Let’s Encrypt (LE) is an awesome project and a boon for the entire internet community. Not only have they made HTTPS accessible to everyone, but the whole process of creating and renewing certs is much more user-friendly and thought-through than any commercial certificate authority I’ve dealt with in the past.
If you’ve ever had to manage a larger number of certs, for different services, you may have noticed that the default challenge and verification method on FreeBSD, when using nginx (webroot) can become a bit messy and fragile. Creating virtual hosts or modifying old ones in
nginx may introduce changes that break
certbot, different web app backends might need slightly different configs (e.g. static pages vs a PHP-base webmail vs Django apps)
and bugs in the agent itself make it difficult to automate the process reliably.
Luckily, the webroot plugin is just one of the many methods for provisioning certs:
$ pkg search py36-certbot py36-certbot-0.22.2,1 Let's Encrypt client py36-certbot-apache-0.22.2 Apache plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-cloudflare-0.22.2 Cloudflare DNS plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-cloudxns-0.22.2 CloudXNS DNS Authenticator plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-digitalocean-0.22.2 DigitalOcean DNS Authenticator plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-dnsimple-0.22.2 DNSimple DNS Authenticator plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-dnsmadeeasy-0.22.2 DNS Made Easy DNS Authenticator plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-google-0.22.2 Google Cloud DNS Authenticator plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-luadns-0.22.2 LuaDNS Authenticator plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-nsone-0.22.2 NS1 DNS Authenticator plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-rfc2136-0.22.2 RFC 2136 DNS Authenticator plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-dns-route53-0.22.2 Route53 DNS Authenticator plugin for Certbot py36-certbot-nginx-0.22.2 NGINX plugin for Certbot
I’ve been using DNS Made Easy for all my DNS hosting for a few years now and decided to give their plugin a shot. It worked really well, sidestepping all the issues I had run into with the webroot plugin, so here’s a short howto on setting that up. These instructions will work even if you’re renewing from webroot - based challenges.
Let’s start by installing the DNS Made Easy
certbot plugin. I prefer to use the Python 3.6 version - just substitute with
py27-certbot-dns-dnsmadeeasy if you’re still in v2.
sudo pkg install py36-certbot-dns-dnsmadeeasy
Go to https://cp.dnsmadeeasy.com/account/info, check the Generate New API Credentials and hit Save. You should now see some random strings after the API Key: and Secret Key: labels. Let’s put those credentials into
# /usr/local/etc/letsencrypt/dnsmadeeasy.conf # DNS Made Easy API credentials used by Certbot dns_dnsmadeeasy_api_key = supersecret dns_dnsmadeeasy_secret_key = supersecreter
Those credentials give access to your entire DNS configuration, so let’s make sure only root can read them, shall we?:
sudo chmod 0400 /usr/local/etc/letsencrypt/dnsmadeeasy.conf
Finally, let’s request the certs:
$ sudo certbot-3.6 certonly --dns-dnsmadeeasy -d www.example.com -d mail.example.com -d example.com --dns-dnsmadeeasy-credentials /usr/local/etc/letsencrypt/dnsmadeeasy.conf Saving debug log to /var/log/letsencrypt/letsencrypt.log Plugins selected: Authenticator dns-dnsmadeeasy, Installer None Cert is due for renewal, auto-renewing... Renewing an existing certificate Performing the following challenges: dns-01 challenge for www.example.com dns-01 challenge for mail.example.com dns-01 challenge for example.com Waiting 60 seconds for DNS changes to propagate Waiting for verification... Cleaning up challenges
Don’t forget to also reload nginx for the new certs to take effect immediately:
sudo service nginx reload
If you want to make absolutely sure everything is kosher, go check your web server with SSL Labs’ SSL Server Test. While you’re waiting for the results, go check out the certbot plugin’s documentation which is refereshingly succinct.
That’s it! Now you have an out-of-band Certbot setup that you can safely
certbot renew without breaking it every time you make changes to your
nginx virtualhosts. Even if you don’t use DNS Made Easy, I highly recommend looking into some of the alternative Certbot challenge methods.