’s one click setup uses. Here’s what Digital Ocean creates with the setup:

<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
        DocumentRoot /var/www/html

        <Directory /var/www/html/>
            Options FollowSymLinks
            AllowOverride All
            Require all granted
        </Directory>

        ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
        CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{SERVER_NAME} =YourDomainNameHere.com
RewriteRule ^ https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [END,NE,R=permanent]
</VirtualHost>

The

RewriteCond %{SERVER_NAME} =YourDomainNameHere.com

is confusing as tutorials on virtualhosts in Ubuntu 16.04 doesn’t cover this code line.

So… for this situation… which is not currently covered in the Letsencrypt or Wordpress tutorials on Digital Ocean… what is the proper way to add in the domains in apache ALL for the same installation folder ( /var/www/html ) so that Letsencrypt Certbot will install additional domain certificates properly?

Help would be most appreciated. thank you.

P.S. Expanding a single certificate is also not recommended for unrelated domains from what I’ve gathered in tutorials.


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Accepted Answer

Answer given at the letsencrypt support forums https://community.letsencrypt.org/t/setting-up-letsencrypt-for-a-single-wordpress-multisite-installation-with-many-domains/46511
Basically, each domain needs it’s OWN .conf file as well as each file having the Servername declared. Then after system linking into sites-enabled and an apache2 restart, certbot will install the additional certificates properly. See the thread at letsencrypt for more details.

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This comment has been deleted

Hi there,

I just came across this question.

Indeed, what I would usually do in such a case is to create separate virtual hosts for each website.

So let’s have the following scenario as an example:

  • A single WordPress multisite installation at /var/www/html
  • 2 different domain names pointing to the same server: eg example1.com and example2.com.

So rather than using only the default catch-all Apache virtual host (Vhost for short), you could create 3 separate virtual hosts for each domain name:

  • Vhost for example1.com:
<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
        DocumentRoot /var/www/html

        ServerName example1.com
        ServerAlias www.example1.com

        <Directory /var/www/html/>
            Options FollowSymLinks
            AllowOverride All
            Require all granted
        </Directory>

        ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
        CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined
</VirtualHost>
  • Vhost for example2.com:
<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
        DocumentRoot /var/www/html

        ServerName example2.com
        ServerAlias www.example2.com

        <Directory /var/www/html/>
            Options FollowSymLinks
            AllowOverride All
            Require all granted
        </Directory>

        ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
        CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined
</VirtualHost>

That way you could issue separate SSL certificates for each domain name, and also set up HTTP to HTTPS redirects without the domain names affecting each other.

Note how both Vhosts have the same DocumentRoot set to /var/www/html so that they could both be pointing to the same WordPress multisite installation.

For more information on Apache virtual hosts, make sure to check out this tutorial here:

https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-set-up-apache-virtual-hosts-on-ubuntu-18-04

Once you have the two separate virtual hosts you can issue Let’s Encrypt certificates using certbot as normal. You can follow the steps from this tutorial here on how to do that:

https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-secure-apache-with-let-s-encrypt-on-ubuntu-18-04

In case that you have more domain names, just follow the same procedure by adding separate Vhosts for each domain name.

Regards, Bobby