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ACMEMAN(1) User Contributed Perl Documentation ACMEMAN(1)

acmeman - manages ACME certificates

acmeman [-Fadns] [-D N] [-f FILE] [--alt-names] [--config-file=FILE] [--debug] [--dry-run] [--force] [--stage] [--time-delta=N] [DOMAIN...]

acmeman --setup | -S [-Fdn] [--config-file=FILE] [--debug] [--dry-run] [--force]

acmeman [-h] [--help] [--usage]

Acmeman is a tool for automatic management of ACME (LetsEncrypt) SSL certificates.

Most existing ACME tools take a list of domain names for which to issue certificates from their command line or configuration file. Acmeman takes a completely different approach. It gathers domain names directly from the configuration of the http server that manages them. Thus, a domain name obtains its certificate automatically, once the administrator configures the http server to serve it via https.

This version of acmeman is able to handle configuration files of Apache http server, and servers that are able to read the list of domain names from disk files, such as HAProxy.

For trivial configurations, acmeman can be used without any additional configuration. For example, support for Apache is enabled by default, so all the administrator has to do is to run

    acmeman --setup

which will set up additional macro definitions for the apache configuration file, then enable the mod_macro module and to use the provided definitions in httpd configuration. This is discussed in detail in the section APACHE below.

In more complex configurations, acmeman should be instructed what to do using its configuration file. This file, normally named /usr/local/etc/acmeman.conf, supplies the definitions of domain sources, i.e. configuration files from which to obtain domain names to form the certificate CNs and other parameters. At a pinch, the list of domain names can be declared in it as well. Several domain sources can be used simultaneously. E.g. you can have acmeman look for domain names in Apache and HAProxy configurations and obtain an additional list of domains from its own configuration, all in the same time.

In any case, acmeman should be run as a periodic cron job, in order to ensure that expiring certificates are updated in time. The usual crontab entry (for Vixie cron) is

    0 4 * * *   root    /usr/bin/acmeman

Exact interval configuration is entirely up to you. For Dillon cron, omit the user name field.

When started this way, acmeman will scan the existing certificates and select those of them which will expire within a predefined amount of time (24h by default, configurable by the core.time-delta statement). Then it will scan the configured domain sources to see if any certificates are added an alternative CN and if any new certificates should be issued. Having created a list of the certificates, it will interact with the ACME server, issuing the new ones and updating the ones that need prolongation or modification.

The following is a short introduction to the acmeman configuration. For a detailed discussion, see the CONFIGURATION section below. For detailed discussion of particular domain sources, refer to the section SOURCES.

The configuration file, /usr/local/etc/acmeman.conf, consists of statements, which have the form KW=VAL, grouped into sections, declared as [NAME] (square brackets are part of the syntax). Empty lines and comments (introduced by a hash sign) are ignored.

There are three main use cases

In most cases no special configuration file is needed. The following recipe describes each configuration step. Refer to the section SOURCE, subsection apache for a detailed discussion.
1. Initial configuration

    acmeman --setup

It will detect the Apache layout, install an additional Apache configuration file, httpd-letsencrypt.conf and print the instructions on how to enable it. Follow them and enable the mod_macro module.

2. Apache domain setup: plain HTTP
To declare that a virtual host needs SSL certificate, add the following line to the Apache VirtualHost block serving plain HTTP for that host:

    Use LetsEncryptChallenge

This will instruct Apache httpd to serve ACME challenges and acmeman to request a certificate for that virtual host. The hostname declared with the ServerName statement will be used as the CN for the certificate, and any names declared via ServerAlias statements will form the list of alternative names. For example:

    <VirtualHost *:80>
        Use LetsEncryptChallenge
3. Issue the certificate
This step is needed if there is no certificate for this domain yet. Reload httpd to fire up the new configuration and run acmeman to issue the certificate. If anything goes wrong, try adding one or more -d options to acmeman to see what's going on. You can also use the -s option during initial debugging of the configuration. This option instructs acmeman to use the staging ACME server, instead of the production one. This eliminates the risk of hitting the ACME request per IP limit.
4. Apache domain setup: HTTPS
To use the created certificate, add another virtual server for that domain, with the same ServerName as above and with 443 as its port value. Add the following statement to it:

