With e-commerce security being the top priority, SSL certificates have become extremely important for establishing trust and security when doing business online. Installing an SSL certificate helps secure your website traffic through encryption and HTTPS.
While it may seem technical, installing an SSL on Linux doesn’t have to be difficult. This guide will walk you through the steps for installing and setting up SSL certificates on Linux servers.
Understanding SSL Certificates
An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that provides encrypted communication between a web server and a web browser. It verifies the identity of a website and enables an encrypted HTTPS connection. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and requires a private key to encrypt and decrypt transmitted data.
There are a few types of SSL certificates available depending on validation level:
- Domain Validated (DV) – Validates control of a domain name only. Fast and affordable.
- Organization Validated (OV) – Verifies the identity of a business. Displays organization information.
- Extended Validation (EV) – Highest validation level. Displays green address bar on sites.
Purchasing an SSL certificate requires choosing a certificate authority (CA) to purchase from. Some popular CAs include Comodo, DigiCert, GlobalSign, and Let’s Encrypt.
Installing SSL on Linux Using Plesk
One of the easiest ways to install an SSL on Linux is by using the Plesk control panel. Plesk provides a simple interface to manage hosting and install SSL certificates.
What is Plesk?
Plesk is a web hosting control panel that allows hosting providers to easily manage multiple virtual hosts. It simplifies server administration and configuration tasks like installing SSL certificates.
Steps to Install an SSL Certificate on Linux Server with Plesk
Follow these steps to install an SSL certificate on a Linux server using Plesk control panel:
- Log into the Plesk control panel
- Select Domains > Choose the domain to update
- Click the Add New Certificate icon
- Enter a name for the certificate
- Open and copy the certificate and key files provided by your CA
- Paste the certificate and key contents into the correct Plesk boxes
- Click Send Text button
- Go to Hosting section and click Set-up
- Select the new certificate from the dropdown menu
- Click OK to finish the installation
Once installed, the SSL certificate will be active and ready to use on your domain.
Installing SSL on Linux Without Plesk
If your Linux server doesn’t have Plesk, you can still install an SSL certificate manually using the command line. Here are the steps:
- Upload certificate and key files to server using SFTP
- Login to server via SSH as root user
- Copy certificate file to /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt
- Copy key file to /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt
- Restrict permissions on key file using chmod 0400
- Edit Virtual Host section in /etc/httpd/conf.d/ssl.conf
- Add paths to certificate and key files
- Restart Apache to complete installation
This will install the SSL certificate in the necessary Apache configuration files without needing Plesk.
Installing SSL on Red Hat Linux
The process is very similar on Red Hat and RHEL based Linux distributions. Here are the steps:
- Download certificate files from CA to server
- Create yourdomain.crt file with certificate content
- Copy yourdomain.crt to /yourdomain/httpd/conf/ssl.crt/
- Copy key and CA bundle files to proper folders
- Update SSLCertificateFile, SSLCertificateKeyFile, and SSLCACertificateFile paths in httpd.conf
- Save and restart Apache
This will install the SSL certificate and allow your site to be served over HTTPS on Red Hat Linux.
Verifying and Troubleshooting SSL Installation
Once the certificate is installed, verify it is working properly by:
- Visiting your site in browser and checking for lock icon
- Using an SSL testing tool like the SSL Server Test by Qualys
- Checking for errors in Apache logs
- Trying a restart of Apache if issues occur
Some common problems and fixes include:
- Site not loading – Certificate installed on wrong domain. Check paths in config.
- Insecure connection – Key file permissions are incorrect. Set to 0400.
- Errors in browser – CA bundle missing or not properly installed. Verify bundle.
Taking time to test and validate your SSL installation will help avoid issues down the road.
Renewing SSL Certificates
SSL certificates eventually expire and need to be renewed to maintain security. The renewal process depends on your CA but typically involves:
- Generating a new certificate signing request
- Submitting to CA for signing
- Installing renewed certificate
Many CAs allow automatic renewals. You can also renew in Plesk by generating a CSR then installing renewed certificate. Plan renewal in advance to ensure no lapse in security for your Linux website.
Purchasing the Right SSL Certificate
When purchasing an SSL certificate, some factors to consider include:
- Validation level – EV for maximum trust, DV for low cost
- Brand reputation – DigiCert and Comodo are leading providers
- Linux compatibility – Ensure certificate works with distro
- Cost – Typically $50-$100 per year for domain validated
- Support – Chat, email, docs to help with issues
Take time to review the best SSL certificate providers to find one that meets your needs and budget.
Installing and managing SSL certificates is crucial for securing communications between your Linux web server and visitors. While the process can seem intimidating, following the step-by-step guide outlined here will help you successfully activate SSL on your Linux machine.
Properly installing SSL certificates enables HTTPS and TLS encryption for your website traffic. Just remember to keep certificates renewed and choose a reputable CA for purchasing SSLs. With encryption and trust indicators activated, you can rest assured your website provides a secure experience for users.