Getting from http to https

The world is moving to https, but that was not the reason for the move.

Initially I was happy to use whatever Digital Ocean (DO) supplied in the WordPress droplet. But as I explained in my last post, I had some problems with moving from to my self hosted site at DO.

In short the problem turned out to be Chrome caching sites that accepts https making my site unavailable to every visitor that has been to my site in the past including myself. It seemed like DO forced https but had not configured the droplet fully. That was not the case at all, it was configured for http, but not for https and doing that was well documented.

Had I understood that and what happened from the beginning it would have made this so much easier, but I only realized what Chrome did a couple of minutes after my troubleshooting and fixing what I thought was a half baked config. It would have saved me from spinning up about five extra droplets, reading a lot more about Apache2 than I really needed. However, I learned a lot so it was good that I mistook what happened for being something the droplet did.

To make it work I started with performing the work of the initial server setup they recommended. Most of it was things I knew I ought to do so it made sense, but the real reason was that the https-post they had referred to is as the initial step. So I followed it just to make sure I did not miss a required step.

Then I ran four commands to make Apache load ssl and configure virtual servers for it.

cd /etc/apache2/mods-enabled
ln -s ../mods-available/ssl.conf
ln -s ../mods-available/ssl.load
ln -s ../mods-available/socache_shmcb.load
cd /etc/apache2/sites-enabled
ln -s ../sites-available/default-ssl.conf

In hindsight I’ve realized that the proper way to enable modifications would have been to just do “a2enmod ssl”. However, I have not tried that in a fresh droplet so I leave that here just as a suggestion.

All that remains now is to use yet another fantastic writeup DO provides. It shows how to create a free ssl certificate using Let’s Encrypt and configure Apache to use it including how to make it renew automatically. It is easy, fast and works with no complication at all. At least it did for me.

In addition to Digital Ocean that I find extremely impressive, Let’s Encrypt is by far one of the most impressive sites I’ve found recently that I never knew existed. I recommend everyone to go there and read up on what they do and how it works.

Full disclosure: The links to Digital Ocean (DO) in this article uses my referral link. Using that I get a discount from them and so do you. I had this post planned before I happened to get a referral-id the other day, they are quite honestly one of the most impressive destinations for IT-geeks I can think of. Go check them out using my referral or just enter into your favorite web browser (that link is referral free – use the other to save money).

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