Skip to content


Repository files navigation

NGINX-LE - Nginx web and proxy with automatic let's encrypt Docker Automated build

Simple nginx image (alpine based) with integrated Let's Encrypt support.

How to use

  • get docker-compose.yml and change things:

    • set timezone to your local, for example TZ=UTC. For more timezone values check /usr/share/zoneinfo directory
    • set LETSENCRYPT=true if you want an automatic certificate install and renewal
    • LE_EMAIL should be your email and LE_FQDN for domain
    • for multiple FQDNs you can pass comma-separated list, like,
    • alternatively set LETSENCRYPT to false and pass your own cert in SSL_CERT, key in SSL_KEY and SSL_CHAIN_CERT
    • use provided etc/service-example.conf to make your own etc/service.conf. Keep ssl directives as is:
      ssl_certificate SSL_CERT;
      ssl_certificate_key SSL_KEY;
      ssl_trusted_certificate SSL_CHAIN_CERT;
  • make sure volumes in docker-compose.yml changed to your service config

  • you can map multiple custom config files to in compose using service*.conf filename pattern, see service2.conf in docker-compose.yml file for reference

    Alternatively, mount directory with *.conf files into /etc/nginx/conf.d-le directory inside the container to have them all copied at once.

  • stream*.conf files are picked up into /etc/nginx/stream.d/ directory and included into stream section of the Nginx configuration, see stream2.conf in docker-compose.yml file for reference.

    Alternatively, mount directory with *.conf files into /etc/nginx/conf.d-le directory inside the container to have them all copied at once.

  • pull image - docker-compose pull

  • if you don't want a pre-built image, make you own. docker-compose build will do it

  • start it docker-compose up

Configuration files variables replacement

On start of the container all following text matches in custom configuration files you mounted will be replaced, variable with dollar sign ($, like $LE_FQDN) will be taken from environment, please see next table for their list.

Matching pattern Value nginx usage Description
SSL_CERT /etc/nginx/ssl/$SSL_CERT ssl_certificate Public SSL certificate, sent to client
SSL_KEY /etc/nginx/ssl/$SSL_KEY ssl_certificate_key SSL private key, not sent to client
SSL_CHAIN_CERT /etc/nginx/ssl/$SSL_CHAIN_CERT ssl_trusted_certificate Trusted SSL certificates, not sent to client
LE_FQDN $LE_FQDN server_name List of domains, useful for configuration with single server block

Environment variables list

Variable Default value Description
SSL_CERT le-key.pem certbot privkey.pem new filename
SSL_KEY le-crt.pem certbot fullchain.pem new filename
SSL_CHAIN_CERT le-chain-crt.pem certbot chain.pem new filename
LETSENCRYPT false Enables Let's Encrypt certificate retrieval and renewal
LE_FQDN comma-separated list of domains for Let's Encrypt certificate, required if LETSENCRYPT is true
LE_EMAIL comma-separated list of emails for Let's Encrypt certificate, required if LETSENCRYPT is true
TZ Timezone, if set will be written to container's /etc/timezone

Some implementation details

Important: provided nginx.conf handles http->https redirect automatically, no need to add it into your custom service.conf. In case if you need a custom server on http (:80) port, make sure you handle /.well-known/ path needed with root set for LE challenge: location /.well-known/ {root /usr/share/nginx/html;}

  • image uses alpine's certbot package.
  • script/ requests LE certificate and will refresh every 10 days in case if certificate is close to expiration (30day)
  • script/ gets SSL
  • nginx-le on docker-hub
  • A+ overall rating on ssllabs



  • Reproxy simple edge HTTP(s) server / reverse proxy supporting various providers.
  • Træfik HTTP reverse proxy and load balancer. Supports Let's Encrypt directly.
  • Caddy supports Let's Encrypt directly.
  • leproxy small and nice (stand alone) https reverse proxy with automatic Letsencrypt
  • bunch of others


  • Reverse proxy for WebRTC solutions, where you need multiple ports on one domain to reach different services behind your nginx-le container.

Manual certificate renewal (*, DNS challenge)

wildcard certificate renewal

In your docker-compose.yml disable automatic Let's Encrypt certificate creation/renewal.

      - LETSENCRYPT=true
# after starting nginx-le connect to it
docker exec -it nginx sh

# change `*` to your domain name
certbot certonly \
    --manual \
    --manual-public-ip-logging-ok \
    --preferred-challenges=dns \
    --email "${LE_EMAIL}" \
    --agree-tos \
    -d "*"

# it will ask you to create/update TXT DNS record
# depending on your DNS provider it can take some time
# you can check if DNS is already updated using dig utility
dig txt

# copy certificates for nginx-le to use them
cp -fv /etc/letsencrypt/live/ /etc/nginx/ssl/le-key.pem
cp -fv /etc/letsencrypt/live/ /etc/nginx/ssl/le-crt.pem
cp -fv /etc/letsencrypt/live/ /etc/nginx/ssl/le-chain-crt.pem

# use the same procedure for renewal