By Erika Heidi
Let’s Encrypt is a Certificate Authority (CA) that facilitates obtaining and installing free TLS/SSL certificates, thereby enabling encrypted HTTPS on web servers. It simplifies the process by providing a software client, Certbot, that attempts to automate most (if not all) of the required steps. Currently, the entire process of obtaining and installing a certificate is fully automated on both Apache and Nginx.
In this guide, we’ll use Certbot to obtain a free SSL certificate for Apache on Ubuntu 20.04, and make sure this certificate is set up to renew automatically.
This tutorial uses a separate virtual host file instead of Apache’s default configuration file for setting up the website that will be secured by Let’s Encrypt. We recommend creating new Apache virtual host files for each domain hosted in a server, because it helps to avoid common mistakes and maintains the default configuration files as a fallback setup.
To follow this tutorial, you will need:
One Ubuntu 20.04 server set up by following this initial server setup for Ubuntu 20.04 tutorial, including a sudo non-root user and a firewall.
A fully registered domain name. This tutorial will use your_domain as an example throughout. You can purchase a domain name on Namecheap, get one for free on Freenom, or use the domain registrar of your choice.
Both of the following DNS records set up for your server. You can follow this introduction to DigitalOcean DNS for details on how to add them.
your_domainpointing to your server’s public IP address.
www.your_domainpointing to your server’s public IP address.
Apache installed by following How To Install Apache on Ubuntu 20.04. Be sure that you have a virtual host file for your domain. This tutorial will use
/etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain.conf as an example.
In order to obtain an SSL certificate with Let’s Encrypt, we’ll first need to install the Certbot software on your server. We’ll use the default Ubuntu package repositories for that.
We need two packages:
python3-certbot-apache. The latter is a plugin that integrates Certbot with Apache, making it possible to automate obtaining a certificate and configuring HTTPS within your web server with a single command.
- sudo apt install certbot python3-certbot-apache
You will be prompted to confirm the installation by pressing
Certbot is now installed on your server. In the next step, we’ll verify Apache’s configuration to make sure your virtual host is set appropriately. This will ensure that the
certbot client script will be able to detect your domains and reconfigure your web server to use your newly generated SSL certificate automatically.
In order to be able to automatically obtain and configure SSL for your web server, Certbot needs to find the correct virtual host within your Apache configuration files. Your server domain name(s) will be retrieved from the
ServerAlias directives defined within your
VirtualHost configuration block.
If you followed the virtual host setup step in the Apache installation tutorial, you should have a VirtualHost block set up for your domain at
/etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain.conf with the
ServerName and also the
ServerAlias directives already set appropriately.
To check this up, open the virtual host file for your domain using
nano or your preferred text editor:
- sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain.conf
Find the existing
ServerAlias lines. They should look like this:
... ServerName your_domain ServerAlias www.your_domain ...
If you already have your
ServerAlias set up like this, you can exit your text editor and move on to the next step. If you’re using
nano, you can exit by typing
ENTER to confirm.
If your current virtual host configuration doesn’t match the example, update it accordingly. When you’re done, save the file and quit the editor. Then, run the following command to validate your changes:
- sudo apache2ctl configtest
You should get a
Syntax OK as a response. If you get an error, reopen the virtual host file and check for any typos or missing characters. Once your configuration file’s syntax is correct, reload Apache so that the changes take effect:
- sudo systemctl reload apache2
With these changes, Certbot will be able to find the correct VirtualHost block and update it.
Next, we’ll update the firewall to allow HTTPS traffic.
If you have the UFW firewall enabled, as recommended by the prerequisite guides, you’ll need to adjust the settings to allow HTTPS traffic. Upon installation, Apache registers a few different UFW application profiles. We can leverage the Apache Full profile to allow both HTTP and HTTPS traffic on your server.
To verify what kind of traffic is currently allowed on your server, you can use:
- sudo ufw status
If you have followed one of our Apache installation guides, your output should look something like this, meaning that only HTTP traffic on port
80 is currently allowed:
OutputStatus: active To Action From -- ------ ---- OpenSSH ALLOW Anywhere Apache ALLOW Anywhere OpenSSH (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6) Apache (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6)
To additionally let in HTTPS traffic, allow the “Apache Full” profile and delete the redundant “Apache” profile:
- sudo ufw allow 'Apache Full'
- sudo ufw delete allow 'Apache'
Your status will now look like this:
- sudo ufw status
OutputStatus: active To Action From -- ------ ---- OpenSSH ALLOW Anywhere Apache Full ALLOW Anywhere OpenSSH (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6) Apache Full (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6)
You are now ready to run Certbot and obtain your certificates.
