How To Install LetsEncrypt SSL With Nginx on CentOS 6


In this tutorial, we will show you how to install and configuration of LetsEncrypt SSL with Nginx on your CentOS 6 server.  For those of you who didn’t know, LetsEncrypt is a free open certificate authority (CA) that provides free certificates for websites and other services. The service is backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, Cisco Systems, and Akamai. Unfortunately, LetsEncrypt.org certificates currently have a 3 month lifetime. This means you’ll need to renew your certificate quarterly for now.

This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple. I will show you through the step-by-step installation LetsEncrypt SSL in CentOS 6.


  • A server running one of the following operating systems: CentOS 6.
  • It’s recommended that you use a fresh OS install to prevent any potential issues.
  • SSH access to the server (or just open Terminal if you’re on a desktop).
  • A non-root sudo user or access to the root user. We recommend acting as a non-root sudo user, however, as you can harm your system if you’re not careful when acting as the root.

Install LetsEncrypt SSL With Nginx on CentOS 6

Step 1. First, you need to enable the EPEL repository on your system and start by ensuring your system is up-to-date.

yum install epel-release
yum -y update
yum -y install git python-tools python-pip

Step 2. Install LEMP server.

A CentOS 6 LEMP server is required. If you do not have LEMP installed, you can follow our guide here.

Step 3. Installing LetsEncrypt SSL.

Clone LetsEncrypt git project to your server:

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

Then change into the project folder:

cd letsencrypt

Run the commands below to generate an SSL certificate for your website or blogs:

./letsencrypt-auto certonly -a standalone -d yourdomain.com -d www.yourdomain.com

Assuming you did everything right, you should see this:

Install LetsEncrypt SSL With Nginx on CentOS 6

LetsEncrypt puts its keys in this directory /etc/letsencrypt

Step 3. Generating Your SSL Key and CSR.

First, create an SSL directory to host your SSL certificates.

mkdir /etc/nginx/ssl
cd /etc/nginx/ssl

Then follow the steps below to generate a server key, certificate signing request, and self-signed certificate. If you want to install a trusted certificate from a trusted certificate authority, then you’ll need to send a copy of the CSR to a certificate authority to generate a trusted certificate.

Create the server private key, run the commands below:

openssl genrsa -des3 -out server.key 2048

Then run the commands below to generate a certificate signing request key using the server private key to create an SSL certificate:

openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr

When you run the above commands, you’ll be prompted to answer a few questions. Follow the simple guide below:

  • Common Name: The fully-qualified domain name, or URL, you’re securing.
    If you are requesting a Wildcard certificate, add an asterisk (*) to the left of the common name where you want the wildcard, for example, *.idroot.us.
  • Organization: The legally-registered name for your business. If you are enrolling as an individual, enter the certificate requestor’s name.
  • Organization Unit: If applicable, enter the DBA (doing business as) name. If you’re securing a single blog, then type the blog owner’s name here.
  • City or Locality: Name of the city where your organization is registered/located.
  • State or Province: Name of the state or province where your organization is located.
  • Country: The two-letter International Organization for Standardization (ISO) format country code for where your organization is legally registered.

Step 4. Configure the Certificate for Nginx.

You’re ready to install the certificate on the Nginx server. An example configuration for the Nginx webserver is as followed:

listen 443 ssl spdy;
listen [::]:443 ssl spdy;
ssl on;
ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/fullchain.pem;
ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/privkey.pem;
ssl_trusted_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/chain.pem;
ssl_session_cache shared:SSL:10m;
ssl_protocols TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;
ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;
add_header Strict-Transport-Security max-age=15768000;
ssl_stapling on;
ssl_stapling_verify on;
resolver valid=86400;
resolver_timeout 10;

Save your configuration and restart the Nginx webserver:

nginx -t
service nginx restart

Now your domain should be accessible via HTTPS! Check it out at https://yourdomain.com.

Install LetsEncrypt SSL With Nginx on CentOS 6

Congratulations! You have successfully installed LetsEncrypt SSL. Thanks for using this tutorial for installing LetsEncrypt SSL with Nginx on your CentOS 6 system. For additional help or useful information, we recommend you check the official LetsEncrypt SSL website.

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r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to idroot.us, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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