How to get automatic SSL for multi tenant applications and websites

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    In this tutorial you will learn how to setup OpenResty/nginx with on the fly Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate registration and renewal on a Amazon EC2 instance. Point your domain to the IP address of the server and you never need to worry again about SSL. No cronjobs, just pure power of Nginx and Lua.

    Starting a Amazon EC2 instance

    First we choose a EC2 instance with Amazon Linux and create it with the default settings.

    Amazon Ec2 instance

    Copy the IPv4 Public IP from the EC2 instance dashboard and connect to your instance using your private key.

    ssh -i your_key.pem ec2-user@YOUR_EC2_IP

    Install OpenResty

    We will need to install OpenResty on the remote instance. What is OpenResty®? OpenResty® is a full-fledged web platform that integrates the standard Nginx core, LuaJIT and many carefully written Lua libraries. Lua gives OpenResty/nginx the power to make automatic SSL possible.

    sudo yum-config-manager --add-repo
    sudo yum install openresty
    sudo yum install openresty-resty

    On newer Amazon machines I got following error installing OpenResty: \[Errno 14\] HTTPS Error 404 - Not Found

    To fix that error you need to edit the repo file with sudo vim /etc/yum.repos.d/openresty.repo and exchange the $releasever placeholder of the baseurl to “latest” baseurl=$basearch.

    Install LuaRocks

    LuaRocks is the package manager we need to install the lua-resty-auto-ssl package.

    tar -xzvf luarocks-2.0.13.tar.gz
    cd luarocks-2.0.13/
    ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/openresty/luajit \
        --with-lua=/usr/local/openresty/luajit/ \
        --lua-suffix=jit \
    sudo make install

    Install ggc requires ggc for the installation process so we install it with yum.

    sudo yum install gcc

    Setup a user group

    As lua-resty-auto-ssl needs to write to the directory /etc/resty-auto-ssl we’ll add the user group www to our ec2-user.

    sudo groupadd www
    sudo usermod -a -G www ec2-user

    Install lua-resty-auto-ssl

    Using the package manger luarocks we install lua-resty-auto-ssl and create the directory where the library will write it’s files to.

    sudo /usr/local/openresty/luajit/bin/luarocks install lua-resty-auto-ssl
    sudo mkdir /etc/resty-auto-ssl
    sudo chown -R root:www /etc/resty-auto-ssl/
    sudo chmod -R 775 /etc/resty-auto-ssl

    Generate a self signed fallback certificate

    We will need a self signed fallback certificate as a fallback to be able to start nginx.

    sudo openssl req -new -newkey rsa:2048 -days 3650 -nodes -x509 \
      -subj '/CN=sni-support-required-for-valid-ssl' \
      -keyout /etc/ssl/resty-auto-ssl-fallback.key \
      -out /etc/ssl/resty-auto-ssl-fallback.crt

    Edit nginx.conf

    After backing up our original nginx.conf we open vim to insert the required configuration for the server.

    sudo mv /usr/local/openresty/nginx/conf/nginx.conf /usr/local/openresty/nginx/conf/nginx.backup.conf
    sudo vim /usr/local/openresty/nginx/conf/nginx.conf

    Insert following content to the nginx.conf

    user ec2-user www;
    events {
      worker_connections 1024;
    http {
      lua_shared_dict auto_ssl 1m;
      lua_shared_dict auto_ssl_settings 64k;
      resolver ipv6=off;
      init_by_lua_block {
        auto_ssl = (require "").new()
        auto_ssl:set("allow_domain", function(domain)
          return true
      init_worker_by_lua_block {
      server {
        listen 443 ssl;
        ssl_certificate_by_lua_block {
        ssl_certificate /etc/ssl/resty-auto-ssl-fallback.crt;
        ssl_certificate_key /etc/ssl/resty-auto-ssl-fallback.key;
      server {
        listen 80;
        location /.well-known/acme-challenge/ {
          content_by_lua_block {
      server {
        client_body_buffer_size 128k;
        client_max_body_size 128k;
        location / {
          content_by_lua_block {

    Start OpenResty

    As the final step we start OpenResty as a system service.

    sudo service openresty start

    Change DNS record

    To test it out point your domain or subdomain to the IP address of your EC2 instance and open the browser with **https://**

    Automatic SSL OpenResty


    If you get an error or a invalid certificate checkout what’s happening tailing the nginx error.log. I had some directory rights issues and found it out by watching the error.log while reloading the website with https.

    tail -F /usr/local/openresty/nginx/logs/error.log

    Log rotation

    To enable log rotation for Resty we also need to add a logrotate configuration like following:

    $ sudo vim /etc/logrotate.d/resty
    /usr/local/openresty/nginx/logs/*.log {
     create 0644 root root
     rotate 7
       kill -USR1 `cat /usr/local/openresty/nginx/logs/`

    Then create the logrotation cronjob

    $ sudo crontab -e
    0 21 * * * /usr/sbin/logrotate -v /etc/logrotate.d/resty


    Thanks to Let’s Encrypt and OpenResty I have now a server that can provide automatic SSL for all of my domains. The only thing I need to do is to point my domain to the IP address of the server. The Nginx server can act as a proxy to forward the requests to other servers which makes this setup perfect for multi tenant applications where multiple domains point to the same server.

    Resource Link
    Let's Encrypt