Configuring SSL

Package-based installation (DEB/RPM)

SSL configuration can be applied on the first installation, or at any time by reconfiguring the application with:

sudo openproject reconfigure

You will be prompted with the same dialogs than on the initial configuration guide. This assumes that you select the install option when the server/autoinstall dialog appears, and that you have certificate and key files available on your server at a path you know.

Docker-based installation

The current Docker image does not support SSL by default. Usually you would already have an existing Apache or NginX server on your host, with SSL configured, which you could use to set up a simple ProxyPass rule to direct traffic to the container. Or one of the myriad of other tools (e.g. Traefik) offered by the Docker community to handle this aspect.

If you really want to enable SSL from within the container, you could try mounting a custom apache2 directory when you launch the container with -v my/apache2/conf:/etc/apache2. This would entirely replace the configuration we’re using.

Create a free SSL certificate using let’s encrypt

You can get an SSL certificate for free via Let’s Encrypt.

This requires your OpenProject server to be reachable using a domain name (e.g. openproject.mydomain.com), with port 443 or 80 open. If you don’t have anything running on port 80 or 443, we recommend that you first configure OpenProject without SSL support, and only then execute the steps outlined below.

  1. Go to certbot.eff.org, and select “Apache” and your Linux distribution (e.g. Ubuntu 20.04) to get access to the installation instructions for your specific OS.
  2. Follow the installation instructions to get the certbot CLI installed.
  3. Run the certbot CLI to generate the certificate (and only the certificate):

     sudo certbot certonly --apache
    

The CLI will ask for a few details and to agree to the Let’s Encrypt terms of usage. Then it will perform the Let’s Encrypt challenge and finally issue a certificate file and a private key file if the challenge succeeded.

At the end, it will store the certificate (fullchain.pem) and private key (privkey.pem) under /etc/letsencrypt/live/openproject.mydomain.com/.

You can now configure OpenProject to use them by running openproject reconfigure: hit ENTER until you get to the SSL wizard, and select “Yes” when the wizard asks for SSL support:

  • Enter the /etc/letsencrypt/live/openproject.mydomain.com/fullchain.pem path when asked for the server/ssl_cert detail.
  • Enter the /etc/letsencrypt/live/openproject.mydomain.com/privkey.pem path when asked for the server/ssl_key detail.
  • Enter the /etc/letsencrypt/live/openproject.mydomain.com/fullchain.pem path (same as server/ssl_cert) when asked for the server/ssl_ca detail.

Hit ENTER, and after the wizard is finished your OpenProject installation should be accessible using https://openproject.mydomain.com.

  1. Let’s Encrypt certificates are only valid for 90 days. An entry in your OS crontab should have automatically been added when certbot was installed. You can optionally confirm that the renewal will work by issuing the following command in dry-run mode:

     sudo certbot renew --dry-run
    

External SSL termination

If you terminate SSL externally1 before the request hits the OpenProject server, you need to let the OpenProject server know that the request being handled is https, even though SSL was terminated before. This is the most common source in problems in OpenProject when using an external server that terminates SSL.

Please ensure that if you’re proxying to the openproject server, you set the HOST header to the internal server. This ensures that the host name of the outer request gets forwarded to the internal server. Otherwise you might see redirects in your browser to the internal host that OpenProject is running on.

On your outer proxying server, set these commands:

  • In Apache2, set the ProxyPreserveHost Ondirective

  • In NginX, use the following value: proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Host $host:$server_port;

If you’re terminating SSL on the outer server, you need to set the X-Forwarded-Proto httpsheader to let OpenProject know that the request is HTTPS, even though its been terminated earlier in the request on the outer server.

  • In Apache2, use RequestHeader set "X-Forwarded-Proto" https
  • In Nginx, use proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto https;

Finally, to let OpenProject know that it should create links with ‘https’ when no request is available (for example, when sending emails), you need to set the Protocol setting of OpenProject to https. You will find this setting on your system settings or via the rails console with Setting.protocol = 'https'

1 In the packaged installation this means you selected “no” when asked for SSL in the configuration wizard but at the same time take care of SSL termination elsewhere. This can be a manual Apache setup on the same server (not recommended) or an external server, for instance.