Archive for April 3rd, 2016

Using Amazon S3 + CloudFront + Certificate Manager to get seamless static HTTPS support

TL;DR: This post documents the process I took to get S3 to return redirect requests over HTTP + HTTPS to a given domain.

I’m trying to trim down the number of domains and subdomains that I host on my server, since I’m trying a new policy of moving servers every few months in an attempt to make sure I automate everything I can.

One of the things that I’ve done was to start consolidating static files under a single subdomain, and use 301 redirects in nginx to point to the new location. Thanks to Ansible, rolling out the redirect config is a matter of adding a new domain + target pair to a .yml file and running it against a server.

But it’d still be nice if I didn’t have as many moving parts – which meant that I looked at ways to get an external provider to host this for me. I decided to try getting S3’s static website hosting a try to see if it supported everything I wanted it to do. In this case, I want to return either a redirect to a fixed URL, or a redirect to a different domain, but same filename. Essentially, my nginx redirect configs are either return 301 https://kyle.io/$request_uri or return 301 https://kyle.io/fixed-location.

For the purposes of this post, let’s assume I have the domain tw.kyle.io that redirects to my Twitter profile.

Creating the S3 Bucket

I knew that S3 could do static site hosting – but the docs seem to indicate that while redirecting to a different domain is possible, it will still use the same path to the file. So this would work for the different domain, same file name case, but not the fixed URL case.

I found my solution in an example of redirecting on an HTTP 404 error – but it could be adjusted to redirect all the time by removing the Condition elements.

So let’s create the bucket with the AWS CLI: aws s3api create-bucket --bucket tw-kyle-io --create-bucket-configuration LocationConstraint=us-west-2

Then I had to apply the redirection rules. The CLI uses JSON format to specify the redirect rules, so to make things simple, I dumped the config into a file:

{
  "IndexDocument": {
    "Suffix": "redirect.html"
  },
  "RoutingRules": [
    {
      "Redirect": {
        "HostName": "twitter.com",
        "Protocol": "https",
        "ReplaceKeyWith": "lightweavr"
      }
    }
  ]
}

and then called it through the CLI: aws s3api put-bucket-website --bucket tw-kyle-io --website-configuration file://website.json. Note that the use of IndexDocument is misleading: I never actually created a file in S3, but the S3 API requires that something be specified for that key.

People who have created a static website in S3 might be saying that I used a bad bucket name, because now I can’t use CNAMEs with the bucket. Well, I have the useful experience of writing this after discovering that HTTPS requests to the bucket don’t work because S3 doesn’t support HTTPS to the website endpoint. CloudFront doesn’t have restrictions on bucket naming, especially where we’re going to use the website endpoint so we can use redirections. (Hat tip to a StackOverflow question and another one as well.)

Amazon Certificate Manager

So I ended up using CloudFront. But first, I had to create a certificate with ACM. Because I’m creating a subdomain cert, I had to use the CLI – the console only allows you to create a *.domain.com or domain.com cert.

aws acm request-certificate --domain-name tw.kyle.io --domain-validation-options DomainName=tw.kyle.io,ValidationDomain=kyle.io

I had to approve the certificate creation, which required waiting for the email. If you try to create you get an error about the cert not existing: A client error (InvalidViewerCertificate) occurred when calling the CreateDistribution operation: The specified SSL certificate doesn't exist, isn't valid, or doesn't include a valid certificate chain.

CloudFront Magic

Then, it was time to configure the CloudFront distribution. Which isn’t trivial, there’s a bunch of options, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I screwed something up. To get the options below, I created a distribution through the AWS console, then compared that against a generated template (aws cloudfront create-distribution --generate-cli-skeleton).

I put the following in a file named cf.json

{
    "DistributionConfig": {
        "CallerReference": "tw-kyle-io-20160402",
        "Aliases": {
            "Quantity": 1,
            "Items": [
                "tw.kyle.io"
            ]
        },
        "DefaultRootObject": "",
        "Origins": {
            "Quantity": 1,
            "Items": [
                {
                    "DomainName": "tw-kyle-io.s3-website-us-west-2.amazonaws.com",
                    "Id": "tw.kyle.io-redirect",
                    "CustomOriginConfig": {
                        "HTTPPort": 80,
                        "HTTPSPort": 443,
                        "OriginProtocolPolicy": "http-only",
                        "OriginSslProtocols": {
                            "Quantity": 1,
                            "Items": [
                                "TLSv1.2"
                            ]
                        }
                    }
                }
            ]
        },
        "DefaultCacheBehavior": {
            "TargetOriginId": "tw.kyle.io-redirect",
            "ForwardedValues": {
                "QueryString": false,
                "Cookies": {
                    "Forward": "none"
                },
                "Headers": {
                    "Quantity": 0
                }
            },
            "TrustedSigners": {
                "Enabled": false,
                "Quantity": 0
            },
            "ViewerProtocolPolicy": "allow-all",
            "MinTTL": 86400,
            "AllowedMethods": {
                "Quantity": 2,
                "Items": [
                  "HEAD",
                  "GET"
                ],
                "CachedMethods": {
                    "Quantity": 2,
                    "Items": [
                      "HEAD",
                      "GET"
                    ]
                }
            },
            "SmoothStreaming": false,
            "DefaultTTL": 86400,
            "MaxTTL": 31536000,
            "Compress": true
        },
        "Comment": "Redirect for tw.kyle.io",
        "Logging": {
            "Enabled": false,
            "IncludeCookies": false,
            "Bucket": "",
            "Prefix": ""
        },
        "PriceClass": "PriceClass_100",
        "Enabled": true,
        "ViewerCertificate": {
            "ACMCertificateArn": "arn:aws:acm:us-east-1:111122223333:certificate/3f1f4661-f01b-4eef-ae0d-123412341234",
            "SSLSupportMethod": "sni-only",
            "MinimumProtocolVersion": "TLSv1",
            "Certificate": "arn:aws:acm:us-east-1:111122223333:certificate/3f1f4661-f01b-4eef-ae0d-123412341234",
            "CertificateSource": "acm"
        }
    }
}

