Sandstorm's built-in HTTPS (if you use a sandcats.io domain)

For new Sandstorm installations, HTTPS is enabled by default. Sandstorm listens on port 443 for HTTPS connections and port 80 for HTTP connections. To read about other options for configuring HTTPS/SSL, visit the HTTPS/SSL topic guide.

This is implemented through the sandstorm.conf file. HTTPS mode is enabled by setting the HTTPS_PORT=443 configuration option, causing the Sandstorm software on your server to bind port 443.

Sandstorm also listens on port 80 (via PORT=80). When there is a HTTPS_PORT configured, and a request comes in for the Sandstorm shell or a wildcard host over HTTP, Sandstorm delivers a redirect to HTTPS.

Sandstorm grains can publish static content to the web on whatever domain the user wants. Sandstorm serves this static publishing over both HTTP and HTTPS, since Sandstorm software can't currently get a valid HTTPS certificate for all domain names.

Enabling HTTPS for an existing sandcats.io Sandstorm server

If you are using the sandcats.io DNS service, you can migrate from running Sandstorm on port 6080 (perhaps with a reverse-proxy) to having Sandstorm own port 443 (HTTPS) and port 80 (HTTP).

If you are using nginx to speak HTTPS on port 443 and HTTP on port 80, you should disable that before proceeding.

In this example, we presume your server is on example.sandcats.io. We also assume your Sandstorm server runs on port 6080 currently.

This process will require reconfiguring any OAuth login providers like Google or GitHub, so it may take you up to thirty minutes to complete.

First, enable HTTPS by modifying your Sandstorm configuration file. One way to do that is to open it with nano:

sudo nano -w /opt/sandstorm/sandstorm.conf

Add HTTPS_PORT= to the bottom of the file:

HTTPS_PORT=443

Find these settings and modify them:

BASE_URL=https://example.sandcats.io
WILDCARD_HOST=*.example.sandcats.io
PORT=80,6080

Note on customization: if you stick to the default HTTPS_PORT of 443, make sure to remove :6080 from BASE_URL and WILDCARD_HOST. If you prefer a non-default port, you must specify it in BASE_URL and WILDCARD_HOST. If you want Sandstorm to listen for HTTP on ports other than 80, you can customize the PORT= line.

Save the file and exit your editor. If you are using nano you can do this Ctrl-w then enter then Ctrl-x.

Stop and start Sandstorm:

sudo sandstorm restart

Sandstorm will begin to set up HTTPS, and if you want to watch the process, you can run this command:

sudo tail -f /opt/sandstorm/var/log/sandstorm.log

The first launch with HTTPS enabled may take one or two minutes while Sandstorm configures keys.

Note on login providers: If you had Google or GitHub login enabled (or other OAuth providers), the change in BASE_URL means that you need to reconfigure those services. You can log into Sandstorm in a special admin mode by running:

sudo sandstorm admin-token

Once you are viewing the admin page, you should disable and then re-enable GitHub, Google, and any other OAuth-based login providers. This process will typically require visiting the Google and GitHub websites.

Congratulations! You're now using HTTPS, also known as SSL and TLS.

Technical details

Automatic renewal. Sandstorm's built-in HTTPS uses the Sandcats.io service to renew certificates without needing any manual intervention.

No reverse proxy. This configuration removes the need for a reverse proxy or HTTPS terminator like nginx. If you want to set up a reverse proxy, you would typically use BIND_IP=127.0.0.1 and PORT=6080 and choose a BASE_URL that reflects your external URL.

Server Name Indication (SNI) is required. Sandstorm's built-in HTTPS support requires its clients to support Server Name Indication (SNI), which at the time of writing is supported by over 97% of web clients. This is because Sandstorm relies on nodejs's SNICallback API to smoothly start using new certificates without restarting the server. Therefore, Sandstorm's built-in HTTPS support presents an invalid certificate for client-does-not-support-sni.sandstorm-requires-sni.invalid to clients that can't speak SNI to clarify that SNI is required. If you need your Sandstorm installation to support non-SNI clients, you will need to use a custom HTTPS terminator, or file a bug against Sandstorm.

Duplicate content on multiple ports. If you are publishing content at example.com and specify multiple values for PORT=, the content is available on each port. We used to be concerned that this might negatively affect how sites hosted on Sandstorm are ranked in search engines; our research on how duplicate content is handled by search engines reassures us that this will not be a problem. In the long run, consider turning off port 6080 by removing it from the PORT= line. If you think the Sandstorm code should support some customization on how it handles multiple ports, please file a bug so we can make sure we're serving your needs.