UniFi Controller 5.11, Let’s Encrypt SSL and Docker

A slight change of plans from earlier posts on the topic of UniFi Controllers! Here’s how to get a UniFi Controller running inside a Docker container, along with a trusted Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate.

Note: this guide assumes you’re configuring things on a server or VM with public Internet access. You’ll also need a fixed public IP and functional DNS to get an SSL certificate.

Here we go:


UniFi needs a bunch of inbound ports open. Here’s the official list – it differs slightly to what I use:

UDP/3478STUN – required for device communication with the controller
TCP/8080Inform – required to adopt devices
TCP/8443GUI – required even if you use the Cloud Controller access
TCP/8880Captive Portal – HTTP – only needed if you use the captive portal feature
TCP/8843Captive Portal – HTTPS – only needed if you use the captive portal feature
TCP/6789Speed Test – only needed if you use the speed test feature

Let’s Encrypt also needs a port open:

TCP/80HTTP – required for the HTTP-01 challenge type

I use ufw to configure iptables – first, set up an application definition for the UniFi Controller – in /etc/ufw/applications.d/unifi:

description=UniFi Controller

Run the following four commands to configure and enable the firewall. I’ve made some assumptions about what’s needed – you may need to customise things a little more:

sudo ufw allow ssh
sudo ufw allow http
sudo ufw allow unifi
sudo ufw enable

User Account

UniFi probably shouldn’t be run as root – this is generally a good idea, plus it may also become a requirement for the Docker image I’m using in the future. This will also affect what ports you can configure the controller to use – the default ports work fine for any user, but changing any of the ports to <1024 requires root.

Create the unifi user and group accounts:

sudo adduser unifi --system --group --no-create-home

Pay attention to the UID and GID that get created; you need them in the Docker Compose file below.


Here’s the tl;dr version of the installation instructions, but if you want to read the full version with all the details – check the Docker website.

Configure the Docker repository – it contains a more up-to-date version:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl gnupg2 software-properties-common
curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/debian/gpg | sudo apt-key add -
sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://download.docker.com/linux/debian $(lsb_release -cs) stable"

Install Docker and related tools:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install docker-ce docker-ce-cli containerd.io

UniFi Controller

There are a number of UniFi Docker images out there, but I like the one by jacobalberty as it’s kept up to date – plus it exposes a volume for adding trusted certificates. His Docker Compose file isn’t quite to my taste, so I’ve adjusted things. Create the file /opt/unifi/docker-compose.yml:

version: '2.2'
    image: 'mongo:3.4'
    restart: always
      - db:/data/db
    image: 'jacobalberty/unifi:${TAG:-latest}'
      - mongo
    init: true
    restart: always
      - data:/unifi/data
      - log:/unifi/log
      - cert:/unifi/cert
      - init:/unifi/init.d
      RUNAS_UID0: 'false'
      UNIFI_UID: 100
      UNIFI_GID: 100
      DB_URI: mongodb://mongo/unifi
      STATDB_URI: mongodb://mongo/unifi_stat
      DB_NAME: unifi
      - '3478:3478/udp'
      - '6789:6789/tcp'
      - '8080:8080/tcp'
      - '8443:8443/tcp'
      - '8880:8880/tcp'
      - '8843:8843/tcp'
    image: bash
      - controller
    command: bash -c 'tail -F /unifi/log/*.log'
    restart: always
      - log:/unifi/log


Note: if you’re going to change the location of this file, it should be in a directory called ‘unifi’. Bring the stack up like so (it will take a fair while first time around):

sudo docker-compose up -d

Install SSL

This part requires a few sections that need to be completed in order – first you need a script to load the SSL certificate into the UniFi Docker cert volume, then you need to run a certbot command to obtain the certificate.

If you use a provider other than Let’s Encrypt for SSL certificates, these instructions will need to be adjusted.

UniFi SSL Deploy Script

It may seem backwards, but the deploy script needs to exist before obtaining the certificate. Read through this script carefully and adjust any domains and directories as needed. Create the file /opt/unifi/unifi-ssl-deploy.sh:


set -e

for domain in $RENEWED_DOMAINS; do
  case $domain in
    # Where does the Docker cert data volume live?
    # Where is the Docker Compose file?