and then ran the command aws cloudfront create-distribution --cli-input-json file://cf.json.

Testing it

The first thing to test was simply curlling the newly created distribution – after waiting ages for it to actually be created. (I assume CloudFront is just continually working through a queue of distribution changes to each of the 40+ POPs, so it’s actually quite awesome.)

[[email protected] ~]$ curl -v d28h66yisj403x.cloudfront.net
* Rebuilt URL to: d28h66yisj403x.cloudfront.net/
>clipped<
< HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
< Location: https://twitter.com/lightweavr
< Server: AmazonS3
< X-Cache: Miss from cloudfront
* Connection #0 to host d28h66yisj403x.cloudfront.net left intact
[[email protected] ~]$ curl -v https://d28h66yisj403x.cloudfront.net
* Rebuilt URL to: https://d28h66yisj403x.cloudfront.net/
>clipped<
< HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
< Location: https://twitter.com/lightweavr
< Server: AmazonS3
< Age: 11
< X-Cache: Hit from cloudfront

Would you look at that, both the HTTP & HTTPS connections worked!

So I changed the CNAME in CloudFlare to point to the new distribution, and tried again, this time with tw.kyle.io.

[[email protected] ~]$ curl -v https://tw.kyle.io
* Rebuilt URL to: https://tw.kyle.io/
>clipped<
< HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
< Location: https://twitter.com/lightweavr
< Age: 577
< X-Cache: Hit from cloudfront
< Via: 1.1 f360bbb3d1999b5324e1d7ae31da1d7e.cloudfront.net (CloudFront)
< X-Amz-Cf-Id: kl8eZMDzH2BB7T3owENtjFkS2xtfcwqoOsZ4-SNxLY8LMdupbXrp9Q==
< X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff
< Server: cloudflare-nginx
< CF-RAY: 28d9413b3943302a-YYZ

Because I use CloudFlare’s caching layer, parts of the response are overwritten by CloudFlare (notably the Server section, among others). But we can still see that the request ultimately hit the CloudFront frontend. The request was still redirected, so everything looks good.

In Closing

The main thing I didn’t like about this setup? The obtuse documentation. I had far better grasp of everything working through the console, then applying that to the CLI. But there’s still tiny things.

  1. I hit the ancient ‘Conflicting Conditional Operation’ issue about S3 buckets being quick to be deleted from the console, but not actually deleted in the backend. So when I mistakenly thought that --region us-west-2 would be enough to get the S3 bucket to be created in us-west-2, it took ~1 hour to become useable again.

  2. Passing --region us-west-2 to aws s3api create-bucket will create a S3 bucket in the default region, us-east-1. You have to specifically pass --create-bucket-configuration LocationConstraint=us-west-2 to get it created in a specific region.

  3. There’s aws s3 and aws s3api. Why aren’t the s3api operations merged into s3? No other service has an api suffix.

  4. Having to trial and error to find out what parameters are required and what aren’t for different operations. The CloudFront create-distribution command was the worst offender of the commands I ran, just with the sheer number of parameters. I’m hoping the documentation improves before it comes out of beta.

  5. Weird UI bugs/features. Main one I noticed was the ACM certificate selector not being selectable unless a cert exists… and the refresh button is included in that. So the very first time I created a CloudFront distribution, I needed to refresh the page to be able to select the cert, losing my settings.

Now for the important question: Now that I’ve set it up, will I keep on using it? The simple answer is that I’m not sure. It’s nice that it’s offloaded to another provider that keeps it going without my intervention, and that after setting it up it won’t change. But at the same time, it’s another monthly expense. I’ve already put money into a server, and the extra load of a redirection config is negligible thanks to Ansible. There is some overhead with creating & managing Let’s Encrypt certs, particularly with the rate-limiting, and these redirects are entire subdomains, but I just set up an Ansible Let’s Encrypt playbook to run weekly, and the certs will be kept up to date.

It’s going to come down to how much I get billed for this.

No Comments