    Use LetsEncryptSSL DOMAIN

where DOMAIN must be the same as the ServerName value. For example, the HTTPS virtual host corresponding to the above example will be:

    <VirtualHost *:443>
        Use LetsEncryptSSL

This can be further simplified by using the LetsEncryptServer macro instead of the ServerName and LetsEncryptSSL statements, as in:

    <VirtualHost *:443>
        Use LetsEncryptServer

Use the file source. This domain source reads the list of domain names from a disk file. The first name in the list becomes the certificate CN, rest of names (if any) are used as alternative CNs. For a detailed discussion of the file source, refer to the section SOURCE, subsection file.
1. Create a directory for storing domain name files
This directory will keep domain name files, named after the corresponding HAProxy backends. E.g.

    mkdir /etc/haproxy/hosts
2. Configure acmeman
Example /usr/local/etc/acmeman.conf file is:

       source = file /etc/haproxy/hosts
       postrenew = /usr/sbin/service haproxy restart
    [files default]
       type = single
       certificate-file = /etc/ssl/acme/crt/$domain.pem

The core section declares the source to use. The first argument to the file source is the name of the directory where the domain name lists are stored. The postrenew statement declares the command to be run after all certificates have been renewed. In our case, this command restarts haproxy, forcing it to re-read the certificates.

The files statement instructs the program to create, for each domain, a single file containing the private key, certificate chain and the domain certificate for that domain. The $domain variable in the certificate-file declaration will be replaced by the first domain name from the list (the CN) for that certificate.

This configuration will keep a separate certificate for each backend in haproxy that supports https access. If concerned about request rate limit, you can instruct acmeman to maintain a single certificate with all domain names as X509v3 subject alternative names instead. To do so, use the --host option in the source definition. Its argument specifies the domain name to use as the CN for the certificate. E.g.:

       source = file /etc/haproxy/hosts
3. Configure haproxy
First, configure the plain HTTP frontend, which will be responsible for serving ACME challenges and redirecting the rest of the requests to HTTPS. The simplest definition is:

    frontend http-in
        mode http
        bind :::80 v4v6
        http-request redirect code 301 location https://%[hdr(host)]%[capture.req.uri] unless { path_beg /.well-known/acme-challenge }
        use_backend acme if { path_beg /.well-known/acme-challenge }

Actual backend configuration for the acme backend is beyond the scope of this manual. Use some simple and lightweight http server capable of serving static files, such as fileserv (<>), for example.

Then, configure HTTPS section to use certificates from the certificate file directory:

    frontend https-in
        mode http
        bind :::443 v4v6 ssl crt /etc/ssl/acme/crt
        # Direct each group of domain names to the corresponding
        # backend.
        use_backend d1 if { hdr(host) -f /etc/haproxy/hosts/d1 }
        use_backend d2 if { hdr(host) -f /etc/haproxy/hosts/d2 }

Finally, define the backends.

Use direct configuration if none of the provided source types can be used. In this case, you define each domain which needs a certificate in the /usr/local/etc/acmeman.conf file. First, instruct acmeman that no external source of domain names will be used:

        source = null

Then, for each domain name use the domain section, as shown in the example below:

        alt =
        files = default

This section instructs acmeman that a certificate is needed for domain, using as its alternative name, The files statement identifies the name of a files section containing rules for creating certificate files for that domain. This section must be defined elsewhere in the configuration file. For example:

    [files default]
        type = split
        certificate-file = /etc/ssl/acme/$domain/cert.pem
        key-file = /etc/ssl/acme/$domain/privkey.pem
        ca-file = /etc/ssl/acme/$domain/ca.pem
        argument = $domain

This definition tells acmeman that it should store certificate, certificate key, and certificate authority chain in three separate files. Names of these files will be created by replacing the $domain string in the corresponding definition with the domain name from the domain section.

Several [domain] section can share the same [files] definition, or they can have their one, depending on your needs.

