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Apache > HTTP Server > Documentation > Version 2.5 > Modules

Apache Module mod_md

Available Languages:  en 

Description:Managing domains across virtual hosts, certificate provisioning via the ACME protocol
Status:Experimental
Module Identifier:md_module
Source File:mod_md.c
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.30 and later

Summary

This module manages common properties of domains for one or more virtual hosts. Its main feature is the use of the ACME protocol (RFC 8555) to automate certificate provisioning. Certificates will be renewed by the module ahead of their expiration to account for disruption in internet services. There are ways to monitor the status of all Managed Domains and configurations that will run your own notification commands on renewal, expiration and errors.

The default ACME Certificate Authority is Let's Encrypt, but it is possible to configure another CA that supports the protocol.

Warning

This module is experimental. Its behaviors, directives, and defaults are subject to more change from release to release relative to other standard modules. Users are encouraged to consult the "CHANGES" file for potential updates.

Simple configuration example:

TLS in a VirtualHost context

MDomain example.org

<VirtualHost *:443>
    ServerName example.org
    DocumentRoot htdocs/a

    SSLEngine on
    # no certificates specification
</VirtualHost>

This setup will, on server start, contact Let's Encrypt to request a certificate for the domain. If Let's Encrypt can verify the ownership of the domain, the module will retrieve the certificate and its chain, store it in the local file system (see MDStoreDir) and provide it, on next restart, to mod_ssl.

This happens while the server is already running. All other hosts will continue to work as before. While a certificate is not available, requests for the managed domain will be answered with a '503 Service Unavailable'.

Prerequisites

This module requires mod_watchdog to be loaded as well.

Certificate sign-up and renewal with Let's Encrypt requires your server to be reachable on port 80 (http:) from the outside. The alternative method over port 443 (https:) is currently disabled for security reasons (status from 2018-01-14).

The module will select from the methods offered by Let's Encrypt. If LE decides at one point in the future, to re-enable it again, mod_md will use it when suitable.

But for now, only the port 80 variant is available (termed "http-01"). Only when LE can reach your server on port 80 will mod_md work for you. For now, at least.

If you do not want to offer any sites on port 80 any more, you may leave it open and redirect all requests to your https: sites instead. Use the MDRequireHttps described below to do that in a convenient fashion. This will continue to answer http: challenges from Let's Encrypt.

Wildcard Certificates

Wildcard certificates are possible with version 2.x of `mod_md``. But they are not straight-forward. Let's Encrypt requires the `dns-01` challenge verification for those. No other is considered good enough.

The difficulty here is that Apache cannot do that on its own. (which is also a security benefit, since corrupting a web server or the communication path to it is the scenario `dns-01` protects against). As the name implies, `dns-01` requires you to show some specific DNS records for your domain that contain some challenge data. So you need to _write_ your domain's DNS records.

If you know how to do that, you can integrated this with `mod_md`. Let's say you have a script for that in `/usr/bin/acme-setup-dns` you configure Apache with:

MDChallengeDns01 /usr/bin/acme-setup-dns

and Apache will call this script when it needs to setup/teardown a DNS challenge record for a domain.

Assuming you want a certificate for `*.mydomain.com`, mod_md will call:

/usr/bin/acme-setup-dns setup mydomain.com challenge-data
# this needs to remove all existing DNS TXT records for 
# _acme-challenge.mydomain.com and create a new one with 
# content "challenge-data"

and afterwards it will call

/usr/bin/acme-setup-dns teardown mydomain.com
# this needs to remove all existing DNS TXT records for 
# _acme-challenge.mydomain.com

Monitoring

Apache has a standard module for monitoring: mod_status. mod_md contributes a section and makes monitoring your domains easy.

You see all your MDs listed alphabetically, the domain names they contain, an overall status, expiration times and specific settings. The settings show your selection of renewal times (or the default), the CA that is used, etc.

The 'Renewal' column will show activity and error descriptions for certificate renewals. This should make life easier for people to find out if everything is all right or what went wrong.

If there is an error with an MD it will be shown here as well. This let's you assess problems without digging through your server logs.

There is also a new 'md-status' handler available to give you the MD information from 'server-status' in JSON format. You configure it as

<Location "/md-status">
  SetHandler md-status
</Location>

on your server. As with 'server-status' you will want to add authorization for this.

If you just want to check the JSON status of a specific domain, simply append that to your status url:

> curl https://<yourhost>/md-status/another-domain.org
{
  "name": "another-domain.org",
  "domains": [
    "another-domain.org",
    "www.another-domain.org"
  ],
  ...

