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Yet another ACME client (e.g. to use together with Letsencrypt CA to issue TLS certs) for command lines using Ruby.


  • This tool needs Ruby >= 2.1 (as the dependency acme-client needs that because of use of keyword arguments).
  • OpenSSL bindings
  • no sudo! (needs access to webserver-root /.well-known/acme-challenges alias for all domains - See later section for Nginx example)
# check your ruby version:
$ ruby --version
ruby 2.2.3p173 (2015-08-18 revision 51636) [x86_64-linux]

$ gem install acme-cli

$ acme-cli --version

Troubleshooting Ruby version

Unfortunately, most Linux distributions does not ship a current Ruby version (Version 1.9.3 or 2.0). Check, if your ruby version is at least 2.2. Otherwise you need to update the Ruby.

If you are installing this as a non-root user, you might want to try RVM. Installation itself needs no root, but needs some packages:

sudo apt-get install curl bison build-essential zlib1g-dev libssl-dev libreadline6-dev libxml2-dev libgmp-dev git-core

To install RVM:

gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 409B6B1796C275462A1703113804BB82D39DC0E3
\curl -sSL | bash -s stable  --autolibs=disable --auto-dotfiles

rvm install 2.2
source ~/.bashrc # or ~/.profile RVM tells you to reload your shell

ruby --version

Notice: If you are using RVM, all your cronjobs must be run as a login shell, otherwise RVM does not work:

* * * * * /bin/bash -l -c "acme-cli manage ..."

Another way, e.g. on Ubuntu 14.04 might be to use the Brightbox ppa.


Specify -t to use Letsencrypt test server. Without it, all requests are called against the production server, that might have some more strict rate limiting. If you are just toying around, add the -t flag.

# show all commands

acme-cli help

# show options for an individual command
acme-cli help cert

# creates account_key.json in current_dir
acme-cli register -t

# authorize one or more domains/subdomains
acme-cli authorize -t --webroot-path /var/www/default

# experimental: authorize all server_names in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*
acme-cli authorize_all -t --webroot-path /var/www/default

# create a certificate for domains that are already authorized within the last minutes (1h-2h I think)
# the first domain will be the cn subject. All other are subjectAlternateName
# if cert.pem already exists, will only create a new one if the old is expired
# (30 days before expiration) -> see full help
acme-cli help cert

acme-cli cert -t
# will create key.pem fullchain.pem chain.pem and cert.pem in current directory

# checks validation date of given certificate.
# Exists non-zero if:
# * not exists (exit 1)
# * will expire in more than 30 days (exit code 2)
acme-cli check --days-valid 30 cert.pem

And last but not least, the meta command manage that integrated check + authorize + cert (intended to be run as cronjob):

$ acme-cli manage --days-valid 30 \
                       --account-key /home/acme/account_key.pem \
                       --webroot-path /home/acme/webroot/.well-known/acme-challenge \
                       --key-directory /home/acme/certs \

2015-12-05 23:40:04 +0100: Certificate /home/acme/certs/ does not exists
2015-12-05 23:40:04 +0100: Authorizing
2015-12-05 23:40:04 +0100: existing account key found
2015-12-05 23:40:06 +0100: Authorization successful for
2015-12-05 23:40:06 +0100: Authorizing
2015-12-05 23:40:08 +0100: Authorization successful for
2015-12-05 23:40:08 +0100: creating new private key to /home/acme/certs/
2015-12-05 23:40:09 +0100: Certificate successfully created to /home/acme/certs/ /home/acme/certs/ and /home/acme/certs/!
2015-12-05 23:40:09 +0100: Certificate valid until: 2016-03-04 21:40:00 UTC

# Run command again exits immediately:
$ acme-cli manage --days-valid 30 --account-key /home/acme/account_key.pem --webroot-path /home/acme/webroot/.wel
l-known/acme-challenge --key-directory /home/acme/certs \
2015-12-05 23:40:17 +0100: Certificate '/home/acme/certs/' valid until 2016-03-04.
$ echo $?

This had:

  1. check if /home/acme/certs/ exists and expires in less than 30 days (or exit 1 at this point)
  2. authorize all domains + subdomains
  3. issue one certificate with those domains and place it under /home/acme/certs/[key.pem,fullchain.pem,chain.pem,cert.pem]
  4. exit 0 -> so can be && with service nginx reload or mail deliver

For running as cron, reducing log level to fatal might be desirable: acme-cli manage --log-level fatal.

Example integration Nginx:

server {
  listen 80;
  location /.well-known/acme-challenge {
	  alias /home/acme/webroot/.well-known/acme-challenge;
	  default_type "text/plain";
	  try_files $uri =404;

notice the location - alias. Use this dir with --webroot-path for authorization.

Afterwards, use the fullchain.pem and key.pem:

server {
  listen 443 ssl;
  ssl on;
  ssl_certificate_key /home/acme/certs/;
  ssl_certificate /home/acme/certs/;

  # use the settings from:


After checking out the repo, run bin/setup to install dependencies. Then, run bin/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release to create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to


  1. Fork it ( )
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create a new Pull Request