Trying to create a script for automatic SSL renewal with LetsEncrypt.

Daily script begins with checking when SSL expiry is:

response="$(openssl x509 -enddate -noout -in ~/letsencrypt/www.mydomain.com/cert.pem)"

$response is notAfter=May 9 19:27:44 2018 GMT

I would like it to compare with today's date and check whether the time difference is less or equal to 7 days. Pseudocode:

if [$response is less than 7 days away from today] then cd ~/letsencrypt $$ ~/dehydrated/dehydrated --cron --domain www.mydomain.com --out . --challenge http-01

How do I go about doing this?

I tried to convert $response into a more workable format through date -d but got a date: extra operand ‘19:27:44’ error.


3 Answers 3


I will address your actual concern rather than the specific question you asked: dehydrated --cron already does the date checking for you.


--cron (-c) Sign/renew non-existent/changed/expiring certificates.


# Check expire date of existing certificate
if [[ -e "${cert}" ]]; then
  echo " + Checking expire date of existing cert..."
  valid="$("${OPENSSL}" x509 -enddate -noout -in "${cert}" | cut -d= -f2- )"

  printf " + Valid till %s " "${valid}"
  if "${OPENSSL}" x509 -checkend $((RENEW_DAYS * 86400)) -noout -in "${cert}"; then
    printf "(Longer than %d days). " "${RENEW_DAYS}"
    if [[ "${force_renew}" = "yes" ]]; then
      echo "Ignoring because renew was forced!"
      # Certificate-Names unchanged and cert is still valid
      echo "Skipping renew!"


RENEW_DAYS appears to default to 30, but you can override it using a configuration file; quoting the documentation:

dehydrated is looking for a config file in a few different places, it will use the first one it can find in this order:

  • /etc/dehydrated/config
  • /usr/local/etc/dehydrated/config
  • The current working directory of your shell
  • The directory from which dehydrated was run

The sample config file there contains this line:

# Minimum days before expiration to automatically renew certificate (default: 30)

To lower the value from the default 30 to 7 days, for example, you would edit the second line to be:

  • Awesome! So I just need to run the upgrade command everyday, pretty much. Bonus question - now how do I make an if then statement based on that response - so example, if the certificate does renew then run X command?
    – DDiran
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 16:37
  • @DDiran sounds like a new question! :)
    – Jeff Schaller
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 16:48
  • @JeffSchaller Noted, working on that now... Could you please share more detail on overriding the RENEW_DATES though? :D
    – DDiran
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 9:06
  • @DDiran, see dhag's recent edit.
    – Jeff Schaller
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 16:13

Determine the number of seconds sinds 1/1/1970 for the expiry date, for now, and divide the difference by the number of seconds in a day.

$ TZ=GMT date -d "May 9 19:27:44 2018 GMT" '+%s'
$ TZ=GMT date '+%s'                             
$ expr \( 1525894064 - 1518192447 \) / 86400
  • Thanks, it does work, but not when I replace "May 9 19:27:44 2018 GMT" with $response. How come?
    – DDiran
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 16:16
  • You need to drop the "notAfter=". use " ${response/*=/}" Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 16:19
  • yeah, done that, still getting the date: extra operand ‘19:27:44’ error
    – DDiran
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 16:28
  • Can you add your code to the question? Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 16:33

The commands below will check the date provided by the openssl command against the date "7 days from now"; if the openssl date (in seconds since the epoch) is less than 7 days from now (in seconds since the epoch), the if command will succeed and you can do what you need to do:

response="$(openssl x509 -enddate -noout -in ~/letsencrypt/www.mydomain.com/cert.pem)"
responsetz={$responsetime##* }
if [ $(date -d "$responsetime" +%s) -lt $(TZ=$responsetz date -d "now + 7 days" +%s) ]
   ## do the needful

The first assignment (after getting the $response) strips off the leading "notAfter=" text. The second assignment captures the timezone of the response; this could be simplified if it's always GMT.

The two date commands ask (GNU) date for the time in seconds since the epoch for the openssl date and for "now + 7 days", being careful to set the timezone for the 2nd call to the timezone reported by the openssl command.

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