SSL certificates expire and need renewed regularly, which involves at least replacing the certificate file and possibly the key and chain certificate files too, running "apachectl configtest" to make sure everything is properly in place and then restarting. Quick, simple, and therefore quite surprising when Apache dies immediately afterwards.
SSL certificates and keys need to be matched - the key must be the one used to generate the signing request for the certificate. As wonderful as it otherwise is, "apachectl configtest" does not test for this! If for whatever reason they don't match then Apache can't handle SSL requests and will refuse to start and you'll see this in the error logs :
[Fri Feb 17 21:58:56 2012] [error] Unable to configure RSA server private key [Fri Feb 17 21:58:56 2012] [error] SSL Library Error: 185073780 error:0B080074:x509 certificate routines:X509_check_private_
key:key values mismatch
This shouldn't happen if you have been careful with your key, request and certificate generation, but sometimes life isn't straightforward - security considerations can mean it's impossible to request SSL certificates on behalf of customers. Non-technical customers can sometimes get mixed up during the process and use the wrong keys and CSRs which means you end up with a mismatch.
Now you have to track down the correct pair of key and certificate files - and quickly, as at this point Apache is down and will not come back up until you fix it or disable SSL. Luckily the OpenSSL command line tool can help.
The first step is to find the correct certificate file. OpenSSL will tell you everything you need to know to track down the right one. For each of your possible certificate files you can run the following, replacing MYDOMAIN.crt with your certificate file :
openssl x509 -noout -text -in MYDOMAIN.crt
This will print a lot of detailed information, of which we are only interested in the first few lines :
Certificate: Data: Version: 3 (0x2) Serial Number: 198312 (0x306a8) Signature Algorithm: sha1WithRSAEncryption Issuer: C=GB, O=Fuzzy Orange, CN=Quick Example SSL CA Validity Not Before: Nov 8 12:32:56 2011 GMT Not After : Aug 27 04:55:46 2012 GMT Subject: serialNumber=1pfX346-
sw4eFZmll0aBd3dWkwKKjLDx, C=GB, O=WWW.MYDOMAIN.COM, OU=FO3269373, OU=Fuzzy Orange, CN=WWW.MYDOMAIN.COM
The key elements here are the validity dates and the O and CN elements of the subject - these let you know what domain this certificate is for and the dates it can be used between. When you've found the certificate that you should be using, you then need to know it's modulus to compare with your keys. Once again OpenSSL can do this for you - simply run the following, once again replacing MYDOMAIN.crt with your certificate file :
openssl x509 -noout -modulus -in MYDOMAIN.crt
This will print a large string of characters :
This modulus string will only match up with the correct key for this certificate, so all we need to do now is check the modulus of your possible key files. Run this to see it, replacing MYDOMAIN.key with your key file :
openssl rsa -noout -modulus -in MYDOMAIN.key
Once again you'll get a large string of characters, this time of the key's modulus. Compare it to the certificate's modulus as extracted before - when you find a match then you have found your key and certificate pair.
Now quickly copy these matching certificate and key files to the location where Apache expects them and start it up again - this time it should run as normal and not report any errors. And next time around, use OpenSSL to verify the keys and certificates match in advance!