Automatic Let's Encrypt registration for Juju charms, just set the fqdn
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Operating a Charm that uses this layer

Charms using this layer will automatically request and renew a Let's Encrypt certificate for the fqdn specified in the Charm config.


Let's Encrypt registration will only work in deployments that meet the following criteria:

  • Placement onto a machine with a public IPv4 address. IPv6 might work (Let's Encrypt supports it), but this is unconfirmed.
    • Container placement will not work. Containers aren't typically publicly route-able.
    • Private networks will not work. For private TLS, I recommend using layer:tls-client with easyrsa.
  • Registered DNS "A" record for the above public address.
    • Must be a domain name allowed by Let's Encrypt. Some, such as * dynamic addresses, are not allowed.
  • Must be exposed (juju expose) so that Let's Encrypt can reach it for registration.


This layer adds a config option fqdn to config.yaml. When set, this layer will attempt to register the hostname with Let's Encrypt. Only set fqdn:

  • After the DNS "A" record has been established for the unit's public IP address.
  • The registered domain name has had time to propagate.
  • The application has been juju exposed.

A contact-email config option may also be set, for receiving email from Let's Encrypt regarding certification of the domain name. Note that changing contact-email after the certificate has been requested will not have any effect.

Developing a Charm with this layer

Single FQDN

Follow these steps if you need a single certificate for a single domain name. This is the legacy way of using the lets-encrypt layer where an admin specifies the fqdn using a config option.

Include layer:lets-encrypt in your web application charm and set the fqdn config option to automatically obtain a TLS certificate from Let's Encrypt.

Once the application is registered with Let's Encrypt, the reactive state lets-encrypt.registered will be set. Then, in your charm, you may obtain the path to the certificates and keys with This will return a dictionary with the following keys:

  • privkey: Private key for the certificate. SSLCertificateKeyFile in Apache and ssl_certificate_key in NGINX.
  • fullchain: All certificates, including server certificate (aka leaf certificate or end-entity certificate). The server certificate is the first one in this file, followed by any intermediates. SSLCertificateFile in Apache and ssl_certificate in NGINX.
  • dhparam: Secure Diffie Hellman parameters as defined by ietf RFC3526 SSLOpenSSLConfCmd DHParameters in Apache and ssl_dhparam in NGINX.
  • cert: The server certificate.
  • chain: The additional intermediate certificates that web browsers will need in order to validate the server certificate.

Example: Using with layer:nginx

Configure layer:lets-encrypt to restart nginx during registration:

    service-name: nginx

Use the obtained certificates in your charm layer. For example:

from charmhelpers.core import hookenv
from charms.layer import lets_encrypt


@when('nginx.available', 'lets-encrypt.registered')
def configure_webserver():
    status_set('maintenance', 'Configuring website')
	fqdn = config().get('fqdn')
    live =
    configure_site('myapp', 'myapp.nginx.tmpl',
                   crt_path=live['fullchain'], fqdn=fqdn)
    status_set('active', 'Website available: https://%s' % fqdn)

You'll want to use the fqdn for server_name in your nginx site config.

Let's Encrypt registration may be disabled by setting the lets-encrypt.disable state. If you know your charm isn't ready to register, or doesn't need it -- maybe it's being TLS terminated by a front end -- please set this to avoid wasting Let's Encrypt resources.

Certificate renewal may be disabled by setting the lets-encrypt.renew.disable state. Set this to prevent the lets-encrypt layer from temporarily stopping the configured service-name during certificate renewal.

Multiple FQDNs

Follow these steps if you need multiple certificates for multiple domain names. The FQDNs need to be set by a higher layer. You can use both methods (single and multiple fqdns) at the same time. If both the config option is set and set_requested_certificates is called, then a certificate will be generated for all fqdns.

Include layer:lets-encrypt in your charm and use charms.layer.lets_encrypt.set_requested_certificates(requests) to create multiple certificates. requests has the following format:

        'fqdn': ['', ''], # Covers multiple domains with one certificate
        'contact_email': ''
        'fqdn': [''],
        'contact-email': ''

Obtain the path to the certificates with charms.layer.lets_encrypt.live_all(). This will return a dictionary with the fqdn's as keys and a dictionary with the same keys as described above from live(). In case of multiple domains certificate only one fqdn will be present.

Following the example above, live_all() could return the following output:

    '': {
                       'privkey': '',
                       'fullchain': '',
                       'cert': '',
                       'chain': '',
                       'dhparam': '',
     '': {
                       'privkey': '',
                       'fullchain': '',
                       'cert': '',
                       'chain': '',
                       'dhparam': '',


The configured service-name will be temporarily stopped while Let's Encrypt registers and renews with the "standalone" method.

This layer is only supported on xenial. If deployed on earlier series, this layer does nothing.

This layer requires agreement to the ISRG Let's Encrypt terms of service in order to deploy, because registration is done non-interactively in the charm.


Some things could be improved:

  • Better rate-limiting of the registration retries.
  • Not attempting to register if not exposed (can this be detected?).
  • Not attempting to register if FQDN isn't ready, or is incorrect.
  • Non-interrupting methods like webroot.


See LICENSE.layer-lets-encrypt for details.