This JSON status also shows a log of activities when domains are renewed:

{
"when": "Wed, 19 Jun 2019 14:45:58 GMT",
"type": "progress", "detail": "The certificate for the managed domain has been renewed successfully and can be used. A graceful server restart now is recommended."
},{
"when": "Wed, 19 Jun 2019 14:45:58 GMT",
"type": "progress", "detail": "Retrieving certificate chain for test-901-003-1560955549.org"
},{
"when": "Wed, 19 Jun 2019 14:45:58 GMT",
"type": "progress", "detail": "Waiting for finalized order to become valid"
},{
"when": "Wed, 19 Jun 2019 14:45:50 GMT",
"type": "progress", "detail": "Submitting CSR to CA for test-901-003-1560955549.org"
},
...

You will also find this information in the file `job.json` in your staging and, when activated, domains directory. This allows you to inspect these at any later point in time as well.

In addition, there is MDCertificateStatus which gives access to relevant certificate information in JSON format.

Directives

Bugfix checklist

See also

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MDBaseServer Directive

Description:Control if base server may be managed or only virtual hosts.
Syntax:MDBaseServer on|off
Default:MDBaseServer off
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Controls if the base server, the one outside all VirtualHosts should be managed by mod_md or not. By default, it will not. For the very reason that it may have confusing side-effects. It is recommended that you have virtual hosts for all managed domains and do not rely on the global, fallback server configuration.

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MDCAChallenges Directive

Description:Type of ACME challenge used to prove domain ownership.
Syntax:MDCAChallenges name [ name ... ]
Default:MDCAChallenges tls-alpn-01 http-01 dns-01
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Sets challenge types and their execution order when proving domain ownership. The names are protocol specific. The current ACME protocol version implemented by Let's Encrypt defines three challenge types that are supported by mod_md. By default, it will try the one on port 443 when available.

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MDCertificateAgreement Directive

Description:You confirm that you accepted the Terms of Service of the Certificate Authority.
Syntax:MDCertificateAgreement accepted
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

When you use mod_md to obtain a certificate, you become a customer of the CA (e.g. Let's Encrypt). That means you need to read and agree to their Terms of Service, so that you understand what they offer and what they might exclude or require from you. mod_md cannot, by itself, agree to such a thing.

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MDCertificateAuthority Directive

Description:The URL of the ACME Certificate Authority service.
Syntax:MDCertificateAuthority url
Default:MDCertificateAuthority https://acme-v02.api.letsencrypt.org/directory
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

The URL where the CA offers its service.

Let's Encrypt offers, right now, four such URLs. Two for the own legacy version of the ACME protocol, commonly named ACMEv1. And two for the RFC 8555 version, named ACMEv2.

Each version has 2 endpoints, as their is a production endpoint and a "staging" endpoint for testing. The testing endpoint works the same, but will not give you certificates recognized by browsers. However, it also has very relaxed rate limits. This allows testing of the service repeatedly without you blocking yourself.

LE Staging Setup

MDCertificateAuthority https://acme-staging-v02.api.letsencrypt.org/directory
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MDCertificateFile Directive

Description:Specify a static certificate file for the MD.
Syntax:MDCertificateFile path-to-pem-file
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

This is used inside a MDomainSet and specifies the file holding the certificate chain for the Managed Domain. The matching key is specified via MDCertificateKeyFile.

Example

<MDomain mydomain.com>
  MDCertificateFile /etc/ssl/my.cert
  MDCertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/my.key
</MDomain>

This is that equivalent of the mod_ssl SSLCertificateFile directive. It has several uses.

If you want to migrate an existing domain, using static files, to automated Let's Encrypt certificates, for one. You define the MDomainSet, add the files here and remove the SSLCertificateFile from your VirtualHosts.

This will give you the same as before, with maybe less repeating lines in your configuration. Then you can add MDRenewMode 'always' to it and the module will get a new certificate before the one from the file expires. When it has done so, you remove the MDCertificateFile and reload the server.

Another use case is that you renew your Let's Encrypt certificates with another ACME clients, for example the excellent certbot. Then let your MDs point to the files from certbot and have both working together.

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MDCertificateKeyFile Directive

Description:Specify a static private key for for the static cerrtificate.
Syntax:MDCertificateKeyFile path-to-file
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

This is used inside a MDomainSet and specifies the file holding the private key for the Managed Domain. The matching certificate is specified via MDCertificateFile.

This is that equivalent of the mod_ssl SSLCertificateKeyFile directive.

