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ACME-V2 support involved a large rewrite of the Client and the Certificate Manager's design. The central object changed from a CertificateSigned to the AcmeOrder, which caused a ripple effect.

This project is still undergoing active development, and the design is not entirely finalized yet... but... most of the functionality is working (and this package is used in production!). Everything is covered by extensive unit and integrated tests.


peter_sslers README

Peter SSLers or how i stopped worrying and learned to LOVE the SSL Certificate.

peter_sslers is a framework designed to help experienced Admins and DevOps persons manage SSL Certificates and deploy them on larger systems (e.g. you have lots of Domains and/or Nodes and/or Networks).

What's in the "box" ?

  • This project is a Python/Pyramid based robust SSL Certificate Manager and Explorer, complete with:
    • an Admin Dashboard,
    • a fullly programmatic API,
    • an integrated ACME V2 Client for the LetsEncrypt CertificateAuthority.
  • The paired project Lua-Resty Peter_SSLers is an OpenResty Lua module to enable Dynamic SSL Certificate Handling on the Nginx webserver.


Amazing, right?

This project is not aimed at casual users or people concerned with a handful of websites or servers.

This project is designed for people who have lots of Domains and/or Servers, all of which need to be coordinated and centrally managed. The target audience is companies that offer whitelabel services, such as: SAAS, PAAS, hosting user domains, and other infrastructure oriented systems.

If you can use Certbot or another consumer friendly simple client to solve your needs, YOU ALMOST ABSOLUTELY WANT TO USE THAT CLIENT.

Peter, as we fondly call this package, offers lightweight tools to centrally manage SSL Certificate data in a centralized SQL database of your choice. PostgreSQL is recommended; Sqlite is supported and the primary testing environment. A good-faith effort is made to get this to work on MySQL, but, well, sigh.

Peter combines an integrated ACME V2 Client designed to primarily operate against the LetsEncrypt service, alongside tools designed to manage, deploy and troubleshoot SSL Certificates.

The client supported ACME v1 until version 0.4.0. As of 0.4.0, Only ACME V2 is supported. As of 0.5.0, Only lua-resty-peter_sslers >0.5.0 is supported.

It is highly likely that PeterSSLers will work with most, if not all, ACME Servers. However, only LetsEncrypt is supported as a target ACME Server at this time. LetsEncrypt implementation of the ACME RFC, Boulder has made some unique decisions regarding RFC spec-compliant implementation details, and this system was written to support those first and foremost.

Peter's core tool is a lightweight database-backed Pyramid application that can:

  • Act as a client for the entire "LetsEncrypt" Certificate provisioning process, operating behind a proxied webserver.
  • Offer a simple API for creating and managing the ACME process. Your client software will only talk to Peter, never LetsEncrypt/ACME.
  • Import existing ACME Account Credentials for various CA Operations.
  • Import existing SSL Certificates for management and exploration
  • Ease provisioning Certificates onto various servers across your systems
  • Browse Certificate data and easily see what needs to be renewed
  • Interact with the upstream ACME Servers to deal with accounts, pending AcmeAuthorizations, and all that mess.
  • Communicate with a properly configured OpenResty enabled Nginx web server (see next section)
  • Prime a Redis cache with Certificate data
  • Translate Certificates into different formats
  • Be the source of lots of puns!

Peter ships alongside a Lua opm module for the OpenResty framework on the Nginx server which will:

  • Dynamically request Certificates from a primed Redis cache
  • Store data in shared Nginx worker and main memory and
  • Expose routes to flush the worker shared memory or expire select keys.

The Peter_SSLers OpenResty Module module is available in a separate project, lua-resty-peter_sslers and can be installed into your OpenResty / Nginx server via the opm package installer. It has been used in production for several years.

The Pyramid based application can function as a daemon for Admin or API access, or even a commandline script. Most web pages offer .json endpoints, so you can easily issue commands via curl and have human-readable data in a terminal window. Don't want to do things manually? Ok - everything was built to be readable on commandline browsers... yes, this is actually developed-for and tested-with Lynx. I shit you not, Lynx.

Do you like book-keeping and logging? Peter's ACME Client logs everything into SQL so you can easily find the answers to burning questions like:

  • What AcmeAuthorizations are still pending?
  • What AcmeChallenges are active?
  • Which external IPs are triggering my AcmeChallenges?
  • Where did this PrivateKey come from?
  • How many requests have I been making to upstream servers?

All communication to the upstream ACME server is logged using Python's standard logging module.

module: peter_sslers.lib.acme_v2

  • log level: will show the raw data received
  • log level: logging.debug will show the response parsed to json, when applicable


Do you like cross-referencing? Your certs are broken down into fields that are cross-referenced or searchable within Peter as well.