    # Make sure the certificate and private key files are
    # never world readable, even just for an instant while
    # we're copying them into cert_root.
    umask 077

    cp "$RENEWED_LINEAGE/cert.pem" "$cert_root/cert.pem"
    cp "$RENEWED_LINEAGE/privkey.pem" "$cert_root/privkey.pem"
    cp "$RENEWED_LINEAGE/chain.pem" "$cert_root/chain.pem"

    # Apply the proper file permissions
    # Files can be owned by root
    chmod 400 "$cert_root/cert.pem" \
      "$cert_root/privkey.pem" \

    # Restart the Docker container
    docker-compose -p unifi -f $compose_file stop
    docker-compose -p unifi -f $compose_file start

Now make the file executable:

sudo chmod a+x unifi-ssl-deploy.sh

Obtain SSL with Certbot

Conveniently, Certbot has its own mechanism for obtaining an SSL certificate without using a webserver. If you have a webserver configured, you will want to adjust these instructions accordingly.

As above, adjust the following to suit your domain:

sudo apt-get install certbot
sudo certbot certonly --standalone --domain unifi.example.com --deploy-hook /opt/unifi/unifi-ssl-deploy.sh

The command to obtain the certificate will ask a few questions – you may also see an error from the deploy script, but it’s not actually an error per se.

Note: After the deploy script has run, you need to wait up to 5 minutes for the UniFi Controller to fully start back up again. If you don’t, you’re likely to get an SSL error (PR_END_OF_FILE_ERROR) in the browser!

We’re all done – your UniFi Controller should now be available via: https://unifi.example.com:8443

Reverse Proxy

I’ve opted to not configure a reverse proxy, as I don’t believe one is needed. If port 8443 is blocked on your network, you can configure cloud access via https://unifi.ui.com.

If you want to configure a reverse proxy, note you’ll need something that handles websockets gracefully – Nginx and Traefik are probably your best options.

Exchange Server 2007 – troubleshooting SSL

Some points to troubleshoot an Exchange Server 2007 SSL configuration. For god knows what reason, Microsoft decided that everything needed to be command line, so it’s pretty easy to get stuck.

Starting point – find what certificates are installed

Run the following cmdlet from the Exchange Shell:


You should see output similar to:

Thumbprint                Services Subject
----------                -------- -------
1B5667CCB803BC4AD13E7E51A .IP.W    CN=mail.example.com....
103F3F32814A48D2416ECC5DB S....    CN=exch-07
43C6A1548782A25ABA425B471 ....W    CN=exch-07.example....

The Thumbprint is the identifier used in other cmdlets when referring to a specific certificate. The Services are what the certificate is enabled for; each letter indicates what service(s) are configured:

SSMTP – outbound e-mail secured with TLS
IIMAP – inbound e-mail
PPOP3 – inbound e-mail
UUnified Messaging – I believe this is for Outlook Anywhere
WOutlook Web Access / IIS – webmail

You can also get more detailed information about a specific certificate with the following command:

Get-ExchangeCertificate [thumbprint] | fl

Are the certificates enabled for the right things? Are multiple certificates enabled for the same service (as per the example above)? Is the right certificate installed at all? Has the certificate expired? Does the certificate have incorrect or misspelt details in the DN? Etc..

Handy commands:

Turn a specific service on (Outlook Web Access in this example):

Enable-ExchangeCertificate -Thumbprint [thumbprint] -Services IIS

Disable a certificate:

Enable-ExchangeCertificate -Thumbprint [thumbprint] -Services None

Remove a certificate:
This command does what it says on the tin – there is no undo!

Remove-ExchangeCertificate -Thumbprint [thumbprint]

Aside from using the above to fix obvious problems, the Event Viewer contains very useful error codes and explanatory messages in well-formed English (which is just about a first for any Microsoft product, I think). Combination that + Google will provide fixes for most problems.

One thing I’ve seen once or twice is a certificate that the customer swears black-and-blue has been installed and it’s just not showing up in the Get-ExchangeCertificate output. If you look in (the Certificates snap-in in) MMC, it’s there. What’s happened? The customer requested the certificate in Exchange, but imported the certificate response in to MMC directly. Ergo, public and private keys not matched up and certificate not available to Exchange. Delete certificate from MMC, import in to Exchange instead.

Exporting certificates from a Java keystore

There is a patently easy way to convert JKS keystores to PKCS12 certificate bundles (and vice versa). It’s a (poorly documented) keytool command that was introduced with JDK 6:

Convert JKS to P12

keytool -importkeystore -srckeystore keystore.jks -srcstoretype JKS -deststoretype PKCS12 -destkeystore keystore.p12

Convert P12 to JKS

keytool -importkeystore -srckeystore keystore.p12 -srcstoretype PKCS12 -deststoretype JKS -destkeystore keystore.jks

Borrowed from a blog post by tomas at EJBCA.