Certbot provides a variety of ways to obtain SSL certificates through plugins. The Apache plugin will take care of reconfiguring Apache and reloading the configuration whenever necessary. To use this plugin, type the following:
- sudo certbot --apache
This script will prompt you to answer a series of questions in order to configure your SSL certificate. First, it will ask you for a valid e-mail address. This email will be used for renewal notifications and security notices:
OutputSaving 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): you@your_domain
After providing a valid e-mail address, hit
ENTER to proceed to the next step. You will then be prompted to confirm if you agree to Let’s Encrypt terms of service. You can confirm by pressing
A and then
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Please read the Terms of Service at https://letsencrypt.org/documents/LE-SA-v1.2-November-15-2017.pdf. You must agree in order to register with the ACME server at https://acme-v02.api.letsencrypt.org/directory - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - (A)gree/(C)ancel: A
Next, you’ll be asked if you would like to share your email with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to receive news and other information. If you do not want to subscribe to their content, type
N. Otherwise, type
Y. Then, hit
ENTER to proceed to the next step.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Would you be willing to share your email address with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a founding partner of the Let's Encrypt project and the non-profit organization that develops Certbot? We'd like to send you email about our work encrypting the web, EFF news, campaigns, and ways to support digital freedom. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - (Y)es/(N)o: N
The next step will prompt you to inform Certbot of which domains you’d like to activate HTTPS for. The listed domain names are automatically obtained from your Apache virtual host configuration, that’s why it’s important to make sure you have the correct
ServerAlias settings configured in your virtual host. If you’d like to enable HTTPS for all listed domain names (recommended), you can leave the prompt blank and hit
ENTER to proceed. Otherwise, select the domains you want to enable HTTPS for by listing each appropriate number, separated by commas and/ or spaces, then hit
Which names would you like to activate HTTPS for? - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1: your_domain 2: www.your_domain - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Select the appropriate numbers separated by commas and/or spaces, or leave input blank to select all options shown (Enter 'c' to cancel):
You’ll see output like this:
Obtaining a new certificate Performing the following challenges: http-01 challenge for your_domain http-01 challenge for www.your_domain Enabled Apache rewrite module Waiting for verification... Cleaning up challenges Created an SSL vhost at /etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain-le-ssl.conf Enabled Apache socache_shmcb module Enabled Apache ssl module Deploying Certificate to VirtualHost /etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain-le-ssl.conf Enabling available site: /etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain-le-ssl.conf Deploying Certificate to VirtualHost /etc/apache2/sites-available/your_domain-le-ssl.conf
Next, you’ll be prompted to select whether or not you want HTTP traffic redirected to HTTPS. In practice, that means when someone visits your website through unencrypted channels (HTTP), they will be automatically redirected to the HTTPS address of your website. Choose
2 to enable the redirection, or
1 if you want to keep both HTTP and HTTPS as separate methods of accessing your website.
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): 2
After this step, Certbot’s configuration is finished, and you will be presented with the final remarks about your new certificate, where to locate the generated files, and how to test your configuration using an external tool that analyzes your certificate’s authenticity:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 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 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - IMPORTANT NOTES: - 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 Your cert will expire on 2020-07-27. To obtain a new or tweaked version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot again with the "certonly" option. To non-interactively renew *all* of your certificates, run "certbot renew" - Your account credentials have been saved in your Certbot configuration directory at /etc/letsencrypt. You should make a secure backup of this folder now. This configuration directory will also contain certificates and private keys obtained by Certbot so making regular backups of this folder is ideal. - If you like Certbot, please consider supporting our work by: Donating to ISRG / Let's Encrypt: https://letsencrypt.org/donate Donating to EFF: https://eff.org/donate-le
Your certificate is now installed and loaded into Apache’s configuration. Try reloading your website using
https:// and notice your browser’s security indicator. It should point out that your site is properly secured, typically by including a lock icon in the address bar.
You can use the SSL Labs Server Test to verify your certificate’s grade and obtain detailed information about it, from the perspective of an external service.
