Use Let's Encrypt on GitLab

Posted by Nicolas B. on May 30, 2016

If you have a GitLab instance and you want to secure it, you could do it for free with Let’s Encrypt.

To start if it’s not already the case you need to install Let’s Encrypt.

When installation is done we create an ini file for Let’s Encrypt. It’s more clear than a command line with multiple options.
So create /root/letsencrypt-config/gitlab.ini file.

# Let's Encrypt config file for GitLab instance

# register certs with the following email address
email = hello@MY_DOMAIN

# standalone authenticator
authenticator = standalone

# generate certificates for the specified domains.
domains = gitlab.MY_DOMAIN, mattermost.MY_DOMAIN, registry.MY_DOMAIN

# use a 4096 bit RSA key
rsa-key-size = 4096

We use authenticator = standalone because of GitLab Registry. The Registry can’t be started in http://. So it’s the more easier. But it will need to have nginx down while Let’s Encrypt run.

Now we have to create a small script /root/letsencrypt-config/renew-ssl-certificates.cron to automatically renew certificates by using cron.
The script will stop the GitLab’s nginx server, then call Let’s Encrypt to renew our certificates, then start the nginx server.


gitlab-ctl stop nginx

/usr/local/bin/certbot-auto certonly -c /root/letsencrypt-config/gitlab.ini --renew-by-default

gitlab-ctl start nginx

Then we put the script into cron.monthly. And manually generate certificates the first time.

$ chmod +x /root/letsencrypt-config/renew-ssl-certificates.cron
$ ln -s /root/letsencrypt-config/renew-ssl-certificates.cron /etc/cron.monthly/

# Let's generate the certificates for the first time
$ /usr/local/bin/certbot-auto certonly -c /root/letsencrypt-config/gitlab.ini

To finish we configure GitLab to have it use the certificates.

external_url 'https://...'

nginx['redirect_http_to_https'] = true
nginx['ssl_certificate'] = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/gitlab.MY_DOMAIN/fullchain.pem"
nginx['ssl_certificate_key'] = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/gitlab.MY_DOMAIN/privkey.pem"

# ...

mattermost_external_url 'https://...'

mattermost_nginx['redirect_http_to_https'] = true
mattermost_nginx['ssl_certificate'] = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/gitlab.MY_DOMAIN/fullchain.pem"
mattermost_nginx['ssl_certificate_key'] = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/gitlab.MY_DOMAIN/privkey.pem"

# ...

registry_external_url 'https://...'

registry_nginx['ssl_certificate'] = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/gitlab.MY_DOMAIN/fullchain.pem"
registry_nginx['ssl_certificate_key'] = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/gitlab.MY_DOMAIN/privkey.pem"

And apply it.

$ gitlab-ctl reconfigure

Enjoy HTTPS on your GitLab instance :)