Gah. Apparently wordpress.com is discouraging ‘https’ for self-hosted blogs: Their redirection service does not allow any protocol but ‘http’. I could swear it did when I first set it up, as I remember typing in my URL with ‘https’ and I thought I tested it with curl -I to make sure it works, but the docs have an explicit note saying:
Note: Site redirects will only point to a non-ssl ( http:// ) url.
In playing with service workers, I set up a self-signed SSL certificate for my local development environment. I used instructions from debian.org. It was very simple, since I didn’t need the security involved with a real operating site. Creating the certs took a single command:
On my site, I’m using Apache’s ‘mod_deflate’ and ‘mod_filter’ to compress my compressible responses (mostly text), with a setup based on h5bp’s server config. I got my sites running over HTTPS recently, and today, when looking at my site performance with webpagetest.org, I noticed that my content wasn’t compressing. It was still working fine over HTTP. I noticed in h5bp’s comments that <IfModule mod_filter.c> could be removed in Apache versions below 2.3.x. I removed it, and sure enough, compression was working again. I’m not sure why it’s different depending on what protocol I use. Perhaps Dreamhost has separate versions of Apache running for the two protocols. Or perhaps it’s just something different about the configuration in the virtual hosts. Regardless, it’s working now. I just hope this doesn’t cause problems whenever they move to Apache 2.4.
My sites are now HTTPS-enabled with LetsEncrypt. It was easy to set up with Dreamhost’s panel. It was just a few clicks and some waiting. This is the first time my own sites have been available over HTTPS. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but it was kind of costly until the free LetsEncrypt became available. This brings my sites in line with the “HTTPS Everywhere” movement. I’ve also been wanting to play with the new installable apps forming standard for making web apps installable almost like native apps.
Dreamhost now supports LetsEncrypt even with shared hosting. LetsEncrypt provides free SSL certificates. I’m going to have to try it out on my domains. My plan is to make my visitor targeted domains have https as the canonical protocol but still support http for older browsers.
Until recently, I had no experience working with sites behind load balancers. Cogneato has been moving its sites to Rackspace virtual servers for flexibility, among other things. One of their recommendations that we took was to put our web server behind a load balancer. Even though we haven’t needed multiple nodes behind it yet, it makes it easier to upgrade the server behind it without needing to change IPs in DNS and will allow us to easily pop up another node when it is needed.
This arrangement has gone relatively smoothly except a few issues. The biggest ones have had to do with our HTTPS sites. We run both HTTP and HTTPS sites on the same server. We put the certificates on the load balancer, so traffic goes from the load balancer to the web server over HTTP. Both Apache and code see the request as HTTP as standard methods are concerned. I will discuss some of the problems we had and solutions I found.