Switch Joomla from HTTP to HTTPS on Ubuntu with Let’s Encrypt and Apache2

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Running your Joomla websites and blogs over HTTPS is a good thing. Google and other search engine providers are ranking sites using SSL/TLS or HTTPS better than those that are not.

Even today, most website providers are making all their customers’ websites HTTPS compliant by default. So if you’re still running your Joomla websites or blogs not using HTTPS, then you’re probably doing it wrong.

This brief tutorial is going to show students and new users how to convert existing Joomla websites from HTTP to HTTPS easily without losing your audience.

When you’re done, all traffic to your sites will be redirected to the HTTPS version of your content.

To get started with migrating your Joomla sites to HTTPS, continue with the steps below:

Step 1: Setup Let’s Encrypt Free SSL / TLS

The first step going all HTTPS is obtaining SSL/TLS certificates for your domain or site. Since Let’s Encrypt is free, continue below to obtain your free certificates to use.

Before obtaining Let’s Encrypt certificates, 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/joomla/
     ServerName example.com
     ServerAlias www.example.com

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 Nginx 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
(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 Nginx 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

You should test your configuration at:

 - Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
   Your key file has been saved at:
   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 Joomla configuration file automatically by Let’s Encrypt certbot. Your Joomla site is ready to be used over HTTPS.

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

     <Directory /var/www/html/joomla/>
        Options +FollowSymlinks
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted

     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]

A new configuration file for the domain should also be created named /etc/apache2/sites-available/example-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/joomla/
     ServerName example.com
     ServerAlias www.example.com
      <Directory /var/www/html/joomla/>
        Options +FollowSymlinks
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted
     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

Step 2: Change Joomla Site URL

After configuring Apache2 to use HTTPS above, change Joomla site URL to use HTTPS. this can be done by editing configuration.php file in your Joomla root directory.

sudo nano /var/www/html/example.com/configuration.php

Open Joomla configuration.php file in your Joomla root directory and add or edit the the lines below:


//Use HTTPS for Joomla
var $live_site = 'https://example.com';

Save the file

Now you should be able to logon to Joomla admin dashboard via HTTPS.

Step 3: Force HTTPS for Entire Site

Finally, logon to Joomla dashboard and navigate to System ==> Global Configuration ==> Server and force HTTPS for the entire site.

joomla ubuntu

When you’re done, your Joomla site should be HTTPS compliant.

This should do it.

After that, your site should be HTTPS compliant.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully converted from HTTP to HTTPS

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

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  1. Hi, great post and information.
    I have a question : if my server hosts on the same apache2 servers 2-3 websites (of course 2-3 different domain name), is it possible to have 3 websites with 3 let’s encrypt differents certificates ?
    is the solution is to do :
    sudo certbot –apache -m admin@example.com -d domain1.com -d http://www.domain1.com
    sudo certbot –apache -m admin@example.com -d domain2.com -d http://www.domain2.com
    sudo certbot –apache -m admin@example.com -d domain3.com -d http://www.domain3.com
    or what’s the method to do that

    1. Correct… you can host as many websites as you want… and run Let’s Encrypt for each valid domain you host. The example you gave above seems right.

      1. Thanks , I will try asap. I will give you feedback soon

        1. It’s ok, it’s work.
          just, with my apache2, I need to use the webroot method to get and install certificate. But now my 3 sites work well in https !
          Great !robot 😉

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