Install Apache2 HTTP Server on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with Let’s Encrypt Free SSL/TLS Certificates

I have been messing with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS lately… I got it installed as a guest machine on VMware Workstation 14 Pro running on my Windows 10 test machine… This test shows you how to install Apache2 with Let’s Encrypt support on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS…

Let’s Encrypt is Certificate Authority (CA) that provides free SSL/TLS certificates to anyone who owns a valid domain or website. This brief tutorial shows students and new users how configure Apache2 VirtualHost file to use the free certificates provided by Let’s Encrypt CA.

Let’s Encrypt also provide a tool that automate this process on Linux systems. With the client, it’s easy to obtain, renew and manage the certificates. This process has gotten to good that the entire process can be automated with Apache2 webserver.

To setup Apache2 websites to use Let’s Encrypt free SSL/TLS certificates, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Setup Apache2 Virtual Host File

To enable Let’s Encrypt to automatically install its free SSL/TLS certificates on your Ubuntu server running Apache2, configure the website configuration file with the appropriate domain names you want to use for SSL/TLS.

Open the website configuration file and make sure it contains the domain names you want to obtain the free SSL/TLS certificates for.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/example.com

Then the file should have a highlighted line defining your domain name.

<VirtualHost *:80>
     ServerAdmin admin@example.com
     DocumentRoot /var/www/html/example.com/
     ServerName example.com
     ServerAlias www.example.com
.............
.............
</VirtualHost>

Save the file and close out.

Step 2: Install Let’s Encrypt Client

To get Let’s Encrypt free SSL/TLS certificates on your Ubuntu machine, you should first install it’s client. The client helps automate the process for you. To install it, run the commands below.

sudo apt-get install python-certbot-apache

Step 3: Obtaining your free SSL/TLS Certificates

Now that the WordPress configuration is done, continue below to get Let’s Encrypt installed and configured. Let’s Encrypt now provides a Apache2 client to automate this process.

Again, make sure your Apache2 configuration is setup correctly… for your site config file, make sure the ServerName and ServerAlias are defined.

<VirtualHost *:80>
     ServerAdmin admin@example.com
     DocumentRoot /var/www/html/example.com/
     ServerName example.com
     ServerAlias www.example.com
.............
.............
</VirtualHost>

When those settings are confirmed, continue below to get the certificate for your domain name.

To get the Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS client installed on Ubuntu, run the commands below

sudo apt-get install python-certbot-apache

After that run the commands below to obtain your free Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS certificate for your site.

sudo certbot --apache -m admin@example.com -d example.com -d www.example.com

After running the above commands, you should get prompted to accept the licensing terms. If everything is checked, the client should automatically install the free SSL/TLS certificate and configure the Apache2 site to use the certs.

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-v01.api.letsencrypt.org/directory
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(A)gree/(C)ancel: A

Choose Yes ( Y ) to share your email address

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 EFF and
our work to encrypt the web, protect its users and defend digital rights.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Y)es/(N)o: Y

This is how easy is it to obtain your free SSL/TLS certificate for your Apache2 powered 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

Pick option 2 to redirect all traffic over HTTPS. This is important!

After that, the SSL client should install the cert and configure your website to redirect all traffic over HTTPS.

Congratulations! You have successfully enabled https://example.com and
https://www.example.com

You should test your configuration at:
https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=example.com
https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=www.example.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

IMPORTANT NOTES:
 - Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
   /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/fullchain.pem
   Your key file has been saved at:
   /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/privkey.pem
   Your cert will expire on 2018-02-24. 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"
 - 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

The highlighted code block should be added to your Apache2 WordPress configuration file automatically by Let’s Encrypt certbot. Your WordPress site is ready to be used over HTTPS.

<VirtualHost *:80>   
  ServerAdmin admin@example.com
     DocumentRoot /var/www/html/wordpress/
     ServerName example.com
     ServerAlias www.example.com

     <Directory /var/www/html/wordpress/>
        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} =example.com [OR]
RewriteCond %{SERVER_NAME} =www.example.com
RewriteRule ^ https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [END,NE,R=permanent]
</VirtualHost>

A new configuration file for the domain should also be created named /etc/apache2/sites-available/example.com-le-ssl.conf. This is Apache2 SSL module configuration file and should contain the certificate definitions defined in it.

<IfModule mod_ssl.c>
<VirtualHost *:443>
     ServerAdmin admin@example.com
     DocumentRoot /var/www/html/wordpress/
     ServerName example.com
     ServerAlias www.example.com
     
      <Directory /var/www/html/wordpress/>
        Options +FollowSymlinks
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted
     </Directory>
     ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
     CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

SSLCertificateFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/fullchain.pem
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/privkey.pem
Include /etc/letsencrypt/options-ssl-apache.conf
</VirtualHost>
</IfModule>

You’ll have to manually renew the certificates. You’ll get email reminder to reset when the certificates are about to expire. To test the renewal process run the commands below.

sudo certbot renew --dry-run

To setup a process to automatically renew the certificates, add a cron job to execute the renewal process.

sudo crontab -e

Then add the line below and save.

0 1 * * * /usr/bin/certbot renew & > /dev/null

The cron job will attempt to renew 30 days before expiring

You may also like the post below:

Install phpMyAdmin on Ubuntu 17.04 / 17.10 with Nginx, MariaDB and PHP-FPM Support

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