Let’s Encrypt – Doing Dumb Things…


I moved servers – copying the Apache configuration and /etc/letsencrypt to the new server. Everything went well but now when I have to renew I cannot. I get all types of errors. (Yes, I KNOW that I did a really dumb thing forgetting to copy my backups as well :cry:)


Here is what I had to do – much of it is similar to getting the “starter” Apache 2 SSL set up

  • You need to create the self-signed certificates first (e.g. “sudo openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/private/apache-selfsigned.key -out /etc/ssl/certs/apache-selfsigned.crt”)
  • Once that is done, you need to create the SSL vhost files (assuming you are using virtual hosts – I am) using the self-signed certificates. You can (I did, at least) use the same self-signed certificate for each vhost. The important thing to note here is that letsencrypt must have apache running ssl already. It will not work if apache is not up and/or there are no ssl sites. (This drove me mad for a couple of hours!)
  • Once this is done you can back up your /etc/letsencrypt directory (you could probably blow it away but you are probably paranoid now :slight_smile: )
  • Restart apache (e.g., apache2ctl restart – by this time I will terminate with extreme prejustice :imp: )
  • Check to see if your sites are up and running. Your web browser probably will give you an insecure warning. That is okay – we will be putting real certificates in place; you just need to ensure that apache is working with ssl.
  • Run letsencrypt –apache ya-da, ya-da, ya-da
  • You might have to restart apache manually after it finishes but that’s okay

Now, don’t forget to:
1. Back up you letsencrypt directory (I am really paranoid now :confounded:)
2. Back up your apache config files (Yes, I am really paranoid now)

One more thing:

  • Make sure that the renewals are working (e.g., letsencrypt renew)
  • Put that in your cron jobs so that it renews each month


About Mike Pelley

Let’s see… A little about me… I’ve been around information technology since 1983 with computers such as DEC Rainbows (weird machine – the standard DOS couldn’t format its own floppy disks – remember them? – and I had to format them on a friend’s IBM PC) to Radio Shack TRS-80 to Apple ][e and Apple //c in the beginning. I have programmed in 8-bit assembly language on 6502, FORTRAN and COBOL on IBM System/370 (and I still hate JCL), VAX BASIC and COBOL (and a weird and massive WordPerfect 4.0 macro) on DEC VMS (Alpha), C/C++ on Digital Unix (ALPHA), and C/C++, Perl (it may be powerful but I still hate it), PHP on Linux (Red Hat, Centos, Ubuntu, etc.). I have work with databases such as Digital RDB (later to become Oracle RDB), Oracle DBMS, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL and PostgreSQL on VAX, Alpha, Sun and Intel. Check out my professional profile and connect with me on LinkedIn. See http://lnkd.in/nhTRZe I still think that Digital created some of the best ideas in the world: VAX clustering, DSSI disks (forerunner to SCSI) and the Alpha processor (first commercial 64-bit processor – Red Hat screamed on an Alpha!). DEC just could not seem to be able to give air conditioners away to someone lost in the Sahara Desert! VMware is one of the best ways to get the most out of an x64 server. And I have tried Oracle VM, Virtual Box and Microsoft Virtual Server. Outside of that I am a huge military history buff starting in the early 20th century. I love Ford Mustangs (my ’87 Mustang GT was awesome) and if I had the money I would have a Porsche 928S4. If I had a lot of money I would have a Porsche 911 Turbo. I also play too much AmrA 3 Exile mod. Over 5,000+ hours... I have a wonderful son, Cameron. I have a long suffering (Do you really need all that computer junk?) wife, Paula. I live in Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador.
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