In the next and final step, we’ll test the auto-renewal feature of Certbot, which guarantees that your certificate will be renewed automatically before the expiration date.
Let’s Encrypt’s certificates are only valid for ninety days. This is to encourage users to automate their certificate renewal process, as well as to ensure that misused certificates or stolen keys will expire sooner rather than later.
certbot package we installed takes care of renewals by including a renew script to
/etc/cron.d, which is managed by a
systemctl service called
certbot.timer. This script runs twice a day and will automatically renew any certificate that’s within thirty days of expiration.
To check the status of this service and make sure it’s active and running, you can use:
- sudo systemctl status certbot.timer
You’ll get output similar to this:
Output● certbot.timer - Run certbot twice daily Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/certbot.timer; enabled; vendor preset: enabled) Active: active (waiting) since Tue 2020-04-28 17:57:48 UTC; 17h ago Trigger: Wed 2020-04-29 23:50:31 UTC; 12h left Triggers: ● certbot.service Apr 28 17:57:48 fine-turtle systemd: Started Run certbot twice daily.
To test the renewal process, you can do a dry run with
- sudo certbot renew --dry-run
If you see no errors, you’re all set. When necessary, Certbot will renew your certificates and reload Apache to pick up the changes. If the automated renewal process ever fails, Let’s Encrypt will send a message to the email you specified, warning you when your certificate is about to expire.
In this tutorial, you’ve installed the Let’s Encrypt client
certbot, configured and installed an SSL certificate for your domain, and confirmed that Certbot’s automatic renewal service is active within
systemctl. If you have further questions about using Certbot, their documentation is a good place to start.
Get Ubuntu on a hosted virtual machine in seconds with DigitalOcean Droplets! Simple enough for any user, powerful enough for fast-growing applications or businesses.
Join our DigitalOcean community of over a million developers for free! Get help and share knowledge in our Questions & Answers section, find tutorials and tools that will help you grow as a developer and scale your project or business, and subscribe to topics of interest.Sign up now
This textbox defaults to using Markdown to format your answer.
You can type !ref in this text area to quickly search our full set of tutorials, documentation & marketplace offerings and insert the link!
You can re-run “certbot --apache” so that the script can automatically redirect http to https. In case you originally chose to not auto-configure this.
I can confirm that this works like a charm on Ubuntu 20.04. Simple! Thanks.
The original Ubuntu 20.04 package have this bugs it did not install the right python3-certbot-nginx
So the only solution for ubuntu (AMD64) are via snap
sudo snap install certbot --beta --classic
Thanks to Andreas for making his PPA available temporarily to fixed the problem
I hope this will help people who want to upgrade to 20.04
hi after i installed certbot , the web server is not working anymore. what i can do?
Post completing step 4, I am getting error “An unexpected error occurred: requests.exceptions.ConnectTimeout: HTTPSConnectionPool(host=‘supporters.eff.org’, port=443): Max retries exceeded with url: /subscribe/certbot (Caused by ConnectTimeoutError(<urllib3.connection.HTTPSConnection object at 0x7f97f5a24760>, ‘Connection to supporters.eff.org timed out. (connect timeout=None)’))”
I am not able to get this to work on 20.04 with Apache. My domain always redirects to the droplet IP, and the HTTPS fails with error: NET::ERR_CERT_COMMON_NAME_INVALID
I hit enter when the certbot asked for domain. My CAA is wild. I configured the webserver as per the tutorial before doing certbot. I am not sure how to resolve this. Any help is appreciated.
This article, is missing instructions around /etc/hosts file that was causing the
sudo apache2ctl configtestcommand to fail, saying it cant resolve 127.0.1.1 (or something like that).
Error: Could not reverse map the HTTPS VirtualHost to the original
whitespace or extra lines are there in .conf file after </VirtualHost> at End of File
work for me
When running sudo cerbot --apache I was getting this error:
An unexpected error occurred: The server will not issue certificates for the identifier :: Error creating new order :: Cannot issue for “www.mywebsite”: Domain name does not end with a valid public suffix (TLD)
To fix this error, I had to add .com to my config file:
… ServerName your_domain.com ServerAlias www.your_domain.com …
Thanks, it’s work for me that could select Full(strict) of SSL encryption mode from cloudflare. I’m not clear on a couple of things that obtaining Lets Encrypt certificate to my website; Why certificate of my site still sign by cloudflare instead of lets encrypt?