SSL certificates

We are able to obtain signed certificates at no charge through Let's Encrypt.

The primary Common Name for a certificate should always be the server hostname, with service CNAMEs specified as Subject Alternative Names. For instance, a certificate for our apt repository/mirrors should have the primary CN, with and as SANs.

This allows us to easily distinguish between certificates in cases where a service may be hosted by multiple hostnames, or where the hostname changes, without sharing private keys.

Add relevant entries to LDAP/DNS

The SSL support within Puppet relies on the dnsA and dnsCname entries for a host within LDAP. These are also converted in the ocf/dns repo into BIND-parsable files, so if you update LDAP and then update the ocf/dns repo, you should be ready to go!

Setting up SSL with Puppet

Add the ocf::ssl::default module to the server (e.g. by adding it to the server's per-host hiera config). This will run dehydrated to update DNS dynamically (a dns-01 challenge) and spit out a valid cert. This will automatically retrieve a cert for a host that matches as much as it can in terms of SANs. For instance, if requesting for a host with a hostname of foo with an alias of bar, it will request,,, and If you need to customize this list, use the ocf::ssl::bundle class and pass in a list of domains.

If puppet successfully runs, it should provide these files for whatever service you want to setup that needs SSL:

  • /etc/ssl/private/${fqdn}.key
  • /etc/ssl/private/${fqdn}.crt
  • /etc/ssl/private/${fqdn}.bundle

The bundle file is automatically generated from the certificate you provided, and contains the Let's Encrypt intermediate certificate.

You should also make sure to notify the service automatically so that when any new certs come along they are automatically used by the service. This requires linking the ocf::ssl::default module with whatever service you're using the cert within. For instance, to restart nginx when certs are updated, add this into your puppet manifest:

Class['ocf::ssl::default'] ~> Class['Nginx::Service']

Verifying certificates

For the host on port 443 (HTTPS), try connecting using the OpenSSL client.

openssl s_client -CApath /etc/ssl/certs -connect

The last line of the SSL session information should have a zero return code. This only verifies the certificate, not that the hostname you entered matches the Common Name or Subject Alternatives Names on the certificate.


Verify return code: 0 (ok)

Bad example 1:

Verify return code: 18 (self signed certificate)

The default self-signed certificate, not the one obtained through Let's Encrypt, is probably still being used.

Bad example 2:

Verify return code: 21 (unable to verify the first certificate)

The intermediate CA chain is probably missing (or in the wrong order), so there is no trust path to a root CA.