Configuration file controls the operation of acmeman. By default, its name is /usr/local/etc/acmeman.conf. If it is absent, acmeman falls back to the legacy operation mode, scanning Apache configuration files for domains that use LetsEncrypt SSL certificates. See the APACHE section below for a detailed description.

The configuration file has a traditional line-oriented syntax. Comments are introduced with a hash sign. Empty lines are ignored. Leading and trailing whitespace is removed prior to parsing. Long statements can be split over several physical lines by ending each line excepting the last one with a backslash immediately followed by a newline character.

Configuration consists of settings grouped into sections. Syntactically, a setting is


where KEYWORD stands for a symbolic name consisting of alphanumeric characters, dashes and underscores, and VALUE stands for any sequence of characters.

A section is identified by its name and optional arguments. It begins with the following construct:


or, if arguments are present:

    [NAME ARG1 ARG2 ...]

The square brackets are part of the syntax.

A section can contain one or more settings.

The statements in the configuration file form a directed graph. Often in this document we will identify the statement by its path, i.e. a list of section name, its arguments, and the keyword, separated by dots. For example, the path files.apache.type corresponds to the following configuration file fragment:

    [files apache]
       type = single

The following describes the available sections and keywords

This section defines the behavior of the program as a whole.
Defines the root directory to use instead of the default </var/www/acme>. Root directory is the directory under which the .well-known/acme-challenge subdirectory is located.
Sets the time window before the actual expiration time, when the certificate becomes eligible for renewal. N is time in seconds. The default value is 86400, which means that acmeman will attempt to renew any certificate that expires within 24 hours.

The command line option --time-delta overrides this setting.

Defines the command to be run at the end of the run if at least one certificate has been updated. Normally this command reloads the httpd server (or whatever server is using the certificates). If more than one postrenew statements are defined, they will be run in sequence, in the same order as they appeared in the configuration file.

COMMAND inherits the environment from the acmeman process, with the following additional variables:

Total count of renewed certificate files.
Whitespace-delimited list of renewed certificate files
Whitespace-delimited list of renewed domain names (CNs).
Whitespace-delimited list of alternative DNS names from the renewed certificate files.
source=NAME [ARG...]
Defines the source of domain names. The NAME parameter identifies the source, and additional arguments supply the initialization parameters.

The present version of acmeman is shipped with three sources: null, apache, and file.

The null module is an empty source. It takes no additional arguments. Use this source if all domains are described in the configuration file using one or more domain sections.

The apache source module is the default. It scans httpd configuration files as described in section apache. One argument is allowed. If supplied, it defines the apache configuration layout. Allowed values are: debian, slackware, suse and rh (for Red Hat). Without arguments, the layout will be autodetected.

The file source reads domain names from one or more disk files. A mandatory argument specifies the name of the directory where the files are located. This mode is suitable for use with haproxy pattern files.

Multiple source statements can be defined. They will be processed sequentially.

Identifies the [files] section which describes how to create certificate files for domains which lack explicit files keyword. Default NAME is default. See the description of the files statement in domain section.
When set to true, it instructs the program to compare the list of alternative names of each certificate with the one gathered from the Apache configuration, and reissue the certificate if the two lists don't match. This uses an ad-hoc logic, due to the deficiency of the underlying X509 module, and therefore is not enabled by default.

Valid values for BOOL are: 1, on, true, or yes, for true, and 0, off, false, or no for false.

When set to true (the default), the program will check whether each host name has an A DNS record pointing back to one of the IP addresses of the server. Hostnames which don't satisfy this condition will be ignored. The IP of the server is determined by looking up the A record for its hostname. This can be overridden using the my-ip configuration statement.
Size of the RSA key to use, in bits. Default is 4096.
my-ip=IP [IP...]
Declares IP address (or addresses) of this server. Use this keyword if the server IP cannot be reliably determined by resolving its hostname. Special IP $hostip stands for the IP retrieved by resolving the hostname.

