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Neil James Monzales
Neil James Monzales

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How to secure your server with SSL in less than 10 minutes

This is a quick guide for engineers who doesn't have broad knowledge in setting up SSL together with nginx from scratch.

Things to be familiar with:

  • Docker
  • Nginx
  • Node (Can be any web framework)


I won't be tackling in depth topics about docker, nginx, etc.

What we're gonna build

A simple microservice that serves up a backend service which is served in nginx inside the swag container.

Let's dive into it!


Setting Up a Web Server

We're going to create a simple web server using Express JS or you can clone the repository here and

Once the server is up and running let's proceed to the next step 🙂

Let's go!

Dockerizing the services we need.

In order to build our microservices, we have to create their images first. If you have cloned the repository given above, you'll notice that there were two Dockerfiles (the Dockerfile which serves as the node application image, and the Dockerfile.swag which is a custom image of

Note: I mentioned before that we're gonna be using nginx on this project. Since we're going to secure the server with letsencrypt, I found an easier way on how to do it in just a few steps with linuxserver/swag image.

You can read more about the documentation here on their documentation

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Since the first image is only about the containerized node application. I'll only be discussing the custom swag image.

# Dockerfile.swag


COPY ./default.conf /config/nginx/site-confs/default
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What we only do here is that we replace the default configuration of the nginx inside the image since we're just going to reverse proxy our demo_api service which is here:

   location / {
        proxy_pass http://demo_api:3000;
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Note: I only modified the nginx configuration which I copied inside the swag image and put it inside nginx/default.conf file (you can name it whatever you want but just make sure to apply the changes the Dockerfile).

Additional Note: If you notice that we're proxying demo_api instead of a local address, in docker-compose we can have a default network or create a network for the services to communicate by their hostname identical to their container name.

You can check out the compose file here.

Linux Server SWAG image usage:

Inside our compose file, we have the swag service:

      dockerfile: ./Dockerfile.swag
      context: .
    container_name: swag
      - NET_ADMIN
      PUID: 1000 # required
      PGID: 1000 # required
      TZ: Singapore # required
      URL: '${YOUR_DOMAIN}' # required
      VALIDATION: http # required
      DEFAULT_CONF: '${DEFAULT_CONF}' # required
      - swag:/config # I created a volume named swag to persist the config directory inside the container
      - 443:443
      - 80:80 #optional
    restart: unless-stopped
      - local-network
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You only have to provide the URL environment variable which in your case was your domain name (Please make sure that your domain name is available), then run

docker-compose up --build -d
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to build the dockerfiles and run it on detach mode. And that's it! Your server is now secured!

You can check the full documentation of linuxserver/swag here

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Thank you so much for reading and I hope I helped you in such a little way. Have a great day!

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