Max Ogden | Open Web programmer
April 2019
Voxel.js Next
Check out the Voxel.js reboot
May 2016
Getting Started With Node For Distributed Systems
Where to get started with streams and peer to peer
July 2015
What's the deal with iot.js and JerryScript
Node.js will soon be running on tiny low power chips
July 2015
Electron Fundamentals
A quick intro to Electron, a desktop application runtime
May 2015
HD Live Streaming Cats to YouTube with the Raspberry Pi Camera
A how to guide
May 2015
Interdisciplinary Open Source Community Conferences
A list of community organized events
April 2015
Setting up HTTPS with a wildcard certificate and Nginx
How I set up HTTPS with Nginx
April 2015
A Month of Modules
Modules Mafintosh and I wrote this month
February 2015
Tessel Powered Plant Watering System
Make an HTTP accessible water pump
January 2015
Portland Fiber Internet
Review of 1Gb fiber from CenturyLink
January 2015
An interactive console for node
January 2015
Nested Dependencies
Insight into why node_modules works the way it does
July 2013
Node Packaged Modules
Bringing NPM modules to the web
March 2013
Kindleberry Wireless
A Portable Outdoor Hackstation
January 2013
Bringing Minecraft-style games to the Open Web
A status report from the one month old voxel.js project
November 2012
A Proposal For Streaming XHR
XHR2 isn't stream friendly. Lets explore why and propose a solution!
October 2012
Scraping With Node
Useful modules and a tutorial on how to parse HTML with node.js
October 2012
Building WebView Applications
Things I learned while building @gather
May 2012
Fast WebView Applications
How to make web apps feel fast and responsive
April 2012
Node Streams: How do they work?
Description of and notes on the node.js Stream API
December 2011
Gut: Hosted Open Data Filet Knives
HTTP Unix pipes for Open Data
July 2011
Little Coders
Elementary school programming

How I set up HTTPS with Nginx, April 2015

I finally got a wildcard certificate for my new domain This means I can use one cert for e.g. or but also or

At the recommendation of my friend Eric Mill I decided to try out SSLMate. Wildcard certs aren't cheap. From SSLMate it costs $149 USD. However, it was super easy compared to every other SSL purchasing experience I've ever dealt with.

It should take about 20 minutes to do all the things in this blog post.

I have high hopes for Let's Encrypt, which will essentially make this process cost $0 instead of $149, but until then this is the easiest way to do it that I've seen.

Note: my domain is hosted on GitHub Pages and they don't yet support HTTPS with custom domains. Email GitHub support and request this feature if it is important to you!

Installing SSLMate and buying the cert

First I signed up at SSLMate. I picked a username and password and entered my payment info.

Then they have you install their sslmate CLI utility.

sudo wget -P /etc/apt/sources.list.d
sudo wget -P /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install sslmate

Then you can buy a wildcard cert from the CLI:

sslmate buy *

Then they ask you some questions, verify the order, purchase the cert and then send you an email. The email has instructions for verifying your ownership of the domain on a Comodo site. Turns out SSLMate is basically a user friendly front end to Comodo's positiveSSL service. I really appreciate how easy they make the process, and hope more SSL providers will follow suit!

Then I did mkdir keys and cd keys. I was now in /home/max/keys.

Next was sslmate download --all. Now a bunch of files appeared in my keys folder.

The ones I'm using are * and *

Installing and configuring Nginx

Then I installed the latest Nginx. I have a utility I wrote last year called install-nginx-on-ubuntu that I used. It basically does this:

sudo apt-get install -y software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:nginx/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y nginx
sudo initctl start nginx

Then after lots of twiddling around with configs I ended up creating this 'default' config and wrote it to /etc/nginx/conf.d/ssl.conf. It redirects all http:// traffic to https://.

# redirect http -> https
server {
  listen 80;
  server_name *;
  return 301 https://$host$request_uri;

# default config (server_name _; makes this 'base' config)
server {
  listen 443 default ssl;
  server_name _;

  ssl_certificate_key /home/max/keys/*;
  ssl_certificate /home/max/keys/*;

  # These this next block of settings came directly from the SSLMate recommend nginx configuration
  # Recommended security settings from
  ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;
  ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;
  ssl_session_timeout 5m;
  ssl_session_cache shared:SSL:5m;
  # Enable this if you want HSTS (recommended)
  add_header Strict-Transport-Security max-age=15768000;

  # from
  # Generated by OpenSSL with the following command:
  #   openssl dhparam -outform pem -out dhparam2048.pem 2048
  ssl_dhparam /home/max/keys/dhparam2048.pem;

Make sure you run openssl dhparam -outform pem -out dhparam2048.pem 2048 inside your keys folder (it will take a while).

Deploying processes

Then I use taco-nginx to deploy individual processes:

taco-nginx --name signalhub signalhub listen -m 10

taco-nginx takes care of generating a configuration for my app and then reloading nginx. For the above command the configuration file it generated is /etc/nginx/conf.d/signalhub.conf with the contents:

# generated by taco-nginx
upstream signalhub {

server {
  listen 443;
  server_name signalhub.*;
  location / {
    proxy_pass http://signalhub;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $remote_addr;
    proxy_buffering off;
    proxy_request_buffering off;
    proxy_http_version 1.1;

With this configuration I can deploy new apps with taco-nginx quickly without having to configure them for HTTPS, since Nginx can reverse proxy HTTPS -> HTTP.

My score on SSLLabs is an A:

ssl labs

Thanks a ton to Eric Mill for helping tweak my HTTPS settings and Mathias Buus for helping with Nginx.