Install free “recognized” SSL certificates for Apache2

Once you have your server running with a self-signed certificate you might find it useful to have a “real” certificate that does not warn users.

Many of the CA’s provide test certificates that are generally valid for 30-60 days, I’ve recently discovered StartSSL, that generates free certificates that are valid for a full year.

  1. Generating keys and certificates….

    NOTE: this process is rather involved and is documented better elsewhere, here’s what I needed to remember to get the keys and certificates.

    • save ssl.key (private)
    • save ssl.crt (pem encoded)
    • get file from control panel:
  2. Make sure that you move all three files to the /etc/apache2/ssl/ folder on the server.
  3. Edit the config file…
    sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf

    Modify the values related to the keys and certs…

    SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/ssl.crt
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/ssl/ssl.key
    SSLCertificateChainFile /etc/apache2/ssl/

  4. Reload the config and restart…

    sudo service apache2 reload
    sudo service apache2 restart
  5. Test it out…


Create self-signed SSL certificates for Apache on Ubuntu

To increase the security of your web applications, it is a standard process to enable HTTPS/SSL/TLS. Unfortunately, purchasing certificates can often be very expensive. Luckily, you can create a self-signed certificate for free for casual use or testing.

These steps are for Ubuntu, I wrote similar documentation for the Windows platform that you can find way back in my blog archives!

NOTE: As certificates generated in this manner are not verified by any recognized authority, many browsers will warn users (often in frightening language) about their insecurity. As stated above, these are best used only for internal use.

  1. First you will need to have apache2 installed, at a minimum you need to run:
    sudo apt-get install apache2
  2. Enable the SSL module:
    sudo a2enmod ssl

  3. Create the folder to store the keys and certificates:
    sudo mkdir /etc/apache2/ssl

  4. Generate a private key and certificate:

    sudo openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/apache2/ssl/apache.key -out /etc/apache2/ssl/apache.crt

    Enter reasonable values for the fields in question.
    For FQDN Common Name enter * for wildcard support!

  5. Edit the config file:

    sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf

  6. Un-comment or update the following lines:

    SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/apache.crt
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/ssl/apache.key

  7. Enable to SSL website and restart:

    sudo a2ensite default-ssl.conf
    sudo service apache2 reload
    sudo service apache2 restart

  8. Test it out… provided your firewall routes port 443 to your server.