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MDCertificateProtocol Directive

Description:The protocol to use with the Certificate Authority.
Syntax:MDCertificateProtocol protocol
Default:MDCertificateProtocol ACME
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Specifies the protocol to use. Currently, only ACME is supported.

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MDCertificateStatus Directive

Description:Exposes public certificate information in JSON.
Syntax:MDCertificateStatus on|off
Default:MDCertificateStatus on
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

When enabled, a resources is available in Managed Domains at 'https://domain/.httpd/certificate-status' that returns a JSON document list key properties of the current and of a renewed certificate - when available.

Example

{
  "valid-until": "Thu, 29 Aug 2019 16:06:35 GMT",
  "valid-from": "Fri, 31 May 2019 16:06:35 GMT",
  "serial": "03039C464D454EDE79FCD2CAE859F668F269",
  "sha256-fingerprint": "1ff3bfd2c7c199489ed04df6e29a9b4ea6c015fe8a1b0ce3deb88afc751e352d"
  "renewal" : { ...renewed cert information... }
}
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MDChallengeDns01 Directive

Description:
Syntax:MDChallengeDns01 path-to-command
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Define a program to be called when the `dns-01` challenge needs to be setup/torn down. The program is given the argument `setup` or `teardown` followed by the domain name. For `setup` the challenge content is additionally given.

You do not need to specify this, as long as a 'http:' or 'https:' challenge method is possible. However, Let's Encrypt makes 'dns-01' the only challenge available for wildcard certificates. If you require one of those, you need to configure this.

See the section about wildcard certificates above for more details.

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MDDriveMode Directive

Description:former name of MDRenewMode.
Syntax:MDDriveMode always|auto|manual
Default:MDDriveMode auto
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

This directive exists for backward compatibility as the old name for MDRenewMode.

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MDHttpProxy Directive

Description:Define a proxy for outgoing connections.
Syntax:MDHttpProxy url
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Use a http proxy to connect to the MDCertificateAuthority. Define this if your webserver can only reach the internet with a forward proxy.

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MDMember Directive

Description:Additional hostname for the managed domain.
Syntax:MDMember hostname
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Instead of listing all dns names on the same line, you may use MDMember to add such names to a managed domain.

Example

<MDomain example.org>
    MDMember www.example.org
    MDMember mail.example.org
</MDomain>

If you use it in the global context, outside a specific MD, you can only specify one value, 'auto' or 'manual' as the default for all other MDs. See MDomain for a description of these special values.

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MDMembers Directive

Description:Control if the alias domain names are automatically added.
Syntax:MDMembers auto|manual
Default:MDMembers auto
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Defines if the ServerName and ServerAlias values of a VirtualHost are automatically added to the members of a Managed Domain or not.

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MDMessageCmd Directive

Description:Handle events for Manage Domains
Syntax:MDMessageCmd path-to-cmd optional-args
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

This command gets called when one of the following events happen for a Managed Domain: "renewed", "expiring", "errored". The command may be invoked for more than these in the future and ignore events it is not prepared to handle.

This is the more flexible companion to MDNotifyCmd.

Example

MDMessageCmd /etc/apache/md-message # will be invoked when a new certificate for mydomain.org is available as: /etc/apache/md-message renewed mydomain.com

                

The program should not block, as the module will wait for it to finish. A return code other than 0 is regarded as an error.

'errored' is no immediate cause for concern since renewal is attempted early enough to allow the internet to come back.

'expiring' should be taken serious. It is issued when the MDWarnWindow is reached. By default this is 10% of the certificate lifetime, so for Let's Encrypt this currently means 9 days before it expires. The warning is repeated at most once a day.

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MDMustStaple Directive

Description:Control if new certificates carry the OCSP Must Staple flag.
Syntax:MDMustStaple on|off
Default:MDMustStaple off
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Defines if newly requested certificate should have the OCSP Must Staple flag set or not. If a certificate has this flag, the server is required to send a OCSP stapling response to every client. This only works if you configure mod_ssl to generate this (see SSLUseStapling and friends).

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MDNotifyCmd Directive

Description:Run a program when a Managed Domain is ready.
Syntax:MDNotifyCmd path [ args ]
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

The configured executable is run when a Managed Domain has signed up or renewed its certificate. It is given the name of the processed MD as additional arguments (after the parameters specified here). It should return status code 0 to indicate that it has run successfully.

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MDomain Directive

Description:Define list of domain names that belong to one group.
Syntax:MDomain dns-name [ other-dns-name... ] [auto|manual]
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

All the names in the list are managed as one Managed Domain (MD). mod_md will request one single certificate that is valid for all these names. This directive uses the global settings (see other MD directives below). If you need specific settings for one MD, use the <MDomainSet>.