Configures where to store ACME account credentials: account key ID and account private key. Both values are stored in separate files on disk. If the files do not exist acmeman will initiate creation of a new account and will save its credentials for further use.
Directory where to store credential files. Defaults to /etc/ssl/acme.
Name of the file with account key ID. Unless FILE begins with a directory separator, it is taken relative to

Default: /etc/ssl/acme/

Name of the file with account key. Unless FILE begins with a directory separator, it is taken relative to

Default: /etc/ssl/acme/key.pem.

Declares the domain for which a certificate should be maintained. CN is the canonical name for the domain. Alternative names can be specified using the alt setting within the section.
Identifies the [files] section which describes how to create certificate files for this domain. In the absence of this statement, the files statement from the [core] section will be used.
Defines alternative name for the certificate. Multiple alt statements are allowed.
Size of the RSA key to use, in bits. If not set, the core.key-size setting is used.
Run CMD after successful update. If not given, the core.postrenew commands will be run.

CMD is run in the environment inherited from the calling acmeman process with the following additional variables defined:

Name of the certificate file that was renewed.
Domain name (CN) from the renewed certificate.
Whitespace-delimited list of the alternative DNS names extracted from the certificate.

The files section instructs acmeman how to create certificate files. It is applied to particular domains by placing the files=ID statement in the corresponding domain sections.

The FILENAME arguments to the keywords below can contain references to a meta-variable, which will be replaced by the actual domain name when handling this section for a particular domain. By default, this meta-variable is $domain.

Type of the certificate to create. When set to single, a single certificate file will be created. Its name is determined by the certificate-file statement. The file will contain the certificate, certificate chain and the signature, in this order.

When set to split, the certificate, certificate chain and the signature will be saved to three distinct files, whose names are defined by certificate-file, ca-file, and key-file, correspondingly. If ca-file is not defined, only certificate and key files will be created.

The default is split.

Defines the name of the certificate file for this domain. This statement is mandatory.
Defines the name of the certificate key file. This statement must be present if type is set to split.
Defines the name of the certificate authority file. This statement may be present if type is set to split.
Defines the name of the meta-variable in FILENAME arguments, which will be replaced with the actual domain name. Default is $domain .

        source = null

Declares empty source. This means that acmeman will handle only domain names explicitly declared in the configuration file using the domain setting.

        source = apache [--server-root=DIR] [LAYOUT]

This is the default source. It assumes Apache httpd, version 2.4 or later (although only minor changes are necessary to make it work with version 2.2). The optional LAYOUT argument defines the layout of the apache configuration files. Allowed layout values are: debian, slackware, suse and rh (for Red Hat). If not supplied, the layout is determined automatically.

Use the --server-root option to supply the name of the server root directory, if for some reason the module is unable to determine it automatically.

A special directory should be configured for receiving ACME challenges.

The package provides two Apache macros: for serving ACME challenges and declaring SSL virtual hosts.

Upon startup the program scans Apache configuration for virtual hosts that use ACME certificates, checks their expiration times, and renews those of the certificates that are nearing their expiration times within a predefined number of seconds (24 hours by default). If any of the certificates were updated during the run, acmeman will restart the httpd server.


To set up the necessary infrastructure, run acmeman --setup. It will create the configuration file httpd-letsencrypt.conf, defining two macros for SSL-enabled sites (mod_macro is needed). Finally, it will create the directory /var/www/acme, which will be used for receiving and serving ACME challenges. If another directory is preferred, it can be specified as an argument to acmeman --setup.

The tool will try to determine the layout of the Apache configuration files and place the created file accordingly, so that it will be included into the main configuration file. It will print the name of the created file at the end of the run. You are advised to ensure that the file is included and that the module mod_macro is loaded prior to it. You may also wish to revise httpd-letsencrypt.conf and edit the paths to SSL files configured there. By default, the directory /etc/acme/DOMAIN will be created for each domain name needing SSL, and two files will be placed there: cert.pem, containing the leaf and intermediate certificates for that domain, and privkey.pem, containing the private key for that domain.

The program will refuse to overwrite existing files httpd-letsencrypt.conf, unless given the --force (-F) option.