Peter has absolutely no security measures and should only be used by people who understand that. This should be a self-selecting group, because many people will not want this tool. Peter is a honeybadger, he don't care. He does what he wants.

Peter offers several commandline tools -- so spinning up a tool "webserver" mode may not be necessary at all -- or might only be needed for brief periods of time.

SQLAlchemy is the backing database library, so virtually any database can be used (SQLite, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle, mssql, etc). SQLite is the default, but the package is deployed against PostgreSQL. SQLite is actually kind of great, because a single .sqlite file can be sftp'd on-to and off-of different machines for distribution and local viewings.

Peter will use installed Python cryptography modules whenever possible. If the required packages are not available, Peter will leverage the system's installed OpenSSL binaries using subprocesses. The reason is to minimize the amount of installations/downloads/packages when used for emergency debugging. Every single operation involved with procuring and inspecting SSL Certificates is implemented Python-first, with an OpenSSL fallback.

Although Python2 is no longer supported by Python itself, both Python2 and Python3 are targeted platforms for this library because we all have to deal legacy systems.


Most of us hate having to spend time on DevOps tasks. Personally, I would rather spend time working on the core product or consumer products. This tool was designed as a swiss-army-knife to streamline some tasks and troubleshoot a handful of issues with https hosting. This also allows for programmatic control of most ACME operations that can be difficult to accomplish with Certbot and other popular clients.

Peter sits in between your machines and LetsEncrypt. It is designed to let your applications programmatically interact with ACME servers, allowing you to provision new Certificates and load them into webservers.

Peter is originally designed for systems that offer whitelabel services in the cloud.

PRs are absolutely welcome, even if just fixes or additions to the test-suite.


Peter SSLers is fully functional and deployed in production environments for:

  • Certificate Management
  • Certificate Procurement
  • Manual Renewal
  • Programmatic Renewal
  • Interrogating and syncing against ACME Servers

The following features are being actively reworked and semi-functional:

  • Queuing new Domains for Certificate Provisioning
  • Automatic Renewal

WARNING (Important)

  • This package manages PRIVATE SSL KEYS and makes them readable.
  • If you do not know / are not really awesome with basic network security PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS.

ACME2 Features

Feature Supported?
New Certificate Yes
Deactivate Account Yes
Account Key Rollover Yes

The Components

"Peter SSLers" - a Pyramid Application

"Peter SSLers" is the core toolkit. It is a Pyramid application that can be spun up as a webserver or used via a commandline interface. Peter is your friend and handles all of the Certificate Management and translation functions for you. He's a bit eccentric, but basically a good guy.

"SSL Minnow" - The Datastore

By default, the "SSL Minnow" is a SQLite database ssl_minnow.sqlite. It is the backing datastore for SSL Certificates and the operations log. Your data is ONLY saved to the SSL Minnow - not to the filesystem like other LE clients - so you should be careful with it. If the Minnow would be lost, it can not be recovered. Be a good skipper, or your three hour tour could end up taking many years and might involve the Harlem Globetrotters, who are great to watch but do you want to be stuck on a remote desert island with them?!?! No.

"SSLX" - The OpenResty package

OpenResty is a fork of the nginx webserver which offers a lot of programmatic hooks (similar to Apache's mod_perl). One of the many hooks allows for programmatic determination and loading of SSL Certificates based on the hostname.

A tiered waterfall approach is used to aggressively cache Certificates:

  • initial attempt: nginx worker memory
  • failover 1: nginx shared memory
  • failover 2: centralized redis server
  • failover 3: querying the Peter SSLers Pyramid application

The Pyramid application can be used to prime and clear each cache level.

SSLX, I'm your only friend. SSLX, Your love will sing for you.

Available via the opm package manager:

opm get lua-resty-peter_sslers

The source and docs are available on a separate github repository:


The "/tools" directory contains scripts useful for Certificate operations. Currently this includes:

  • An invoke script for importing Certbot archives, and potentially other tasks.
  • A sample that will spin up a web server with routes which you can test against. This will allow you to setup your proxy integration without running peter_sslers itself. Responses include the header: X-Peter-SSLers: fakeserver.


See TODO.txt

Getting Started

Please read the Full Installation Instructions

The abridged version:

  • mkdir certificate_admin
  • cd certificate_admin
  • virtualenv peter_sslers-venv
  • source peter_sslers-venv/bin/activate
  • git clone
  • cd peter_sslers
  • $VENV/bin/python develop
  • vi example_development.ini
  • $VENV/bin/initialize_peter_sslers_db example_development.ini
  • $VENV/bin/pserve example_development.ini

Full Documentation

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