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Ansible Role: Certbot (for Let's Encrypt)

Build Status

Installs and configures Certbot (for Let's Encrypt).


If installing from source, Git is required. You can install Git using the geerlingguy.git role.

Generally, installing from source (see section Source Installation from Git) leads to a better experience using Certbot and Let's Encrypt, especially if you're using an older OS release.

Role Variables

The variable certbot_install_from_source controls whether to install Certbot from Git or package management. The latter is the default, so the variable defaults to no.

certbot_auto_renew: true
certbot_auto_renew_user: "{{ ansible_user | default(lookup('env', 'USER')) }}"
certbot_auto_renew_hour: "3"
certbot_auto_renew_minute: "30"
certbot_auto_renew_options: "--quiet --no-self-upgrade"

By default, this role configures a cron job to run under the provided user account at the given hour and minute, every day. The defaults run certbot renew (or certbot-auto renew) via cron every day at 03:30:00 by the user you use in your Ansible playbook. It's preferred that you set a custom user/hour/minute so the renewal is during a low-traffic period and done by a non-root user account.

certbot_force is use to regenerate certificate same is one already exist

Automatic Certificate Generation

Currently there is one built-in method for generating new certificates using this role: standalone. Other methods (e.g. using nginx or apache and a webroot) may be added in the future.

For a complete example: see the fully functional test playbook in molecule/default/playbook-standalone-nginx-aws.yml.

certbot_create_if_missing: false
certbot_create_method: standalone

Set certbot_create_if_missing to yes or True to let this role generate certs. Set the method used for generating certs with the certbot_create_method variable—current allowed values include: standalone.


The email address used to agree to Let's Encrypt's TOS and subscribe to cert-related notifications. This should be customized and set to an email address that you or your organization regularly monitors.

certbot_certs: []
  # - email:
  #   domains:
  #     -
  #     -
  # - domains:
  #     -

A list of domains (and other data) for which certs should be generated. You can add an email key to any list item to override the certbot_admin_email.

certbot_create_command: "{{ certbot_script }} certonly --standalone --noninteractive --agree-tos --email {{ | default(certbot_admin_email) }} -d {{ | join(',') }}"

The certbot_create_command defines the command used to generate the cert.

role add ssl config file to nginx

Standalone Certificate Generation

  - nginx

Services that should be stopped while certbot runs it's own standalone server on ports 80 and 443. If you're running Apache, set this to apache2 (Ubuntu), or httpd (RHEL), or if you have Nginx on port 443 and something else on port 80 (e.g. Varnish, a Java app, or something else), add it to the list so it is stopped when the certificate is generated.

These services will only be stopped the first time a new cert is generated.

Source Installation from Git

You can install Certbot from it's Git source repository if desired. This might be useful in several cases, but especially when older distributions don't have Certbot packages available (e.g. CentOS < 7, Ubuntu < 16.10 and Debian < 8).

certbot_install_from_source: false
certbot_version: master
certbot_keep_updated: true

Certbot Git repository options. To install from source, set certbot_install_from_source to yes. This clones the configured certbot_repo, respecting the certbot_version setting. If certbot_keep_updated is set to yes, the repository is updated every time this role runs.

certbot_dir: /opt/certbot

The directory inside which Certbot will be cloned.

Wildcard Certificates

Let's Encrypt supports generating wildcard certificates, but the process for generating and using them is slightly more involved. See comments in this pull request for an example of how to use this role to maintain wildcard certs.

Michael Porter also has a walkthrough of Creating A Lets Encrypt Wildcard Cert With Ansible, specifically with Cloudflare.



Example Playbook

- hosts: servers

    certbot_auto_renew_user: your_username_here
    certbot_auto_renew_minute: "20"
    certbot_auto_renew_hour: "5"

    - geerlingguy.certbot

See other examples in the tests/ directory.

Manually creating certificates with certbot

Note: You can have this role automatically generate certificates; see the "Automatic Certificate Generation" documentation above.

You can manually create certificates using the certbot (or certbot-auto) script (use letsencrypt on Ubuntu 16.04, or use /opt/certbot/certbot-auto if installing from source/Git. Here are some example commands to configure certificates with Certbot:

# Automatically add certs for all Apache virtualhosts (use with caution!).
certbot --apache

# Generate certs, but don't modify Apache configuration (safer).
certbot --apache certonly

If you want to fully automate the process of adding a new certificate, but don't want to use this role's built in functionality, you can do so using the command line options to register, accept the terms of service, and then generate a cert using the standalone server:

  1. Make sure any services listening on ports 80 and 443 (Apache, Nginx, Varnish, etc.) are stopped.
  2. Register with something like certbot register --agree-tos --email [] - Note: You won't need to do this step in the future, when generating additional certs on the same server.
  3. Generate a cert for a domain whose DNS points to this server: certbot certonly --noninteractive --standalone -d -d
  4. Re-start whatever was listening on ports 80 and 443 before.
  5. Update your webserver's virtualhost TLS configuration to point at the new certificate (fullchain.pem) and private key (privkey.pem) Certbot just generated for the domain you passed in the certbot command.
  6. Reload or restart your webserver so it uses the new HTTPS virtualhost configuration.

Certbot certificate auto-renewal

By default, this role adds a cron job that will renew all installed certificates once per day at the hour and minute of your choosing.

You can test the auto-renewal (without actually renewing the cert) with the command:

/opt/certbot/certbot-auto renew --dry-run

See full documentation and options on the Certbot website.



Author Information

This role was created in 2016 by Jeff Geerling, author of Ansible for DevOps.