Drop in replacement for Node HTTPS module that automatically handles TLS certificate provisioning and renewal both at localhost (via Auto Encrypt Localhost) and at hostname (via Auto Encrypt).
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A drop-in standard Node.js HTTPS module replacement with both automatic development-time (localhost) certificates via Auto Encrypt Localhost and automatic production certificates via Auto Encrypt.

Simply replace Node’s https module with @small-tech/https and get:

  • Automatically-provisioned TLS certificates at localhost with no browser warnings via mkcert.
  • Automatically-provisioned TLS certificates at hostname via Let’s Encrypt.
  • Automatic HTTP to HTTPS forwarding at hostname.

That’s it.

This is basically a batteries-included version of the standard Node.js https module.

Note: This is a standard ECMAScript Modules (ESM; es6 modules) project. If you need to use legacy CommonJS, please see the 2.x branch which is currently still being maintained.

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This is small technology.

If you’re evaluating this for a “startup” or an enterprise, let us save you some time: this is not the right tool for you. This tool is for individual developers to build personal web sites and apps for themselves and for others in a non-colonial manner that respects the human rights of the people who use them.

Platform support

Tested and supported on:

  • Linux (tested with elementary OS 5.x/Hera)
  • macOS (tested on Big Sur)
  • Windows 10 (tested in Windows Terminal with PowerShell)

(WSL is not supported for certificates at localhost unless you’re running your browser under WSL also).


npm i @small-tech/https

Note that during installation, this module’s Auto Encrypt Localhost dependency will download the correct mkcert binary to your machine.


At localhost with automatically-provisioned development certificates via mkcert.

import https from '@small-tech/https'

const server = https.createServer((request, response) => {
  response.end('Hello, world!')

server.listen(443, () => {
  console.log(' 🎉 Server running at https://localhost.')

Hit https://localhost and you should see your site with locally-trusted TLS certificates.

@small-tech/https uses mkcert to create a local certificate authority and add it to the various trust stores. It then uses it to create locally-trusted TLS certificates that are automatically used by your server.

At hostname with automatically-provisioned Let’s Encrypt certificates.

import https from '@small-tech/https'
import os form 'os'

const hostname = os.hostname()
const options = { domains: [hostname] }

const server = https.createServer((request, response) => {
  response.end('Hello, world!')

server.listen(443, () => {
  console.log(` 🎉 Server running at https://${hostname}.`)

To provision globally-trusted Let’s Encrypt certificates, we additionally create an options object containing the domain(s) we want to support, and pass it as the first argument in the createServer() method.

@small-tech/https automatically provisions Let’s Encrypt certificates for you the first time your server is hit (this first load will take longer than future ones). During this initial load, other requests are ignored. This module will also automatically renew your certificates as necessary in plenty of time before they expire.

You can find a version of this example in the /example folder. To download and run that version:

# Clone this repository.
git clone https://source.small-tech.org/site.js/lib/https.git

# Switch to the directory.
cd https

# Install dependencies.
npm i

# Run the example.
npm run example

A note on Linux and the security farce that is “privileged ports”

Linux has an outdated feature dating from the mainframe days that requires a process that wants to bind to ports < 1024 to have elevated privileges. While this was a security feature in the days of dumb terminals, today it is a security anti-feature. (macOS has dropped this requirement as of macOS Mojave.)

On modern Linux systems, you can disable privileged ports like this:

sudo sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_unprivileged_port_start=0

Or, if you want to cling to ancient historic relics like a conservative to a racist statue, ensure your Node process has the right to bind to so-called “privileged” ports by issuing the following command before use:

sudo setcap cap_net_bind_service=+ep $(which node)

If you are wrapping your Node app into an executable binary using a module like Nexe, you will have to ensure that every build of your app has that capability set. For an example of how we do this in Site.js, see this listing.


Auto Encrypt

Adds automatic provisioning and renewal of Let’s Encrypt TLS certificates with OCSP Stapling to Node.js https servers (including Express.js, etc.)

Auto Encrypt Localhost

Automatically provisions and installs locally-trusted TLS certificates for Node.js https servers (including Express.js, etc.) using mkcert.

Higher level:


A complete small technology tool for developing, testing, and deploying a secure static or dynamic personal web site or app with zero configuration.

© 2019-present Aral Balkan, Small Technology Foundation.

Let’s Encrypt is a trademark of the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). All rights reserved. Node.js is a trademark of Joyent, Inc. and is used with its permission. We are not endorsed by or affiliated with Joyent or ISRG.


AGPL version 3.0 or later.