Configuring SSL

To declare that a virtual host needs SSL certificate, add the following line to the Apache VirtualHost block serving plain HTTP for that host:

    Use LetsEncryptChallenge

This will instruct acmeman to request a certificate for that virtual host. The hostname declared with the ServerName statement will be used as the CN for the certificate, and any names declared via ServerAlias statements will form the list of alternative names (obviously, wildcards are not allowed).

If such a certificate doesn't exist, it will be requested and created when acmeman is run.

To use the created certificate, create a new VirtualHost block that contains the following statement:

    Use LetsEncryptServer DOMAIN

where DOMAIN is the name used in the ServerName statement of the plain HTTP configuration. Copy the ServerAlias statements (if any), and add the rest of configuration statements. Note, that you need not use the ServerName statement, as it will be included when the LetsEncryptServer macro is expanded.


    <VirtualHost *:80>
        Use LetsEncryptChallenge

    <VirtualHost *:443>
        Use LetsEncryptServer

Alternatively, you can use the LetsEncryptSSL macro, which differs from LetsEncryptServer in that it configures only SSL settings, without the ServerName statement, which therefore must be included explicitly:

    <VirtualHost *:443>
        Use LetsEncryptSSL

LetsEncrypt limits the number of certificates requested for a single registered domain per week (at the time of this writing - 20). To avoid hitting that limit, you may wish to use the same certificate for different virtual hosts. The special macro LetsEncryptReference is provided for that purpose. Suppose, for example, that you wish to configure server name to use the same certificate as (configured in the example above). You then declare the virtual host for the plain HTTP as follows:

    <VirtualHost *:80>
        Use LetsEncryptReference

The argument to the LetsEncryptReference macro indicates the CN name of the certificate to which the current server name (and aliases, if any) are to be added as alternative names. The corresponding virtual host for SSL will use the LetsEncryptSSL macro to configure the correct certificate:

    <VirtualHost *:80>
        Use LetsEncryptSSL

        source = file PATTERN [--ignore=RX] [--host=HOST]

Domain names will be read from files matching PATTERN. The argument can be a single file or directory name, or a valid globbing pattern. If PATTERN is a directory name, the module will read all files from that directory, except those matching the following perl regexp: "^\.|~$|\.bak$|^#.*#$". The default regexp can be overridden using the --ignore (-i) option.

The input files must contain exactly one domain name per line. No empty lines or comments are allowed. The first domain name will become the CN of the issued certificate. The rest of domain names will form alternative names.

If the --host (-h) option is used, only one certificate will be issued. The HOST will be used as its CN. All the domain names read from the input files will form the list of its alternative names.

-D, --time-delta=N
Sets the time window before the actual expiration time, when the certificate becomes eligible for renewal. N is time in seconds. The default value is 86400, which means that acmeman will attempt to renew any certificate that expires within 24 hours.

This option overrides the core.time-delta configuration setting.

-F, --force
Force renewal of certificates, no matter their expire date. With --setup, force installing the httpd-letsencrypt.conf file even if it already exists.
-a, --alt-names
Compare the list of alternative names of each certificate with the one gathered from the Apache configuration, and reissue the certificate if the two lists don't match. This uses an ad-hoc logic, due to the deficiency of the underlying X509 module, and therefore is not enabled by default.

This option overrides the core.check-alt-names configuration setting.

-d, --debug
Increase debugging level. Multiple options accumulate. Three debugging levels are implemented:
List certificates being renewed.
List files being created. Show basic information about ACME transactions for each certificate.
Verbosely report parsing of Apache configuration files. Show detailed debugging information about ACME transactions for each certificate.
-f, --config-file=FILE
Read configuration from FILE, instead of the default /usr/local/etc/acmeman.conf.
-n, --dry-run
Don't modify any files, just print what would have been done. Implies --debug.
-S, --setup
Set up the acmeman infrastructure files.
-s, --stage
Use LetsEncrypt staging server.

The following options are informational:

Prints a short usage summary.
Prints detailed user manual.
Outputs a terse reminder of the command line syntax along with a list of available options.

Sergey Poznyakoff <>

GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later, see <>

This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

2022-04-09 perl v5.32.1

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