There are 2 additional settings that are necessary for a Managed Domain: ServerAdmin and MDCertificateAgreement. The mail address of ServerAdmin is used to register at the CA (Let's Encrypt by default). The CA may use it to notify you about changes in its service or status of your certificates.

The second setting, MDCertificateAgreement, should have the value "accepted". By specifying this, you confirm that your accept the Terms of Service of the CA.

Example

ServerAdmin mailto:admin@example.org
MDCertificateAgreement accepted
MDomain example.org www.example.org

<VirtualHost *:443>
    ServerName example.org
    DocumentRoot htdocs/root

    SSLEngine on
</VirtualHost>

<VirtualHost *:443>
    ServerName www.example.org
    DocumentRoot htdocs/www

    SSLEngine on
</VirtualHost>

There are two special names that you may use in this directive: 'manual' and 'auto'. This determines if a Managed Domain shall have exactly the name list as is configured ('manual') or offer more convenience. With 'auto' all names of a virtual host are added to a MD. Conveniently, 'auto' is also the default.

Example

MDomain example.org

<VirtualHost *:443>
    ServerName example.org
    ServerAlias www.example.org
    DocumentRoot htdocs/root

    SSLEngine on
</VirtualHost>

MDomain example2.org auto

<VirtualHost *:443>
    ServerName example2.org
    ServerAlias www.example2.org
    ...
</VirtualHost>

In this example, the domain 'www.example.org' is automatically added to the MD 'example.org'. Similarly for 'example2.org' where 'auto' is configured explicitly. Whenever you add more ServerAlias names to this virtual host, they will be added as well to the Managed Domain.

If you prefer to explicitly declare all the domain names, use 'manual' mode. An error will be logged if the names do not match with the expected ones.

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<MDomainSet> Directive

Description:Container for directives applied to the same managed domains.
Syntax:<MDomainSet dns-name [ other-dns-name... ]>...</MDomainSet>
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

This is the directive MDomain with the added possibility to add setting just for this MD. In fact, you may also use "<MDomain ..>" as a shortcut.

This allows you to configure an MD that uses another Certificate Authority, have other renewal requirements, etc.

Example

<MDomain sandbox.example.org>
    MDCertificateAuthority   https://someotherca.com/ACME
</MDomain>

A common use case is to configure https: requirements separately for your domains.

Example

<MDomain example.org>
    MDRequireHttps temporary
</MDomain>
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MDPortMap Directive

Description:Map external to internal ports for domain ownership verification.
Syntax:MDPortMap map1 [ map2 ]
Default:MDPortMap http:80 https:443
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

The ACME protocol provides two methods to verify domain ownership via HTTP: one that uses 'http:' urls (port 80) and one for 'https:' urls (port 443). If your server is not reachable by at least one of the two, ACME may only work by configuring your DNS server, see MDChallengeDns01.

On most public facing servers, 'http:' arrives on port 80 and 'https:' on port 443. The module checks the ports your Apache server is listening on and assumes those are available. This means that when your server does not listen on port 80, it assumes that 'http:' requests from the internet will not work.

This is a good guess, but it may be wrong. For example, your Apache might listen to port 80, but your firewall might block it. 'http:' is only available in your intranet. So, the module will falsely assume that Let's Encrypt can use 'http:' challenges with your server. This will then fail, because your firewall will drop those.

Example

MDPortMap http:- https:8433

The above example shows how you can specify that 'http:' requests from the internet will never arrive. In addition it says that 'https:' requests will arrive on local port 8433.

This is necessary if you have port forwarding in place, your server may be reachable from the Internet on port 443, but the local port that httpd uses is another one. Your server might only listen on ports 8443 and 8000, but be reached on ports 443 and 80 (from the internet).

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MDPrivateKeys Directive

Description:Set type and size of the private keys generated.
Syntax:MDPrivateKeys type [ params... ]
Default:MDPrivateKeys RSA 2048
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Defines what kind of private keys are generated for a managed domain and with what parameters. The only supported type right now is 'RSA' and the only parameter it takes is the number of bits used for the key.

The current (2017) recommendation is at least 2048 bits and a smaller number is not accepted here. Higher numbers offer longer security, but are computationally more expensive, e.g. increase the load on your server. That might or might not be an issue for you.

Other key types will be defined in the future.

