A missing blog post image

:warning: This post should be set within the Tutorials category, but as “secure” is present within the title… :sunglasses:


Almost three years ago, I wanted to improve a pretty basic Transmission installation made by my father, for what we call a seedbox.

Basically, the expected setup was :

  • Apache (httpd) as reverse proxy (not NGINX or anything else) ;

  • Transmission RPC service password-protected (we live in the 21st century, it’s difficult to “hide” a service…) ;

  • A connection over TLS (we are in 2018 now, communications are not really secure by design) ;

  • Transmission RPC service socket not directly listening on Internet (why the hell would you want that ?).

Back in the past, I couldn’t manage to get it working for various reasons, but anyway, now it’s done, and here is a short but complete post to guide you.

Note before going down : Apache has been chosen to handle the authentication process here (with htpasswd). This way, we don’t have to forward any HTTP header to the Transmission back-end through Apache. #keepItSimple

Transmission configuration

Let’s start with the easy part !

So the idea is about making Transmission listening on localhost only, and discharge him from handling the authentication part.

Simply edit /etc/transmission-daemon/settings.json, and modify the keys related to RPC configuration, according to :

	"rpc-enabled": true,
	"rpc-bind-address": "",
	"rpc-port": 9091,
	"rpc-url": "/transmission/",
	"rpc-whitelist": "",
	"rpc-whitelist-enabled": false,
	"rpc-host-whitelist": "",
	"rpc-host-whitelist-enabled": true,
	"rpc-authentication-required": false,
	"rpc-username": "NOT_RELEVANT",
	"rpc-password": "NOT_RELEVANT"

Now, you only have to take care of reloading the Transmission daemon, NOT RESTARTING IT (your changes would be overridden, as noted within the README file in the same directory) :

# systemctl reload transmission-daemon

Apache configuration

Now the tricky part !

I’ve run many many many tests to come up with a short, straightforward and comprehensive piece of configuration. You should be able to adapt it for your case pretty easily.

For a first step, we have to create credentials for the future basic authentication :

# mkdir /etc/apache2/htpasswd/ && htpasswd -c /etc/apache2/htpasswd/transmission transmission

Choose a strong password, and store it somewhere safe (as always, isn’t it ? :smirk:).

Now, let’s add a new VHOST (/etc/apache2/sites-available/transmission.conf) for our reverse proxy :

<VirtualHost _default_:443>
	ServerName your.domain.name

	<Location "/transmission/">
		AuthType Basic
		AuthName "Credentials for Transmission"
		AuthUserFile "/etc/apache2/htpasswd/transmission"
		Require valid-user

		ProxyPass "http://localhost:9091/transmission/"
		ProxyPassReverse "http://localhost:9091/transmission/"

		# Fix for "SSL input filter read failed"
		SetEnv nokeepalive

	LogLevel Warn
	ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/transmission_error.log
	CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/transmission_access.log combined

	SSLEngine On
	SSLCertificateFile /path/to/your/fullchain.pem
	SSLCertificateKeyFile /path/to/your/privkey.pem

	Header always set Strict-Transport-Security: "max-age=63072000"

The “fix” you surely notice is mostly a workaround for this issue.

Don’t forget to enable the new VHOST :

# a2ensite transmission

For the given configuration above, you’ll have to enable some new Apache modules, if they are not already loaded :
# a2enmod auth_basic env headers proxy_http ssl
# systemctl restart apache2

Now reload your Apache configuration, and everything is supposed to work… From anywhere (see below) !

# systemctl reload apache2

So, now you should be able to access your Transmission WEB interface from : https://your.domain.name/transmission/web/.

A missing blog post image

But also from a Transmission remote client that supports TLS (for instance, transgui) :

A missing blog post image

And at last (but not at least !), from an Android remote client, like Transdroid :

A missing blog post image

Pro tip 1 : You’ll have to enable the HTTPS scheme under server’s Advanced settings by checking Use SSL.
Pro tip 2 : You’ll also have to tweak the remote port value under server’s Advanced settings > Port number, by setting it to 443 to make the default 9091 disappear !
Pro tip 3 : And finally, you’ll have to tweak the remote folder path under server’s Advanced settings > Folder, by setting it to /transmission/ to match the expected VHOST location.

PS : In this guide, I have not spoken about getting a TLS certificate, nor setting up Transmission or Apache from scratch. If you need any help, or have any question, feel free to open a discussion with comments below !