Renewing my SSL certificates was on my to do list for months and today I’m at home recuperating from a fever that kept me up all night. Since my web server is now patched it is a good time to get new SSL certificates. So I contacted StartSSL and did the deed.
WordPress and SSL has always irked me because just putting a certificate on the web server and using the https URL would still give you elements that are loaded via http (not SSL) and your browser’s address bar would look like this.
See that yellow warning triangle over the lock? It irks me. It does. It’s a personality flaw, a blemish, an imperfection. It loudly announces to the world that I’m Doing It All Wrong™. I see that on my site and I hang my head in shame.
OK it’s not really that big a deal. I could play with WordPress SSL plugins but part of my background is configuring applications on servers and Apache2 has a useful module called mod_substitute.
I have two configuration files for my site. One is for the http version and the other is for SSL. It’s like two separate virtual hosts with the same directories.
After I enabled mod_substitute I added these lines to my SSL config.
<Location /> AddOutputFilterByType SUBSTITUTE text/html Substitute "s|href=\"http\://blog.dembowski.net/|href=\"https://blog.dembowski.net/|" Substitute "s|href=\'http\://blog.dembowski.net/|href='https://blog.dembowski.net/|" Substitute "s|src=\'http:|src='|" Substitute "s|src=\"http:|src=\"|" </Location>
I’m using the alternate delimiter “|” because I don’t want to escape out the URL slashes.
That’s probably too many lines. The first two Substitute lines replaces any URLs of mine from http:// to https://. The next two are for any reference that load elements using plain “http:”. I don’t substitute those with “https:” but instead make those URLs “//” without an explicit protocol.
Doing that gets this image in my browser’s address bar.
Green is good. Order is restored.
Why didn’t I use a WordPress HTTPS plugin?
Because I’m lazy and not feeling well. Also using mod_substitute lets me filter the HTML output after WordPress has generated it but before it is sent to the web browser. That gives me more confidence that I’ll get all of the URLs that I want to change.
I’m only using this trick on the SSL version of my site. It’s not a perfect solution and I’m curious to find what this breaks. I had to disable Jetpack’s Photon option because some of my images were not being sent to that CDN properly and there may be other thing as well.
This is not something for everyone (if you’re on a shared host for example) but if you can load Apache2 modules and restart your web server then this may work for you too.
Using (.*) instead of “blog” works for my other vhosts as well. Nope, that breaks LOTS. Reverting back.