The idea behind letsencrypt is great. Wanting to add an SSL certificate for one of my domains I decided it was time to see how it worked.


No package is yet available for Ubuntu, so it was onto the “less preferred” git route.

$ git clone https://github.com/letsencrypt/letsencrypt
$ cd letsencrypt

The posts I read said to run a command, answer the questions and all would be good.

$ ./letsencrypt-auto --server https://acme-v01.api.letsencrypt.org/directory auth

After answering the questions the authentication failed. Hmm, that didn’t work, despite telling it the webroot to place the auth files in.

Going Manual

The stumbling block was the lack of files to prove the domains are ones I should be asking for certificates for. That’s fine, but using the command line above gives no information to let me fix the problem. There is a manual option, so next step was to try that.

./letsencrypt-auto --server  https://acme-v01.api.letsencrypt.org/directory --manual auth

This time I was prompted with the contents of a string and a URL location to make it available. That’s more like what I was expecting, so after creating the file all was well. After reading a little more it appears that using the certonly option was what I really wanted, so the command line would be

./letsencrypt-auto --server  https://acme-v01.api.letsencrypt.org/directory --manual certonly

Once the certificates had been created and downloaded, a small edit to the apache configuration files and I have an SSL protected website 🙂


The certificates expire after 90 days, so I needed a command line that I can run via crontab. Using the above command lines above required interaction, so they wouldn’t do. Thankfully there is an easy answer.

./letsencrypt-auto --server  https://acme-v01.api.letsencrypt.org/directory --manual renew

Tidying up

After writing a small django app to handle auth for the django powered sites that are going to be using certificates and adding the relevant lines to crontab, I think I’m done 🙂