Example

MDPrivateKeys RSA 3072

Please note that this setting only has an effect on new keys. Any existing private key you have remains unaffected. Also, this only affects private keys generated for certificates. ACME account keys are unaffected by this.

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MDRenewMode Directive

Description:Controls if certificates shall be renewed.
Syntax:MDRenewMode always|auto|manual
Default:MDRenewMode auto
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

In the default 'auto' mode, the module will do what makes most sense of each Managed Domain. For a domain without any certificates, it will obtain them from the Certificate Authority.

However, if you have defined an MD that is not used by any of Apache's VirtualHosts, it will not bother. And for MDs with static certificate files (see MDCertificateFile), it assumes that you have your own source, and will not renew them either.

You can override this default in either way. If you specify 'always', the module will renew certificates for an MD, irregardless if the domains are in use or if there are static files.

For the opposite effect, configure 'manual' and no renewal will be attempted.

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MDRenewWindow Directive

Description:Control when a certificate will be renewed.
Syntax:MDRenewWindow duration
Default:MDRenewWindow 33%
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

If the validity of the certificate falls below duration, mod_md will get a new signed certificate.

Normally, certificates are valid for around 90 days and mod_md will renew them the earliest 33% of their complete lifetime before they expire (so for 90 days validity, 30 days before it expires). If you think this is not what you need, you can specify either the exact time, as in:

Example

# 21 days before expiry
MDRenewWindow 21d 
# 30 seconds (might be close)
MDRenewWindow 30s
# 10% of the cert lifetime
MDRenewWindow 10%

When in auto drive mode, the module will check every 12 hours at least what the status of the managed domains is and if it needs to do something. On errors, for example when the CA is unreachable, it will initially retry after some seconds. Should that continue to fail, it will back off to a maximum interval of hourly checks.

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MDRequireHttps Directive

Description:Redirects http: traffic to https: for Managed Domains.
Syntax:MDRequireHttps off|temporary|permanent
Default:MDRequireHttps off
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

This is a convenience directive to ease http: to https: migration of your Managed Domains. With:

Example

MDRequireHttps temporary

you announce that you want all traffic via http: URLs to be redirected to the https: ones, for now. This is safe and you can remove this again at any time.

The following has consequences: if you want client to no longer use the http: URLs, configure:

Permanent (for at least half a year!)

MDRequireHttps permanent

This does two things:

  1. All request to the http: resources are redirected to the same url with the https: scheme using the 301 status code. This tells clients that this is intended to be forever and the should update any links they have accordingly.
  2. All answers to https: requests will carry the header Strict-Transport-Security with a life time of half a year. This tells the browser that it never (for half a year) shall use http: when talking to this domain name. Browsers will, after having seen this, refuse to contact your unencrypted site. This prevents malicious middleware to downgrade connections and listen/manipulate the traffic. Which is good. But you cannot simply take it back again.

You can achieve the same with mod_alias and some Redirect configuration, basically. If you do it yourself, please make sure to exclude the paths /.well-known/* from your redirection, otherwise mod_md might have trouble signing on new certificates.

If you set this globally, it applies to all managed domains. If you want it for a specific domain only, use:

Example

<MDomain xxx.yyy>
  MDRequireHttps temporary
</MDomain>
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MDServerStatus Directive

Description:Control if Managed Domain information is added to server-status.
Syntax:MDServerStatus on|off
Default:MDServerStatus on
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Apaches 'server-status' handler allows you configure a resource to monitor what is going on. This includes now a section listing all Managed Domains with the DNS names, renewal status, lifetimes and main properties.

You can switch that off using this directive.

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MDStoreDir Directive

Description:Path on the local file system to store the Managed Domains data.
Syntax:MDStoreDir path
Default:MDStoreDir md
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

Defines where on the local file system the Managed Domain data is stored. This is an absolute path or interpreted relative to the server root. The default will create a directory 'md' in your server root.

If you move this and have already data, be sure to move/copy the data first to the new location, reconfigure and then restart the server. If you reconfigure and restart first, the server will try to get new certificates that it thinks are missing.

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MDWarnWindow Directive

Description:Define the time window when you want to be warned about an expiring certificate.
Syntax:MDWarnWindow duration
Default:MDWarnWindow 10%
Context:server config
Status:Experimental
Module:mod_md

See MDRenewWindow for a description on how you can specify the time.

The modules checks the remaining lifetime of certificates and invokes MDMessageCmd when there is less than the warn window left. With the default, this mean 9 days for certificates from Let's Encrypt.

It also applies to Managed Domains with static certificate files ( see MDCertificateFile).

Available Languages:  en 

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Comments

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